Saturday, November 17, 2001
Are you prone to inner thigh jiggle? Would you like to whip those adductor muscles into shape so one thigh isn't rubbing against the other when you walk across the room in your underpants?
Help is on the way. It's called the Inner Thigh Squeeze, an isometric exercise that works very well if you're willing to focus your effort, squeezing and holding and breathing and being patient.
First, how to do it. Then why to do it:
Step one. Lie on your back on a rug or a mat, your arms at your side. Lift your legs to an angle that is comfortable for you and your lower back. If you can get them to a 90-degree angle, go for it. (A lesser angle will work, too.) Relax your body and listen to your breath for a few seconds.
Step two. Now place an exercise ball between your knees. It could be as small as a tennis ball, but something bigger and bouncier would be better, like one of those 50- or 75-centimeter exercise balls. Make sure your feet are flexed (your toes pointing back toward your head), with your head and shoulders resting comfortably on the mat.
Step three. Focus your attention on your adductor (inner thigh) muscles and slowly squeeze them together as the ball provides challenging resistance. Take three to five seconds to squeeze, then hold it for another three to five seconds, really maxing it out, then slowly release. Don't hold your breath. In fact, you should use your breath to maximize your effort, exhaling with enthusiasm as you isolate and feel your inner thigh working hard.
Step four. Consider eight to 12 squeezes a set and aim for one to three sets each session. By all means rest between sets, but not more than a minute.
Keep in mind:
You want the small of your back pressed into the mat. No arching. Also, as you bend your legs and squeeze, don't allow your hips to lift off the floor. Your head should stay down too; keep it relaxed and keep smiling. And keep the ball between your knees, not your feet. As you squeeze, visualize your adductor muscles running up along the inseams of your legs a river of energy connecting your pubis bone to the inner edge of your knee.
River of energy
Vanity is only one reason you want tighter thighs. There's a much better reason, well expressed by Tias Little, a very smart yoga teacher based in Santa Fe, N.M. "All your arterial flow (blood and other precious fluids) flows through the inseam of your leg, your inner leg," says Tias, who teaches workshops on the anatomy of yoga.
It's helpful to see this pathway your adductors as "rivers of energy" that flow to and nurture your entire body, especially that vital area that Tias calls "the femoral triangle" (inner groin area). If your adductors are active and long and strong, your entire body will benefit from a greater flow of energy. If you allow your inner groin area to collapse and soften, it puts a drain on your whole system and contributes to low back pain, says Tias, who is reachable through his Web site at www.yogasource-santafe.com. So another place to go for stronger adductors tighter thighs is to many of the standing and sitting poses of yoga.
Yoga can help
Yoga's good for stress, too, and even a total newcomer can benefit from the following two exercises, as recommended by Yoga Journal. Anyone can do them, anytime. In these times of extreme stress, they are especially useful, since they alleviate anxiety and promote a calm mind.
Deceptively simple, dramatic benefits. Relax on your stomach with your arms folded on the floor above your head. It's easier to release all your tension with your belly and face to the ground. Practice deep breathing in this pose, allowing your diaphragm to rise and fall. This kind of yogic breathing is calming and empowering.