How to Stretch Thigh Muscles (4 Easy Exercises)

Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Published by Christiana Mikesch, CPT | Senior Coach
Last updated: April 30, 2024
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Poor thigh flexibility can lead to lower back pain and decreased performance in activities.

Incorporating static and dynamic stretches helps avoid these side effects.

As a certified personal trainer, I've identified the best thigh-stretching exercises.

After reading the article, you will know how to perform 4 static/dynamic stretch thigh exercises to get your adductor muscles functional again.

Quick Summary

  • To effectively improve flexibility and stretch thigh muscles, incorporating exercises like hip flexor stretch, standing hamstring stretch, adductor stretch, and frog stretch into your routine is crucial.
  • Regularly perform these thigh stretches multiple times a day, maintaining each static stretch for a sufficient duration to effectively deepen the stretch.
  • Holding a static stretch for at least 15 seconds is essential, as this duration is necessary to deactivate the myotatic reflex, facilitating a deeper stretch.
  • In my opinion, these thigh stretches are vital for everyone, especially those with sedentary lifestyles, to maintain muscle flexibility and prevent discomforts like lower back pain.

4 Exercises to Stretch Your Thighs

A woman stretching her thighs on a yoga mat

Stretching exercises have been widely used to increase the flexibility of our muscles, but some studies indicate results for the recovery process, too [1].

Follow the instructions carefully for maximum benefit from these 4 exercises.

"You train for better strength, endurance, and cardio, but when was the last time you took the time to help your body move better? Mobility and flexibility can often be overlooked as they may not be as fun as other aspects of fitness. Lifting a barbell overhead or picking up clothes off the floor both rely on these two variables, so you shouldn’t lack either."

- Bree-Anna Burick, Certified Personal Trainer

1. Hip Flexor Stretch

A woman doing hip flexor stretches

Hip flexor stretch primarily targets the iliacus and psoas major muscles.

This stretch also benefits the inner thighs, aiding in tension release and recovery.

How to Perform a Hip Flexor Stretch

  1. Assume a lying position on the ground, bed, favorite exercise mat, or any other comfortable flat surface with enough space to fit your whole body.
  2. Keep your left leg straight while pulling the right knee to your chest without changing the curvature of your lumbar spine.
  3. Hold that position for at least 15 seconds, then switch the working leg.
  4. Repeat for a couple of sets and try to perform this stretch a couple of times a day if you successfully find the time to do it.

Read More: Lying Hip Flexor Stretches

2. Standing Hamstring Stretch

Standing hamstring stretch also targets adductor muscles and the posterior chain.

How to Perform a Standing Hamstring Stretch

  1. Assume a standing position with your legs and feet as close to each other as possible. Avoid hip or feet shoulder-width apart stance.
  2. Keep your knees extended during the whole motion of the exercise.
  3. Start the exercise by bending forward in your torso to stretch the hamstrings.
  4. The first variation of the exercise is when you only bend your hips and avoid bending in your thoracic spine. However, you may bend the thoracic spine and stretch your back too.
  5. Hold the end position for at least 15 seconds.
  6. Rest a little bit and repeat a few times in a single session.

Also Read: Seated Hamstring Stretches In Chair

3. Adductor Stretch

A person doing adductor stretch for the thighs

Adductor stretch does exactly what the name suggests; it effectively stretches your adductor complex through a more dynamic setup.

How to Perform Adductor Stretches

  1. Assume a stance wider than shoulder-width apart so you prepare for the side lunge motion to stretch your thigh muscles in the deep lateral squat position.
  2. Start the exercise by performing a side lunge on your right side by bending in your hips, knees, and ankles.
  3. When you reach the bottom lateral squat position, hold it for at least 15 seconds.
  4. Reverse the motion and repeat on the other side.

4. Frog Stretch

The frog stretch is my favorite since it will most impact your inner and outer thighs.

How to Perform a Frog Stretch

  1. Place your legs in the starting frog stretch position by abducting both limbs and placing the knees on the floor.
  2. Sit deep into the stretch by pushing your hips and butt behind. This will increase the stretch in your adductors.
  3. Hold the position for at least 15 seconds and repeat several times.

How to Tell if You’re Exercising at the Right Level

A person working out her thighs outside

Determine if you're stretching correctly by assessing results after a few training sessions.

In my experience, if soreness or tightness persists after several weeks and multiple workouts, it's important to reassess your stretching routine. I've found that sometimes adjusting the intensity or frequency of stretches can make a significant difference.

If needed, add different exercises, reduce lower-body workout intensity, or extend stretching sessions.

How Much Should I Hold Each Stretch Position?

You should hold each stretch position for at least 15 seconds.

Progressing beyond the initial 15-second hold, extending stretches up to 30 seconds can significantly improve flexibility. This gradual increase is key for deeper muscle engagement and effective injury prevention, especially for those advancing in their stretching routines.

Studies show that the inhibitory reflex, the myotatic reflex, stops being active after 15 seconds of holding a static stretching position [2].

FAQs

How Can I Loosen My Thigh Muscles?

You can loosen your thigh muscles by placing your right leg and left leg in the kneeling stretching frog position. This exercise is particularly useful for stretching inner and outer thigh muscles, but you must gently pull not to hurt your adductors.

What Causes Tight Thigh Muscles?

Repetitive movements and job positions requiring a substantial amount of sitting cause tight thigh muscles. In those scenarios, you must implement inner thigh stretch exercises to loosen the inner thigh muscles and avoid strains and low back pain.

How Do You Stretch the Front Thigh Muscles?

To stretch the front thigh muscles, you must perform inner thigh stretches based on a hip-flexor-based exercise. During this exercise, your front and inner thigh stretch, especially when your body is as close to the left knee or right knee based on the side you pick.

References: 

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8068839/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3273886/
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About The Author

Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Senior Coach
Christiana Mikesch, CPT is a personal trainer and author with contributions to publications like the Chicago Tribune and Yahoo. She emphasizes a holistic approach to weight loss, combining an energy-fueling diet, goal-oriented workouts, and daily habits. Her approach avoids short-term goals and fosters a lifelong commitment to health and well-being.
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Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer
Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health and is the owner of Taylor Made Fitness. Her philosophy centers on cutting through the hype and misinformation surrounding dietary supplements, focusing instead on practical, science-backed strategies for health and weight loss.
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Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
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