Meralgia paresthetica is a condition marked by pain, tingling or numbness in the front and outer thigh. It occurs when a sensory nerve that runs along the thigh muscles becomes constricted. Tight clothing, restrictive seat belts, pregnancy and direct trauma to the thigh or hip are among meralgia paresthetica's many potential causes. A few key exercises can reduce and eventually prevent symptoms.
Reducing hip tightness is one way to alleviate the symptoms of meralgia paresthetica by improving flexibility and building strength. Bridging consists of lying flat on the floor and lifting your bottom up while tightening your gluteal muscles. Hip extensions involve lying on your belly and lifting your leg up while tightening the gluteals. Standing hip abduction requires standing upright while slowly lifting each leg to one side, keeping the knee straight. Such exercises should not cause any thigh pain.
The quadriceps muscles are located next to the sensory nerve involved in meralgia paresthetica. Stretching these muscles can improve flexibility and strength in the upper thigh. A traditional quad stretch involves pulling the heel of your foot back toward your buttocks while standing, stretching the length of the upper thigh. Again, stretching should cease if pain occurs.
Lunges strengthen both the hips and quadriceps muscles to help prevent thigh pain. These start by standing upright and stepping forward with one foot, lowering the body until the opposite knee touches the ground at a right angle. The exercise then can either be reversed or proceed forward by stepping with the opposite leg.
More advanced outer thigh exercises can incorporate resistance bands to improve flexibility and strength. A resistance band is looped around the ankle and tied at the other end to a solid, immovable object. A variety of exercises can then be accomplished, including extending the hip backward, outward and forward. These should only be conducted when outer thigh pain is completely gone.
While exercises are important to recovery, the most immediate response to meralgia paresthetica should be rest. Athletes might try cross-training as a way to maintain fitness without aggravating the condition. Weight loss, wearing loosely fitting clothes, and in some cases getting a corticosteroid injection will also help relieve symptoms.