Inner-Thigh Stretches to Improve Groin Flexibility

Inner-thigh stretches are a great way to release tension and improve flexibility in your inner-thigh muscles, also known as the groin or adductors. The adductor muscle group is a set of five muscles that bring your leg in toward the center of your body. With most of the adductors, one end of the muscle is attached to the pubic bone; the other attaches on or near the thigh bone (femur).

There are two exceptions. They are: 

  • The hamstring part of the adductor magnus starts at the sitting bone. The more technical name for the sitting bone is the ischial tuberosity.
  • The gracilis muscle attaches onto the inner surface of the top of your tibia, or lower leg, bone.

The adductors work in opposition to the outer thigh muscles, known as the abductors. The job of the abductor muscle group is to take the lower extremity away from the body's midline. Strengthening the abductors helps support the weight of the pelvis and greater flexibility in the groin.

Together the abductor and adductor muscle groups play a big role in pelvic positioning, which in turn can affect the alignment of your spine

Because of this, one way to positively influence the flexibility of your low back is to release both inner- and outer-thigh muscles. This article focuses on inner-thigh stretches.

Dynamic Inner-Thigh Stretches

Dynamic stretches are active movements that put muscles into their full range of motion. They differ from static stretches, which involve holding a stretch for a period of time without movement. Dynamic stretches are great for warming up the muscles and joints before exercising or static stretching.

Lateral Leg Swings

Lateral leg swings


Dynamic lateral leg swings are a great way to warm up the adductor and abductor muscles while improving flexibility.

To perform dynamic lateral leg swings:

  1. Face your body towards a wall, a sturdy object, or a pole, and hold onto it.
  2. Shift your weight onto your right leg, and swing your left leg to the left side of your body then across and in front of your body to the right side.
  3. Repeat this movement five to 10 times.

Gate Opener

Gate opener stretch

Hartford Healthcare Rehabilitation Network

The gate opener is a dynamic stretch that can help open your hips and stretch the adductors while working on your balance. To perform the gate opener:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Raise your left knee until it's level with your waist, then move it towards the left side of your body as far as you can. You can hold onto a wall or a sturdy object for assistance if needed.
  3. Return your knee back to the center of your body, waist level.
  4. Repeat the movement five to 10 times on each leg.

Static Inner-Thigh Stretches

Static stretching involves holding a position that stretches a muscle group without movement. It's best to perform static stretches after your body is warmed up from dynamic stretching or exercise.

Butterfly Stretch

Easy inner thigh stretch.

The butterfly stretch may help open your hips and increase adductor flexibility.

To perform the butterfly stretch:

  1. Sit on the floor or, if need be, your bed. The floor is better because it's a harder surface, which may help you avoid excess muscle contraction.
  2. Place the soles of your feet together and let your knees drop out to the side.
  3. Stay in this position for about 5 seconds. Be sure to keep breathing!
  4. Extend your legs out straight to give your adductors a break.
  5. Repeat between 3 to 5 times.

When you first start, you may find your knees don't go down very far. That's OK—work with what you have.

Seated Inner-Thigh Stretch

Basic inner thigh groin stretch.

To perform the seated adductor thigh stretch:

  1. Extend your legs out to the side, making a wide a "V" shape. To avoid joint strain, don't overdo this position.
  2. For some people, simply sitting like this is enough to produce an inner-thigh stretch.
  3. If you need more stretch, keeping your back straight, lean towards the floor from your hip joints. Again, go only as far as you can without pain or discomfort.
  4. Stay there for about 5-10 seconds; remember to breathe.

The key here is to work in a safe zone that gives you some stretch challenge but where you also feel like you can manage without excessive discomfort. In other words, don't go to the point where your back, hip, or sacroiliac joint feel like they are being pulled out of alignment.

You'll improve and get more range if you practice this regularly, so it's OK to take it easy at first. Keep your back straight when you come up and if you need, use your hands to push against the floor for leverage.

Side Lunge

Side Lunge

Lacheev / Getty images

Another good static stretch for your inner thighs is the side lunge. To perform the side lunge:

  1. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. While keeping your left leg straight, take a large step to the right side of your body with your right foot and squat, ensuring you place your body weight over your right knee.
  3. Hold this position for 10-30 seconds. You should feel the stretch in your left groin area.
  4. Go back to the starting position and repeat the stretch on the opposite side.

Strategy for Groin Muscle Flexibility

Strengthen outer thighs to release groin.

It can pay to be strategic when going for inner-thigh flexibility. Along with the previous stretches, consider strengthening the opposing muscle group, which are, again, the abductors.

Strong outer thigh muscles help support and carry the weight of your pelvis and spine, which in turn may relieve the inner thighs from some of this responsibility.

Try this basic abductor strengthener:

  1. Lie on your side.
  2. Prop yourself up onto your forearm.
  3. Lift and lower your top leg up slowly.
  4. Repeat about 10-15 times for one or two sets. You can do this every other day.

Don't forget to stretch your outer thigh muscles when you're done with this one.

Inner-Thigh Flexibility Tips

Choose activities that elongate your groin muscles.

Another inner-thigh flexibility strategy is to choose activities in which you use your body, particularly your lower extremities, in lengthening ways.

For example, the martial artist shown is likely getting an excellent stretch in his adductors while at the same time contracting and using these muscles. This may be because his lower extremity is extending out while he is bearing weight on it.

Activities that stretch your inner thigh include yoga, Pilates, dance, tai chi, and martial arts.

While the focus of this article has been limited inner-thigh stretches, remember to address the other hip muscles, as well. If you sit a lot during your day, releasing your quadriceps muscles is key.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What causes tight inner thighs?

    There can be a number of causes for inner-thigh tightness. For example, a minor groin strain may be to blame. Being inactive or sitting for too long may also cause feelings of muscle tightness.

  • Why do my inner thighs hurt?

    Inner-thigh pain commonly results from trauma to the groin, such as from a strain or a hernia. Less common causes of inner-thigh pain include kidney stones, skin infections, and urinary tract infections.

  • What are good inner-thigh stretches for seniors?

    Older adults should perform stretches that are not too difficult or strenuous; you don't have to push beyond your limits to see results. The butterfly and seated inner-thigh stretch are two good inner-thigh stretches for seniors.

  • When is the best time for runners to do inner-thigh stretches?

    It's best to perform dynamic stretches before running. One study showed that warming up with dynamic stretching was better at improving repeated-sprint performance than static or no stretching. Static stretching is ideal for after exercise, however.

  • Are inner-thigh stretches safe for those who are pregnant?

    Non-strenuous exercises and stretching are generally safe for those who are pregnant. Inner-thigh stretches that do not involve jerky, bouncy, or high-impact movements are recommended.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Kett AR, Milani TL, Sichting F. Sitting for too long, moving too little: Regular muscle contractions can reduce muscle stiffness during prolonged periods of chair-sittingFront Sports Act Living. 2021;3:760533. doi:10.3389/fspor.2021.760533

  2. Penn Medicine. Groin pain.

  3. Zmijewski P, Lipinska P, Czajkowska A, Mróz A, Kapuściński P, Mazurek K. Acute effects of a static vs. a dynamic stretching warm-up on repeated-sprint performance in female handball playersJ Hum Kinet. 2020;72:161-172. doi:10.2478/hukin-2019-0043

  4. Office on Women's Health. Pregnancy: Staying healthy and safe.

By Anne Asher, CPT
Anne Asher, ACE-certified personal trainer, health coach, and orthopedic exercise specialist, is a back and neck pain expert.