Unfortunately, there is no such thing as spot reduction, even from your thighs. Yet, running does torch hundreds of calories, which can help you lose weight, and builds lean muscle mass throughout your legs. Don’t worry; this won’t equal bulky legs. Running strengthens and tones your thigh muscles, which can make them appear sleeker and more toned.
When you lace up your sneakers and set off for a run, your body uses your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, hip and calf muscles to propel you forward. The muscles in your thighs are especially important when you run because they help keep your knees and feet in proper alignment and ensure you land each step safely.
Several muscles cover your thighs, which is the whole region between your hip and your knee. Your glutes begin in your buttock and stretch down to cover the sides and back of your thighs. Your hamstrings run along the back of your legs. Your quadriceps run along the front of your upper leg. Your adductor muscles are situated on the insides of your thighs.
Toning While Running
When you run, you engage all the muscles in your thighs. Your quadriceps engage when you run downhill and your hamstrings and glutes engage when you climb a hill or sprint. Your adductor muscles remain engaged to stabilize your stride and to prevent your hip from collapsing or sagging when you push off the ground. If you are new to running, start slowly and gradually increase to running continuously for 30 minutes most days of the week.
Thigh Muscle Imbalances
While running strengthens and tones your thighs, it doesn’t do so evenly. It leads to some muscular imbalances that cannot be corrected through running alone. If you want evenly toned thighs and to avoid unnecessary injuries, add a few strength-training moves to your routine. Your quadriceps are most likely stronger than your hamstrings. The best way to strengthen your hamstrings is by doing one-legged hamstring curls and one-legged deadlifts and using a foam roller to alleviate tightness. Weak hip and glute muscles cause other common running injuries. Running when these muscles are weak can lead to iliotibial band syndrome (IT band syndrome) or patellofemoral pain syndrome (runner’s knee). Avoid both of these injuries by doing lateral side steps, single-legged squats and side leg lifts.
Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.