Core strength is based on the tone of three muscle groups I refer to as the holy trinity. They are the inner thighs, the pelvic floor and the abdominals. When these three muscle groups are toned properly the psoas major, the most important muscle in the body, is properly supported. I don’t believe that we can move well or age well without the support of the psoas that these three muscle groups provide.
Strength isn’t always a good word for these discussions. Tone and balance are much better signifiers of what we are looking for. Muscle imbalance is one of the leading causes of back pain and the general degeneration of the body. Today we will look at the inner thighs- why they tend to be weak and how we can make them stronger.
All muscle groups have opposites that are meant to work together to accomplish our physical tasks. If one muscle engages or shortens, another muscle with relax or lengthen to accommodate the first muscle. This is going on unconsciously in your body, all day long.
A classic imbalance that I think plagues a large portion of the population is the relationship between the inner and outer thighs. We tend to be very tight in the outer thighs and lax and weak in the inner thighs. You know if you fall into this category from the way your feet are positioned when standing and when walking or running. If your feet are turned out when walking or standing your inner thighs will not be playing the game as designed.
Tucking the pelvis under while standing, which makes your thighs lean so that they are forward of the hip rather than directly underneath, it is the main postural problem that we all face. Everything else that goes wrong in the body is a result of pelvic tucking.
When we tuck our pelvis and let our thighs move forward the IT band of the outer thigh is pulled into external rotation which is exactly the opposite of its function. The external rotation in the outer thigh translates into external rotation of the inner thigh—again the opposite of what it should be doing. The inner thighs should draw the legs toward the midline of the body and then assist in internal rotation, or sticking the butt out, to bring us to good posture.
I have met very few people who did not need to build strength in their inner thighs. The exercise in the picture above and the instructions below is designed to help you isolate the inner thighs and eliminate the use of the outer thighs, the butt, or anything else. Once you build tone through this basic exercise you can move on to more advanced and intense inner thigh strengtheners. Core strength is what we all need to age gracefully through life.
Core Strength: Block Between the Thighs on the Floor
- Lay on your back with the knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Place a block between your inner thighs. Engaging the inner thigh muscles against the block try to isolate them and use the quadriceps, and outer thighs, as little as possible.
- Don’t grip your buttocks.
- Lift the hips up and continue to squeeze the block, drawing the low belly in to stabilize the spine.
- Hold for a count of 10 breaths. Try to hold longer as you feel stronger. Hold for less if you need to. See if you can build up staying for three minutes.