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Outer Thigh Soreness

author image Lisa Mercer
In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.
Outer Thigh Soreness
A knee injury may trigger outer thigh pain. Photo Credit: Maridav/iStock/Getty Images

A number of interrelated factors, including muscular overuse, knee injuries, joint disorders and back injuries, may trigger pain and soreness in the upper, outer portion of one or both of your thighs. Before you attempt to alleviate the muscular soreness, ask a doctor to diagnose the source of the pain.

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Despite evidence to the contrary, the myth of spot reduction exercise still prevails. If you tend toward outer thigh fat accumulation, which is common among women, performing 100 repetitions on the outer thigh machine, or performing hundreds of side leg raises, will not reduce the fat content in your legs. The burning sensation in your outer thighs results from overuse, not the fat-burning process. If you perform more exercises for your outer thighs than you do for your inner thighs, you could trigger a muscular imbalance, which, in turn, may distort your movement mechanics and lead to postural misalignment and chronic pain.


Bursitis is inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs that sit at the upper outer portion of your thigh bone. These sacs, called bursae, cushion the spaces between muscles, tendons, and bones of your hips and thighs. Irritation of these bursae cause inflammation and pain, which may start in your hip and radiate down the outer portion of your thigh. The pain makes it difficult to climb stairs or sleep on the affected side. Abnormal walking and standing patterns may cause bursitis.

Meralgia Paresthetica

Tingling, numbness and burning sensations in one of your outer thighs characterizes a condition called meralgia paresthetica. Compression of the nerve that supplies sensation to your outer thigh causes this condition. Common causes of meralgia paresthetica include weight gain, pregnancy and wearing overly tight clothing says Using a heavy tool belt or wearing a tight girdle makes you more susceptible to this condition, warns the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Treatment usually involves removing the cause of the compression. Your doctor may recommend weight loss, wearing looser clothing or using a tool box in lieu of a tool belt.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Your iliotibial band, called the IT band, runs down the outer part of your thigh, and takes responsibility for pelvic stability. Excessive running or hill climbing may trigger a condition called Iliotibial Band Syndrome. The pain often begins in the lateral side of your knee when your IT band pulls against your outer knee, inflaming the bursa sac located in your knee. The pain may start in your outer knee and radiate upward along your entire outer thigh. Lying sideways on a foam roller and gently rolling back and forth alleviates the pain. Adjusting your training schedule should prevent its recurrence.

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