Problem Solving Stretches: Use a gentle squeeze to help your hips and knees

  • Ginny Hamilton demonstrates two inner thigh strengthening squeezes: one can be done standing, using a roll of toilet paper, and one can be done seated, using a travel mug or water bottle. Photographed Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Ginny Hamilton demonstrates two inner thigh strengthening squeezes: one can be done standing, using a roll of toilet paper, and one can be done seated, using a travel mug or water bottle. STAFF PHOTOS/KEVIN GUTTING

For the Gazette
Published: 10/29/2019 9:45:03 AM

Do you stand like a duck?

Please stand up for a moment and take a look down at your feet. Do your toes point out to the sides? For most of us, the answer is yes.

This is often because our outer hip muscles, the hip rotators, are stronger than their counterparts on our inner thighs. As a general rule, stronger muscles are shorter. They pull the bones in their direction. In this case, stronger outer hip muscles rotate our legs outward.

Now, try squeezing your inner thighs together. Can you? Most likely, when you try to squeeze your inner thighs, your buttocks muscles engage. (This isn’t a problem; our buttocks could stand to be a little stronger, too!) Now put something between your thighs: a pillow, a rolled up sweatshirt, or — my all-time favorite suggestion from a client — a roll of toilet paper. Gently squeeze the object with your thighs. Feel those muscles on your inner thighs? You want to use them more.

Why? When our inner thighs are equally as strong as our outer hips, our hips and legs function from a parallel position, with knees and toes forward. In this neutral position, our knees take weight more evenly, relieving strain on our inner knees. Inner thigh strength takes the pressure off of our outer hips too, easing the ache of bursitis and sciatica. And inner thigh strength creates a little more space for our sacroiliac (SI) joints in the back of your pelvis to function smoothly.

Have I convinced you to strengthen your inner thighs yet? Give this simple strength building exercise a try.

Stand with your legs parallel, toes and knees facing forward, rather than toes pointing out to the sides. Roll up a hand towel or grab a spare roll of TP, and hold it between your thighs while you brush your teeth each morning and evening. Squeeze gently for 3-5 seconds, release, and repeat.

You can also do this exercise sitting down and use almost any item to squeeze. Soft objects are more comfy of course, but a water bottle will do. Whether standing or sitting, keep your legs parallel with knees and feet facing forward rather than toes pointing out to the sides. Place the object in the center of your thighs, about halfway between your knees and groin, not pressing directly into your knees.

Go for gentle pressure and more repetitions. Practice this inner thigh strengthening exercise once or twice each day, squeezing 5-12 times in a row, and repeat one to three sets. You might not notice a difference for a few weeks. Even so, commit to building strength over time. Your hips and knees will thank you for bringing inner thigh strength to bear.

Pain Specialist Ginny Hamilton studied Integrated Positional Therapy (IPT) with its founder, Lee Albert at the Kripalu Center in Lenox, MA. A certified yoga instructor and Reiki Master Teacher, Hamilton offers classes and private sessions in Amherst, Hadley, and South Hadley. Contact her at:

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