How to Do the Butterfly Stretch

Increase groin and inner thigh flexibility with this simple stretch

woman doing groin stretch
Sporrer/Rupp Cultura/Getty Images

The seated groin and inner thigh stretch, sometimes called the butterfly stretch, does as its name implies: stretches the groin and inner thigh. It's a great stretch for athletes who play field or court sports, runners, and anyone who has tight hips or a history of groin injuries.

Use this stretch after a thorough warm up to avoid overstretching a cold muscle. Great ways to warm up include jumping jacks, skipping, side-stepping, running in place, or any dynamic movements that mimic whatever sport you do.

But since this stretch is done with the lower half of your body, it's best to choose movements that will make the muscles in the groin and inner thigh areas warm and pliable.

How to Do the Seated Groin and Inner Thigh Stretch

  1. Sit down on the floor or ground with your legs in front of you.
  2. Reach forward and grab your right foot. It is okay to bend your knee to help your hand and foot connect. Gently pull your right foot up towards your groin bending until it is at a comfortable spot and the sole of the foot is facing your left thigh.
  3. Bend your left knee to bring your left foot toward your groin so that its sole touches the sole of your right foot.
  4. Hold your feet with your hands and rest your elbows on your knees.
  5. While keeping your back straight (no slouching), allow your knees to fall towards the ground. You can apply gentle pressure on the inner thigh by pressing gently on the knees with the elbows. You should feel gentle pulling and tension in the groin.

    Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. Release and repeat three times.

    If You Need to Increase the Stretch

    The first thing you can do to get more of a stretch from the butterfly is to bring the feet closer in towards your groin.

    As you become more flexible, you can get a deeper stretch of the hips and back by leaning forward at the waist.

    Exhale and lean forward, keep your back flat and allow your chest to fall as close to the floor as possible.

    Tips to insure proper form

    Just as you can get injured doing sports and activities, you can also hurt yourself while stretching if certain precautions are not taken. One that has already been mentioned is: Warm-up by doing some sort of dynamic activity for at least 5 minutes. Others include:

    Do not bounce. As this can tug on tendons and muscle insertion points instead of what you want to do, which is lengthen the muscle. In addition, bouncing can create small tears in the muscle, and as they heal scar tissue forms which can make the muscle more stiff and less flexible. Basically, bouncing can leads to hypermobile joints and muscle imbalances. Instead, use slow, smooth movements when performing your stretch.

    Do not press down with great force. Just like bouncing, this can put unwanted pressure on the tendons, ligaments, and insertion points; thus making you more prone to injury or overstretching.

    Do not hold your breathe while stretching. If we have learned anything from yoga, the breath can help you stretch deeper. Inhale as you rest and exhale as you initially do the work.

    Continue Reading