Strengthen Your Inner Thigh Muscle Group to Reduce Back Pain

So many muscle groups to hit – so little time - as anyone who is truly committed to a therapeutic exercise program can tell you. Is this your conundrum, too?

It can certainly be tempting to work the most commonly touted muscles groups—such as your abs, back, pecs, lats, quads, and hamstrings—and then call it a day. And if you don’t like to exercise, but you do it because you know you have to, the effect is likely amplified.

If you’re exercising as a way of staving off back pain, it’s important to not skip less well-known muscles, such as your outer and inner hips. These groups play key roles in positioning your pelvis, which in turn helps to keep your low back happy.


Fitness Tips for Your Backache - Strengthen Your Muscles

Group stretching at gym
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For Your Back's Sake, Strengthen both Inner and Outer Hip Muscles

One way to target outer thigh muscles is to make like a flamingo—in other words, include one-legged balance exercise in your routine. 

For targeting inner thigh muscles (called your “adductors”) which are key for rounding out the stability of your pelvic position (as provided by your other hip muscles, plus your core and back muscles), as well as for help you to balance your body weight during standing, slide on. 


Fitness Tips for Beginners With Backaches - Easy Adductor Pulses

A woman exercises her adductor muscles.

Fitness Tips for Beginners With Backaches - Adductor Pulses for Beginners and People With Back Pain

A great way beginners and people with back pain can get their adductors going is simply by lying supine (on your back) with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, and place a small, squishy ball between your knees. Gently squeeze the ball and release about 10-20 times. Try to coordinate the squeezes with your exhale, and the releases with your inhale.

By the way, this is also a good exercise for more experienced exercises on an easy day workout or when you’re not feeling well.


Fitness Tips for Beginners with Backaches - Use a Chair to Strengthen Groin

A woman uses a chair to help strengthen her adductor muscles.

Fitness Tips for Beginners with Backaches - Use a Chair to Strengthen Your Inner Thigh Muscles

Another inner thigh strengthening exercise suitable for most beginners and many with low back pain uses a chair.

Lying on your side, place the ankle and foot of your top leg on the seat of your chair. Keep the bottom leg line up with the top (except that there’s a chair in between the two.)

Keeping good form in your trunk, neck head, and shoulders, lift your lower leg up and then set it down again. Keeping the rest of your body in alignment is more important than getting height to the leg lift. This is because the leg lift, combined with excellent form is what “gets” the adductors. 

As with the adductor pulses described on the previous slide, try to coordinate your effort with your exhale.


Add Core Challenge to Your Groin Strengthener

A woman works on her core strength in the sidelying position.

Fitness Tips for Beginners With Backaches - Add Core Challenge to Your Groin Strengthener

As your adductors get stronger, you might consider progressing yourself to higher levels of challenge. One such exercise is a variation of the side lying groin stretch presented in an earlier slide where the goal was to lift the bottom leg up while keeping good form. 

In this variation, you’ll place a small or medium-sized squishy ball between your ankles, and lift both legs up simultaneously. Hold for 2 to 10 seconds and come down. The ball between your ankles gives you "proprioception," or a chance to feel where your legs are both in space, and relative to one another. The ball also produces a little more adductor muscle contraction.

Please remember to breathe while your legs are in the air! Repeat the lift 3-10 times, depending on your fitness level, and, of course, your pain levels. If the exercise causes pain, do an easier version or don’t do this one at all. By the way, this variation adds challenge to core muscles, as well as your groin.

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