Easy Physical Therapy Thigh Muscle Stretches

The thigh describes the area of your leg above the knee joint and below the hip. These muscles help support your knee and hip joints and help move your femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone). Sometimes, these muscles become tight after injury or a period of inactivity and immobilization.

Five large muscle groups make up the thigh region:

  • Abductors: (like your gluteal muscles) Move the legs apart
  • Adductors: Bring the legs together
  • Hamstrings: Bend the knee and extend the hip backward
  • Hip flexors: Raise the leg or knee toward the torso
  • Quadriceps: Straighten the knee and bend the hip up

Watch Now: 3 Easy Ways to Stretch Your Thighs

Before starting this or any other exercise program, you should check with your doctor to be sure that exercising is safe for you to do.

Thigh Stretches

The muscles of the thigh may become tight due to the extended amount of time most people spend in the seated position during the workday. For this reason, it is important to stretch the thigh muscles frequently. There are three easy stretches that target the hip flexor, hamstring, and adductor muscle groups. These include the hip flexor stretch, the standing hamstring stretch, and the abductor stretch. Below, you also will find instructions and benefits of doing these stretches to relieve thigh tightness.


Hip Flexor Stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The hip flexors connect your hip bones to your leg bones. Tightness here may be one cause of pelvic or lower back pain. Here's how you stretch your hip flexors:

  1. Stand upright.
  2. Step forward with your right leg.
  3. Slowly bend your right knee keeping your left leg straight.
  4. Continue to bend your right knee until a gentle stretch is felt on top of the thigh.
  5. Avoid arching the back as you bend into your front leg.
  6. Hold for five seconds.
  7. Return to the start position.
  8. Repeat steps 1 to 7 five more times.
  9. Perform with left leg forward.

Remember to stop the stretch if it causes increased pain.


Standing Hamstring Stretch

Standing Hamstring Stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Your hamstrings run down the back of your thigh from you hip to the back of your knee. Here is how to stretch them:

  1. Stand upright.
  2. Bend over and attempt to touch your toes while keeping your knees straight.
  3. Continue until a gentle stretch is felt behind the knees.
  4. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds.
  5. Return to the start position.
  6. Repeat steps 1 to 5 five more times.

Stop this stretch if you feel any low back pain or increasd pain in your hamstrings.


Adductor Stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Your adductor muscles run from the inner side of your hip to the inner side of your knee. They help to pull your thighs together. Here is how you stretch them:

  1. Stand upright.
  2. Spread your legs shoulder-distance apart.
  3. Slowly lean to your right while bending your right knee.
  4. Keep your left leg straight.
  5. Continue until a gentle stretch is felt in your inner left thigh.
  6. Hold for five seconds.
  7. Return to the start position.
  8. Repeat steps 1 to 6 five more times.
  9. Perform this again, leaning to the left.

When stretching, a comfortable pull should be felt. Stop if you feel any pain.

By stretching your muscles a bit each day, you can have a positive effect on your overall mobility.

1 Source
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Mackenzie K, Such E, Norman P, Goyder E. Sitting less at work: A qualitative study of barriers and enablers in organisations of different size and sector. BMC Public Health. 2019;19(1):884. doi:10.1186/s12889-019-7148-8

By Laura Inverarity, PT, DO
Laura Inverarity, PT, DO, is a current board-certified anesthesiologist and former physical therapist.