The tensor fasciae latea (TfL) muscle is right on the outside of your hip it belongs to the muscles group of the glute region. it’s not a big muscle it’s a fusiform muscle. This muscle with gluteus Maximus comes together to form an Iliotibial tract which then attaches to the lateral condyle of the tibia.
Iliotibial band – This is 5 cm wide that divides into two layers. One layer is known as superiorly that is attached to the iliac crest and the other layer is known as the deep lamina that’s attached to the capsule of the hip joint.
It is a muscle that may play some role in the dysfunction and pain of the lower limb, spine, and pelvis. Tfl muscle has a very complex anatomical arrangement with an iliotibial band. tensor fasciae latea muscle also plays various function roles like…
- Tfl muscle comes together with gluteus Maximus and contributes to bringing stability in the knee during extension and the partial flexion.
- As tfl muscle is part of the iliotibial tract, it helps with the lateral rotation of the leg.
- Tfl muscle is the prime mover of the hip medial rotation and weak hip abductor.
- Tfl muscle also plays an important role in raising your leg in the front and turning the leg with straight knee.
- It helps in stablizing the pelvis when in single leg stance.
The main cause of Tfl muscle pain is due to compensating for the surrounding weaker muscle and being overused. This is the main cause of Tfl muscle pain because they weren’t designed to take on extra pressure yet they have to because of the weaker muscles that surround them. Tfl muscle gets overused in movements like cycling, swimming, running, or wearing heels too often.
Symptoms of Tfl pain
- When tfl muscles tightens it may cause pain in joints, groins, butt, lower back, and even on the lateral side of the thighs.
- You feel increased pain on the one side when bearing weights on the one side.
- Tfl muscle tightness can cause added tension through the iliotibial tract that increased tension in the iliotibial tract can create pain and irritation on the outer region of the knee.
- Feeling pain when lying on the affected hips.
Knowing the cause of your tfl pain is necessary to develop your treatment procedure. Depending upon the symptom and the pain you feel that will determine the time you require to heal your muscle and what technique/exercises should be used to get the best results.
Problems associated with tfl
When you’re suffering from tfl pain you will also experience other health problems that come with tfl pain such as…
- Knock knee posture
Tfl is an internal rotator of your hip that means it helps with twisting of your thighs inwards from the hip joint, It can become tight and shortened that will lead you to a posture known as ‘Knock knees”. Knock knee is a posture in which one or both of your knees turns inwards while the ankle remains spaced apart. Usually knock knee is a common problem for girls but boys can develop this condition as well.
2. Anterior/lateral pelvic tilt
Just like knock knees, tfl tightness can result in another posture that is the anterior pelvic tilt. The anterior pelvic tilt is the change in the posture that happens when the front of the pelvic starts to rotate forward and the back of the pelvis rises. This happens when the tfl tightness occurs on both sides while you’re standing as your leg work as an anchor.
While the lateral pelvic tilt means the one side of the hip is higher than the other this leads the person to have muscle imbalance throughout the body. This happens when the tfl tightness occurs on one side it will pull one side of your hip down.
3. Hip Osteoarthritis
Some studies have shown that when a person is suffering from tfl muscle pain they are likely to develop a condition known as “Hip Osteoarthritis” on the affected side. When the tfl muscle is in pain then it also places excess pressure and strain on the hip joint. This continuous pressure and strain on the hip joint will lead to early degeneration and inflammation of the hip joints that will lead you to the condition known as Osteoarthritis.
4. Tense and tight muscles
When a muscle is in pain other muscles have to compensate for that muscle and due to that they always stay on alert that has been issued by your brain so your body can perform optimally. If those compensation muscles always remain in high alert, unable to relax and recover they will slowly become tight and shortened. Poor posture and movements will speed up the tfl tightness process.
Tfl muscle pain relief
There are many ways to treat tightness in your tfl muscle like dry needling, soft tissue occupational therapist, heat, or trigger point release but we’re going to look at the stretches/ exercises that can be done at your home that will assist you in relieving pain and it will also speed up your recovery.
These stretches will help you with your tfl muscle pain by encouraging the blood flow to the tissues that will reduce muscle stiffness and doing these stretches will help you improve your body imbalance and it will start to build strength around your hip region that will reduce the amount of stress on your tfl muscle.
While doing these stretches/exercises if you feel mild tension that’s ok but at any point, if you feel the pain you should stop and get in touch with your doctor.
- Side-lying hip abduction
This is one of the best exercises to activate the various muscles situated in the glutes region. You can do side-lying hip abduction with or without a mat, but using a mat may feel a bit more comfortable.
How to do side-lying hip abduction
- Lie down on your side with your legs fully extended, now bend your bottom elbow and stack it under your head like a pillow, that’s your starting position.
- Your feet should be perpendicular to your legs. Top arm fully extended and resting on your thigh.
- Exhale as you raise your top leg to just above the hip joint, once you start to feel your hips and back getting tense stop and hold that position for 2-3 seconds.
- Inhale and start lowering your leg slowly to the starting position, make sure while lowering your leg is fully extended. It should be stacked directly above your lower leg.
- Now repeat the process with the other leg, for each leg do at least 8 to 10 slow repetitions.
2. Leg extension, rotation, and abduction
This is an active stretch that will be working the tfl muscles by lengthening them through their own strength as opposed to gravity. In this stretch, your muscles are activating and you also get neuromuscular reciprocal inhibition (mind-muscle connection) working with you as well.
How to do a leg extension, rotation, and abduction
- Get down on the ground on all four points, that is your palm and knees. This is your starting position.
- Turn your elbows ins, keep your spine in a neutral position, and chin tucked in.
- Now slowly start by fully extending your right leg in the air and then externally rotate your feet and then hip abduction.
- Hold that position for 4 to 5 seconds, and return to starting position.
- Repeat the same process for the other leg and do at least 6 to 8 repetitions for each leg.
3. Hip thrust
The hip thrust is a great way to fully activate your glutes Maximus. The glutes Maximus and tfl muscle both are attached to the top of the IT band so strengthening your glutes could help it to provide additional support to tfl muscle but the hip thrust isn’t directly targeting your tfl muscles so you won’t see positive results quickly.
How to do the hip thrust
- Start by seating down on the floor with your knees bent and feet positioned slightly wider than the hips, keep your toes pointed slightly out.
- The upper back should be resting on the edge of the elevated surface-like bench.
- Place a lightweight on your hips.
- Squeeze your glutes and push your hips towards the ceiling till your hips are in a straight line with your knee and shoulder. This will be your starting position.
- Make sure your knees are bent at 90 degrees when your hip is fully extended.
- Keep your core tight and look at your abs.
- Start lowering the weight till your hips are just a few inches off the ground.
- Now squeeze the glutes and return to the starting position.
- Do at least 10 to 12 repetitions.
You can add these stretches/exercises to your lower body workout routine or you can just do them in the morning or at night before going to the bed. I hope these stretches/exercises will speed up your recovery and strengthen your tfl muscle. If at any point you feel pain while doing these exercises you should stop and get in touch with your doctor.