Spotlight on: Tensor Fasciae Latae

By Marcie Bower, Lic.Ac.

This post is copied from our older, original blog. Original post date 7/31/2015.

The Tensor Fasciae Latae is a small but powerful muscle of the lateral hip. It originates from the side of your pelvis, and inserts itself into the IT Band – a dense band of connective tissue that runs from your hip down your lateral thigh to just below your knee. The Tensor Fasciae Latae (or TFL) is an important hip stabilizer, keeping one foot in front of the other as you walk. It also abducts the hip (lifting your leg out to the side away from your center), as well as flexes the hip and internally rotates the thigh. The TFL works in conjunction with many of the larger muscles of the hip to perform these important tasks.

The TFL is frequently tight in distance runners, skiers, weight lifters, and horseback riders. When problems with the IT Band arise (which can manifest as hip, knee, or lateral leg pain), the TFL is often involved. (Tensor fasciae latae actually translates to “tensor of the lateral fascia,” which makes sense since when the TFL contracts, it tightens the IT Band!)  Since the TFL is also in a shortened position when we sit, it can become tight or damaged by sitting for long hours each day.

Loosening a tight TFL through stretching, sports massage, and acupuncture can help to decrease hip pain and increase range of motion in the hips.