Rethinking Inner Thigh Strength
Once upon a time, I made a little video making the case for not strengthening your inner thighs.
I recently watched it again and my advice is still on point. However, I’ve been working with a client recently who has me rethinking inner thigh strength.
If you want to watch the video for background information, here it is:
An Inner Thigh Case Study
The client I’ve been working with has been having pain on the right side of her abdomen and in her hip for about a year. Watch this video to see how she walks.
Do you notice how her right toes are turned out?
Well, that’s not because her foot is out of alignment. When you walk duck-footed, your thigh bone rotates outward from the hip socket.
Turned out feet are a hip muscle imbalance….not a foot problem.
Her pain happens to be in her hip when she’s standing for an extended period of time. But this imbalance could easily cause knee or ankle pain in someone else.
Now, guess how long she’s been walking like this? Hint: as long as she can remember.
Muscle imbalances start when we’re young! It’s just the pain is showing up now because no corrections have been made to this point.
She said, “Well, at least I’ve had 40-some years of pain-free movement.” Yes, but now it’s time to take action which is where I come in.
(I’m hearing the Superman theme song right now.)
My Approach with Muscle Testing
First, I tested her inner thigh muscles. There are five of them that all contribute to the same movement: hip adduction and internal rotation.
All 5 failed the test, epicly. She had zero strength in her inner thigh muscles. That’s because they have been turned off by the brain.
Her leg is rotated out. The job of the inner thigh muscles is to keep the leg turned in. Those 5 muscles have been nonfunctional for a long time.
Her outer thigh muscles have taken over the job of leg position and are doing it a little too well. They are overactive and need to relax in order to restore muscular balance.
So, I find the one. The one outer thigh muscle that is controlling all the inner thigh muscles.
It’s her piriformis. A little, very problematic muscle in her pelvis.
Results and Homework
When she releases her piriformis with self massage, her inner thigh muscles all test strong. It’s seriously the coolest thing since Pokemon Go.
Her homework is to release her piriformis daily to get that sucker to chill out. Then do a few reps of light intensity inner thigh activation exercises to stimulate those guys into function.
She’s been pretty good about doing her homework. So after about 2 weeks, I watched her walk again.
Check out this improvement!
Now she still has work to do to undo her gait of the past 40 some years, but we’re on the right path. She also reports less hip pain while standing for extended periods.
So yes, she needs to strengthen her inner thighs. And if you walk duck-footed like she does, you likely need to as well.
This was a good reminder that general advice does not apply to everyone and each person must be looked at on a case by case basis.
So the answer to the question, should you strengthen your inner thighs is….it depends.
Because I have this other client who didn’t need to strengthen her inner thighs. Now I test. I don’t guess.