Inner Thigh Exercises for Reducing Back Pain

Adductor weakness could be contributing to your discomfort

Building key muscle groups like your neglected adductors (inner thighs) is one of the most effective ways to fend off back pain. Poor hip stability from weak or tight adductors can lead to low back pain or make it worse. Strengthen these muscles with targeted exercises, however, and you can build a balanced chain of muscles to support your hips and back.

Research supports the value of the effort, noting that adductors and other hip-centric muscles (like your abductors, or outer hips) play crucial roles in positioning and stabilizing your pelvis, which, in turn, helps to keep your low back happy.

To target your adductors, add these simple exercises to any workout a few times a week. They are incredibly effective and take very little time.


Supine Adduction Squeeze

A woman exercises her adductor muscles.

Lie 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, hold for a beat, and release 10-20 times. Coordinate the squeezes with your exhale, and the releases with your inhale.

This is a terrific exercise for beginners, but it's also good for more experienced exercisers' easy days or when they’re not feeling well.


Thigh High Chair Lift

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

Lie on your left side. Place the ankle and foot of your top leg on the seat of a chair. Keep your bottom leg lined up with the top.

Keep your trunk, shoulders, and neck stationary while you lift your lower leg up to touch the chair seat, hold for a beat, then set it down.

Keeping the rest of your body engaged and in alignment is more important than getting height to the leg lift. The leg lift, combined with excellent form, is what “gets” the adductors. (You'll get better with practice.)

Try to lift on your exhale and lower on your inhale. Do 10 reps and switch legs. Build from there as you get stronger.


Side Burns

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

This is a more challenging exercise.

Lie on your left side with a small or medium-sized squishy ball between your ankles and your upper body weight resting on your left forearm. Keeping the ball squeezed between your ankles, lift your legs several inches and hold for 2 to 10 seconds, then bring them down.

The ball between your ankles gives you proprioception, or a chance to feel where your legs are in space, relative to one another. The ball also produces a little more adductor muscle contraction.

Remember to breathe steadily while your legs are in the air. Perform 3-10 reps (depending on your fitness level, and, of course, your pain level), then switch sides and repeat.

2 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. Sai Kumar N. Efficacy of adductor pull back exercise on pain and functional disability for sacroiliac joint dysfunction. International Journal of Physiotherapy. 2015;2(4). doi: 10.15621/ijphy/2015/v2i4/67748

  2. Jang EM, Kim MH, Oh JS. Effects of a bridging exercise with hip adduction on the emg activities of the abdominal and hip extensor muscles in females. Journal of Physical Therapy Science. 2013;25(9):1147-1149. doi: 10.1589/jpts.25.1147

Additional Reading

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