I used to suffer from the WORST knee pain! I thought my legs were pretty strong. I regularly did glute work, squats, calf raises, side leg raises, running etc. But I had this one running injury in my knee that just... would... not... go away. Little did I realize at the time that it was actually my inner thighs that were the issue. They were SO tight that they were literally pulling on my knee joint. (And if you've been following along for a while, you already know that tightness usually also means weakness).
Every muscle in our body needs to be both strong AND flexible in order to function well.
When we want a better looking, tighter behind, (and less knee pain) we often start focusing on exercises to work the glutes, but what about the all-important inner thighs? For many of us, the inner thigh muscles are both weak AND tight which can cause restricted hip mobility, poor leg alignment, extra wear-and-tear on the knee joints, and even low back pain!
From observation, many of us tend to squeeze the legs together starting at the knees (rather than engaging the full length of the muscle) which only puts more stress on the already stressed-out knee joints.
1. REDUCES KNEE PAIN
The inner thighs provide support for both the pelvis AND the knee joint and work to stabilize the leg for healthy, pain-free movement at the knee. Unlike the hip joint, which is a ball and socket joint, the knee joint can only flex and extend, so without adequate support on the inside and outside of the thigh, the risk of knee injury (and/or pain) significantly increases.
2. IMPROVES ANKLE MOBILITY
If you have poor ankle mobility, tight calves, and/or heel pain, there's a chance it could be being caused by what’s happening at the other end of your leg. The inner thigh muscles also affect how you stand – (think rolling in or out at the ankle). With the right amount of inner thigh support at the hip-end of your leg, you can help improve posture, reduce foot and ankle pain and improve ankle mobility to avoid sprains and other debilitating foot, knee and hip problems.
3. IMPROVES BALANCE
The inner thighs are an important part of stabilizing the hip joint and maintaining balance when you stand and walk. This is especially important as we age and our bodies become less stable.
4. REDUCES HIP PAIN
The inner thighs work to stabilize the leg as it moves forward and back as we walk and run. They are also essential for support and movement for lateral (side-to-side) movement. Sports like tennis, basketball and horseback riding are much more likely to cause injury without strong inner thighs.
5. BETTER CORE & PELVIC FLOOR SUPPORT
Since your inner thighs cross directly over your pubic bone and attach into the core, when they are tight, they can literally pull the pelvis out of alignment, making it more difficult to fully access your core. Your inner thighs can also dramatically affect your posture and movement habits. For a strong core, good pelvic support and efficient pelvic floor function make for a great foundation for hip movement and a healthy, well-aligned spine and pelvis. It's all connected!
Understanding how to use your inner thighs efficiently, as well as how they relate to the rest of your body to improve balance, improve hip mechanics, eliminate knee pain, improve ankle mobility and improve core support is all part of the process of retraining your body to work smarter not harder. When you understand the value of efficient body mechanics you are one step closer to a more functional, pain-free body. And who doesn't want that from themselves?!
Sometimes the inner thighs have become so sleepy that it takes intentional mind-body connection, deliberate muscle engagement, and fine-tuning of your movement habits in order to re-activate the inner thighs.
Ball Squeezes – add a ball in between your inner thighs to almost any exercise to add extra inner thigh work
Inner Thigh Circles – lay on your side and make high circles with your bottom leg (in Strong Mama we add ankle weights for extra burn)
Wide Squats with heel lifts
Check out the Mama Method here:
A 6-week program that teaches you exactly how to rehab your body - like a pro. No more piecing together random youtube videos and hoping they help you heal your body from all of your annoying symptoms. You’ll gett access to the exact strategies I teach my private clients (without the massive investment).