If you want an hourglass physique, tummy tightening ab exercises are the way to go. Yet a belly-busting routine can leave your inner thighs aching. That’s why it’s always best to consult a physician before beginning a new exercise program. But when pain does occur, knowing the causes of inner thigh pain after an ab workout can help you prevent it.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
Exercising -- even on a regular basis -- can result in delayed onset muscle soreness. With DOMS, your muscles may not ache until the next day. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, delayed onset muscle soreness can happen even in seasoned athletes. When you do abdominal exercises, you may feel a stretch in your adductors -- the muscles of your inner thigh and groin -- and hips. Even without targeting the thighs, those ab exercises tugging the lower abdominal muscles naturally pull those brevis, longus and magnus adductors. DOMS can cause mild swelling, stiffness and tenderness, notes the ACSM.
If your ab routine results in a strain, you'll feel the pain now, not later. According to the Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, when you strain your inner thigh, the pain is a sudden sharp pain that can be rather intense. If you feel a "twang" in your thigh, stop exercising. Then watch for tenderness, bruising and swelling. Your doctor can usually make a diagnosis without x-rays, but may run tests to rule out a fracture.
The treatment for inner thigh pain depends on the cause. If you were able to keep crunching despite mild pain or swelling, you're likely suffering from DOMS. In that case, a doctor's visit is probably not needed, notes the American College of Sports Medicine. With a short rest from activity, DOMS should heal within three to five days, according to the ACSM. With mild delayed onset muscle soreness, you can exercise through the discomfort. However, if you're tackling a strain, prepare for recovery mode. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends the R.I.C.E. – rest, ice, compression and elevation -- protocol. As soon as you suspect a strain, rest the thigh, use ice packs and wrap the area in a bandage. Then prop up your leg, elevating it higher than your heart. Use a barrier between the ice and your skin, and keep cold pack usage to 20 minutes at a time. Taking an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug can ease swelling and discomfort.
The saying is true: Prevention is the best medicine. Take the time before you do ab work to prevent DOMS and strains. Prevent them from putting a kink in your abdominal workout by easing into exercises. The American College of Sports Medicine claims that going slow allows the muscles to adjust to the demands a new routine or exercise asks for. Add in a warm-up period and thigh stretches, and you're covered for strains too, notes the AAOS.
Having studied at two top Midwestern universities, Catherine Field holds degrees in professional writing and patient safety. Writing since 2000, Field has worked with regional newspapers while publishing fiction online. She conducts medical communication research at a Midwestern medical institution and is slated to write a book based on her research findings.