Outer Thigh and Hip Stretch – seated butterfly with heels away

Butterfly stretch for the inner thighs, which we’ve featured in a video previously, is a common stretch. This outer thigh version, where we move your feet farther away, isn’t as common but a great compliment. They’re both done in the same position, seated on the floor with the soles of your feet together and your knees falling out to the side. So what’s the difference between the two? To encourage a stretch in your inner thigh, create a diamond that is WIDE, with your heels tucked in close to you. To encourage a stretch in your outer thigh and outer hip, create a diamond that is LONG, with your heels pushed farther away from you. In this video, I share the specifics of the latter, to help you get into good position to stretch the outside of your hip and thigh. So take a seat on your mat to try it!

In order to get the most out of this outer hip and outer thigh stretch, take a moment to review your spine once you’re in position. If you can sit with a tall spine, stay on the floor and continue your stretch. If you notice that it’s hard or impossible to not round in your mid or low back, adjust your position so that you can stay in this stretch with a mostly flat back. You can also achieve this by leaving your feet on the floor but elevating your hips. Sit on a Yoga bolster, a firm couch cushion or even a thick rolled up mat or blanket. Your thighs and knees will be farther away from your torso in this position and create more space for a tall spine. By being less flexed at the hips, a tall spine is more achievable and isolates the outer thigh and hip better. You can do this stretch with a rounded spine, just know that you’ll stretch your back as much as everything else.
Take notice of any difference in flexibility between the right and left leg. If you are tighter on one side in these areas, your knees may not easily fall to the same level. That’s totally fine and pretty common, but do your best to stretch straight down the middle even if one side is pulling more. By turning or leaning away from the side that is tighter, we encourage the imbalance to continue.
As with all static stretches, hold this position for 30 seconds at a minimum. Since it pairs so nicely with multitasking, consider staying for 2 minutes or more to encourage greater flexibility.
Not feeling like the outer thigh, hip or glutes are stretching out but staying tight? Consider your hydration levels. When you are hydrated, so are you muscles, making them ready and willing to be stretched. Also, there’s no magic time frame so stay in this stretch several minutes if you can and/or come back to it later to work on it again.
Looking for more stretches to increase your flexibility, prevent injury and move more easily?  Schedule your free 90 minute consultation.
Addie Kelzer is a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. She believes that by making fitness and good food practical, her clients will hold the power to positively change their health and the health of those closest to them.