When it comes to thigh pain, regardless of the cause, location, or severity, most people will experience pain, stiffness, swelling, and trouble completing normal daily activities. Performing the right exercises for thigh pain can help relieve these symptoms and help prevent further injury. Keep scrolling to find useful stretches and exercises that target each region of your thigh muscles.
What exercise is best for your thigh pain will depend on where you are experiencing pain. If your pain is severe, hard to pinpoint with palpation, or you can’t seem to find a position that gives you relief, it’s best to talk to your doctor first to rule out more serious issues like spine cord compression, nerve damage, fracture, or cancer.
The inner thigh gets sores most often from a strain of the groin muscles, also known as the hip adductors. This is typical with high impact activities, aging, sports, hip weakness, or lack of a warm up.
This is a simple inner thigh stretching exercise can be a great pain and stiffness reliever for groin pain. While there are many different postures you can assume to stretch the groin, the use of a stretch strap while lying on your back is a great way to feel supported.
Alternatives, you can try sitting in a butterfly stretch or getting into a standing side lunge.
This strengthening exercise looks simple but can be difficult when dealing with inner thigh pain. Always start gently and assess how it feels before increasing difficulty.
Other potential options include side lunges, standing hip adduction with a loop resistance band, or single leg balance.
When dealing with pain of the outer thigh, there are two primary areas that tend to be the culprit: the hip abductors (the side of the glutes) and the strong fibrous iliotibial band (ITB) that runs down the entire side of the leg. Pain in these areas can aggravate hip pain or hip bursitis too.
You can do this hip stretch anywhere you can sit in a chair, whether it’s at work or sitting at home. You can play with the exact position of your leg to be able to stretch affected areas in your outer thigh, as it will vary with each individual.
If your pain is coming more from the ITB, you can try bringing the knee across the body toward the opposite side of your chest instead to get a stretch in the side of the thigh. You can also complete this stretch lying down.
This is another calisthenic mat exercise that looks deceptively easy. However, when you focu on the smaller side hip muscles, you should notice a quick muscle burn. Use your symptoms to dictate how many reps and how high to lift your leg.
The upper thigh is where a lot of large muscle groups cross between the thigh bone (femur) and pelvis to provide stability to the entire core and trunk. The big muscle groups that we are most concerned with when dealing with upper thigh pain are the hip flexors. When these muscles get tight and painful, they can lead to imbalances in the low back to, so appropriate exercise is important.
A gentle stretch for the hip flexors can relieve both upper thigh pain and lower back pain. It’s important to complete this stretch while keeping the low back in neutral (avoid extension).
Alternatively, you can also try a standing lunge if you have knee problems or feel more comfortable in this position.
Marching in place is a simple way to get blood flowing to the hip flexors. Plus, you can focus on coordinating good core control to minimize strain to the hip flexors with other movements too.
Front thigh pain is most often caused by a muscle strain in the large quadriceps muscles that run along the entire thigh. Quad pain can be caused by high impact activities, kicking sports, aging, and general weakness as well.
This is an effective quad stretch because lying on your stomach helps prevent excessive arch in the low back, which can minimize the efficacy of the stretch. If you have a hard time tolerating lying on your stomach, you can also try this stretch in standing or even kneeling.
A squat is a great functional and multidimensional exercise for the thighs that only requires your bodyweight to get started. While it works the quads in the front of the thigh, it also requires core strength, full leg stability, balance and coordination.
The back of your thigh most often gets sore when the hamstrings are strained. Keeping the area strong and limber with these basic exercises is an effective way to manage back of thigh pain and prevent future issues.
There are many different positions that you can stretch the hamstring in. One of the easiest ways to stretch the back of the thigh is sitting in a chair or on the edge of your bed.
Alternatively, you can try to touch your toes in standing or lie on your back with a stretching strap or towel.
Hip extension requires coordination of the abdominal, glutes, and hamstrings. While the movement should primarily come from the glutes, the hamstrings do help. Making sure that you are properly coordinating hip extension, with the glutes being the primary leg movers, will help to heal and minimize strain to the back of the thigh.
Getting adequate pain relief from your thigh pain all starts with understanding what is causing it. From there, you can choose appropriate exercises to boost your recovery potential. Additionally, keep these tips in mind to maximize your recovery from thigh pain.
Pair your exercises with other treatment modalities for leg pain such as ice, heat, and TENs
Pay attention to your posture with daily activities to minimize thigh pain and strain, such as sitting and sleeping.
With the right exercises, you will be on the road to recovery with thigh pain in no time. Finding the correct balance of stretching and strengthening will increase blood flow for healing, boost flexibility, and decrease risk of future issues. Just determine your problem area in the thigh first and make a plan from there. If you are unsure of where to start or experience a change in symptoms, talk about your doctor or physical therapist for further medical advice.
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