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Woman in triangle pose next to river

You likely give your back, shoulders, quads, and glutes plenty of attention, but you may tend to forget your inner thighs, or hip adductors. Letting this area get tight may cause poor pelvic positioning plus inner-knee and lower-back issues.

The hip-adductor muscles pull your legs toward your body, control movement at the knee, and help your hamstrings and gluteus maximus extend the hip.

When your adductors get tight — often the result of sitting for long periods — lower-body movements can feel stiff and awkward, notes orthopedic specialist Stephanie Carter Kelley, PhD, PT. This immobility can throw off your pelvis, stressing your lower back, knees, and groin.

“To optimize movement and prevent injury to the adductors, regular stretching can go far,” she says.

To counteract stiffness, Carter Kelley suggests flowing through the following moves every other day for two to three weeks. After that, incorporate these exercises into your routine once or twice weekly.

Triangle Pose

This classic yoga pose opens up the long hip-adductor muscles that run from the pelvis to the knee.

illustration of Triangle pose
  • From a standing position, step your feet wider than shoulder-width and point your right foot out (about 90 degrees). Keep your left foot pointed forward.
  • Extend your arms out to the sides to form a T.
  • Keeping both legs straight, shift your weight into your left hip.
  • With your spine straight, reach your right hand over your right foot and bend your trunk toward your right leg by hinging from the hip.
  • Touch your right hand to your right leg, a yoga block, or chair. Reach your left hand toward the ceiling, letting your gaze follow.
  • Breathe deeply and hold for one to two minutes. Repeat on the opposite side. 

Wide-Leg Forward Bend

The wide-leg forward bend helps stretch out the adductors, as well as the hamstrings.

illustration forward fold
  • From a standing position, step your feet wider than shoulder-width, toes pointed forward.
  • Keeping your back flat and legs straight, hinge at the hips to bend forward (rather than rounding your back to reach forward).
  • Place both palms flat on the floor or elevated on yoga blocks. Use a chair if you can’t keep your spine straight and reach the yoga blocks. You should feel a gentle stretch in your inner and back of the thighs.
  • Hold in this position or walk your hands over to one leg to deepen the stretch on one side.
  • Breathe deeply and hold for one to two minutes.

Deep Primal Squat

Spending time in a deep squat helps stretch out the short adductors in the groin area and mobilizes the hip, knee and ankle joints.

illustration of malasana or deep primal squat
  • From a standing position, step your feet wider than shoulder-width and point your toes outward (about 45 degrees).
  • Squat down to bring your butt to your heels.
  • Lift your chest to straighten your spine and place both elbows against the insides of your knees.
  • Gently press your elbows into the insides of your knees to stretch out your inner thighs.
  • Try to keep your spine tall; don’t hunch forward.
  • Breathe deeply and hold for one to two minutes.
  • If you can’t comfortably squat to your heels, place one or two yoga blocks beneath your glutes. Adjust until you find a height where you can sit with your spine straight.
Illustrations by: Kveta
Lauren
Lauren Bedosky

Lauren Bedosky is a Twin Cities–based health-and-fitness writer.

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