Yoga can work wonders when it comes to fixing stiff muscles and correcting imbalance. City Yogis brings us a pose of the month, Butterfly Pose, for runners to stretch out the inner thighs.
To do this pose, begin in staff pose (pictured below) sitting with your legs straight out in front of you. Your spine should be elongated and your shoulders relaxed. Slightly bend your knees if you find it difficult. Inhale and on the exhale, bend your knees bringing the soles of your feet together in front of you (your knees will be winging out to each side).
Inhale again and on the exhale, drop your knees away from one another to feel a stretch in the inner thigh and groin muscle. Never force the stretch but rather, gradually allow your knees to fall. Clasp your hands around your feet. You can use your hands as leverage to open your chest here.
Ensure your spine remains straight and long and your shoulders relaxed. If this feels comfortable, begin to recline your torso forward bringing your chest towards your feet. Hinge from your hips as opposed to your core.
Hold this pose for one to five minutes before coming back to a seated position. Use blocks or blankets under each knee for support if need be. You can also move your feet further away from your body to make the stretch less intense.
Butterfly pose, also known as Baddha Konasana, is a restorative pose. In this position, the hips flex, stretching the adductor muscles along the inside of your thighs. The upper body, including the arms shoulders and back, works to connect the hands to the feet and maintain a long spine.
Your adductors are a group of muscles running along your inner thigh, stretching from your pelvis down to your femur. They pull your legs towards one another and help to rotate your hip joint. They also help to stabilize your knee as you move your legs forward while running.
It’s common for runners to have tight adductor muscles and that leads to injury. If your inner thighs are too tight, you may end up straining your knees or putting unnecessary strain on surrounding muscles.
An advantage of doing this pose is that runners ease into it slowly. Attempting to quickly stretch your inner thighs can also create problems. Rush this pose and you run the risk of over stretching your groin.
Below is a further breakdown of how this pose activates, strengthens and stretches your muscles:
The sartorial (the muscle that runs across the front of your thigh from your hip to the inside of your knee), the glute medius and glute maximus work together to turn the hips out and help to slowly lengthen your adductor muscles. The back of your legs, specifically your hamstrings, are activated to bend your knees and engage to lengthen the quads.
The muscles that run along your spine, known as the erector spine muscles, are activated as your lengthen and lift your back.
Your bicep muscles are activated when your bend your elbows. These muscles are strengthened as you clasp your feet. Your trapezius muscles and rhomboids (across your upper back) connect to the shoulders and are engaged to allow you to pull your shoulder blades together while you open your chest.