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Though many women are focused on how their inner thighs look in shorts, few of us actually consider this area to be important outside of aesthetics. But your inner thighs are an integral part of your lower-body mechanics, and tight, immobile muscles here can cause poor balance, knee pain, ankle stiffness, lower-back pain and even a weakened core.
The five muscles of the inner thigh work to stabilize the outward rotation of your knees and help pull your legs inward toward the centerline of your body. Tightness here can be because of many factors, not the least of which is sitting for long periods of time, and can cause your knees to bow inward, throwing your posture off kilter and decreasing the effectiveness, power and safety of many lower-body lifts.
Do these moves preworkout to loosen the vice grip of your inner thighs while also activating your outer thighs, which shut down as your inner thighs tighten up.
Areas stretched: Inner thighs, lower back.
Sit with the soles of your feet together and allow your knees to fall open to the sides. Grasp your feet with both hands, draw your shoulders back, and sit up tall as you flutter your knees up and down. As you begin to loosen up, use your elbows to gently press your knees open. Do for one to two minutes.
Areas stretched: Hips, inner thighs, spine.
Stand with your feet outside shoulder-width apart and turn your toes out slightly. Drop your hips straight down as low as you can with your torso as erect as possible. Press your palms together and use your elbows to gently press your knees open, keeping your shoulders back and your spine straight. Hold for 30 seconds and then stand. Repeat two to three more times.
Lateral Lunge with Leg Rotation
Areas stretched: Inner thighs, ankles.
Stand with your feet double shoulder-width apart and turned out from your hips. Slowly lunge down and to the right, placing your hands on the floor in front of you for support. Your right knee should be bent 90 degrees, and your left leg should be straight, foot flexed. Rotate your left leg forward and back from your hip, pivoting on your heel, 10 to 15 times, then switch sides. Repeat one to two times per side.
One-Legged Half-Squat and Lift
Areas activated: Outer thighs, glutes.
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, hands on your hips. Shift your weight to your right leg and extend your left leg to the side. Bend your right knee and lower into a half-squat and hold here as you slowly lift and lower your left leg while keeping your hips square. Do 10 reps per side and repeat two to three times.
Areas activated: Outer thighs.
Attach a resistance-band loop to a rig or machine leg at about hip height. Position a low box (4 to 6 inches) several feet away from the anchor point. Stand sideways to the anchor and loop the band around your farthest leg just above your knee, then place that foot completely on top of the box, toes forward. Actively press your knee outward as you straighten your leg and stand up on top of the box. Slowly lower to the start. Do 10 reps on one side, then switch. Repeat two to three times.