Do Leg Lifts or Crunches Cause Thigh Pain?

Crunches strengthen abdominal muscles.

Crunches strengthen abdominal muscles.

Anyone working on getting a six pack is familiar with crunches and leg raises. What you may not know is that these kind of abdominal strengthening exercises commonly involve secondary muscle groups. Because of this, you may experience pain or discomfort in areas other than your abdominal muscles during these exercises. By becoming familiar with the exercises and muscles involved, you can determine whether pain in other locations is normal for the exercise or due to poor form.

Leg Lifts

Leg lifts, also known as leg-hip raises, are performed by lying on your back on a flat surface. Raise your legs by flexing your hips and knees until your hips are fully flexed. Continue raising your knees toward your shoulders by flexing your waist, raising your hips from the ground. Return to your starting position with your waist hips and knees extended. The target muscle group strengthened during leg lifts is the abs. The stabilizing muscle group involved in leg raises is the rectus femoris muscle in the front of your thigh. Because of this, it is normal to experience muscle fatigue or pain in your thigh while performing leg lifts. Just think of this leg toning as an added bonus.

Crunches

Crunches are performed by lying on your back on a flat surface, with your lower legs resting on a bench and your hands positioned behind your neck or head. To perform a crunch, flex your waist and raise your upper torso from the mat. Your lower back should maintain contact with the mat as you raise your torso as high up as possible. Slowly return to your starting position. The target muscle groups of a crunch are the abdominal muscles. There are no significant synergistic or stabilizing muscles involved, so thigh pain experienced during a crunch is more likely to be caused by improper form or an injury.

Evaluating Your Form

Crunches are performed by lying on your back on a flat surface, with your lower legs resting on a bench and your hands positioned behind your neck or head. To perform a crunch, flex your waist and raise your upper torso from the mat. Your lower back should maintain contact with the mat as you raise your torso as high up as possible. Slowly return to your starting position. The target muscle groups of a crunch are the abdominal muscles. There are no significant synergistic or stabilizing muscles involved, so thigh pain experienced during a crunch is more likely to be caused by improper form or an injury.

Trying Other Exercises

If you are still experiencing thigh pain during leg lifts or crunches after you have ruled out improper form, it may not be a bad idea to consider trying different exercises. Luckily, there is a vast array of exercises in various positions that strengthen your abdominal muscles, so don’t be discouraged. If pain persists, see your doctor for an evaluation.

 

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Penn., Alandra Greenlee is co-founder of two startups. Using her medical degree, she is dedicated to spreading health and knowledge through digital health. Greenlee specializes in fitness, nutrition and basic health writing. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in microbiology from Michigan State University.

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