Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL) Pain Relief in 6 Ways

The tensor fasciae latae (TFL), also called tensor fasciae femoris, is one of the 10 muscles of the gluteal region, arising from the outer lip of the iliac crest, the anterior superior iliac spine, and the deep fascia lata, on the outside of the hip. As a small muscle, it lies between the two layers of fascia lata in the proximal third of the thigh and via the iliotibial band that inserts onto the lateral tibial condyle. The TFL functions to flex the thigh and rotate it slightly medially.

With your thumbs on the hipbones and fingers behind, you can feel with both thumbs your pelvic bones. You will feel your TFL when pressing your thumbs a bit backwards behind the pelvis. This muscle stabilizes the pelvis and hip.

Symptoms Associated with Tensor Fasciae Latae Pain

Tensor fasciae latae strain pain has been experienced by many runners. It usually starts with pain at the runner’s outer knee known as the IT band disorder at the outer hip and this is not a correct explanation. The TFL abnormal functioning can influence the progress of IT band problems and the pain always takes place at the area of the knee.

When running, the TFL is used significantly because of the flexion and abduction of the muscles used providing pelvic stability with dominate one-sided bearing of weight. Should the gluteus medius abductor and stabilizer not be working in tandem with adjoining muscles, it can lead to the muscles being overstressed. This can result in trigger points that are over irritated spots in the fascia surrounded by skeletal muscle.

  • Outer hip pain—most do not say “TFL pain”
  • Referral pain down the outside of the thigh
  • Pain when laying down on the tender side
  • Weight bearing on one side is more painful
  • Pain upon fast walking
  • Pain when standing and keeping your pelvis level

6 Reliefs for Tensor Fasciae Latae Pain

Your primary goal is to discontinue any activities that exacerbate your pain condition, including running. Stop any other activities that worsen your tenderness. A pillow between your knees at night might alleviate your pain when you sleep on the opposite side to prevent muscle extending that can potentially irritate trigger points.

1. TFL Stretching

Stretching and trigger point treatment is good for alleviating pain. Put your good hip in the opposing direction of the functionality of the TFL to stretch. This will utilize extension, lateral abduction, and lateral rotation.Stand with the distressed leg crossed behind the good leg. Rotate externally (outward). To increase hip adduction, lean over to the opposing leg.

2. TFL Trigger Pointing

Get in to see a sports massage therapist trained and licensed in this specific treatment. Successful results can be gained by laying the bad side on a massage, squash, or tennis ball under the TFL moving the ball until your painful and sensitive spot is apparent. If you have referral pain, this could send pain down your leg.Maintain the pressure of the ball for 10 to 15 seconds until tenderness subsides somewhat and do this in the painful areas directing pressure to those muscles. It is recommended that you only do this two times in the beginning every 2 to 3 days. After this type of therapy, you might be slightly sensitive and sore for a day or two—and then you may not be sore.

3. TFL Strengthening

It is critically important to correct stress at the TFL and any muscle imbalances in the hip region. It is a beneficial practice to strengthen the opposite abductor muscles in the hip to reduce TFL involvement. To do this, begin with your hip flexed and in a medially rotated attitude. Sidelying clam shell is an exercise commonly used in a clinic setting for your tensor fasciae latae pain.


  • Lay on your good side. Be sure your position is the top hip over the bottom hip without being rotated backward or forward. Keep knees bent at a right angle with your feet together.
  • Your feet must be kept in contact with one another. Raise the top knee up off the bottom knee as far as it will go comfortably.
  • Do not roll your hips backward to gain more hip movement.
  • Be sure your lower back and pelvis are unmoving for this procedure.
  • Slowly lower the knee down. Rest a bit and duplicate what you just did possibly raising higher this time.

Anterior pelvis tilt is another hip problem that must be corrected. This condition results in gluteus maximus inhibition caused by an anterior pelvis tilt resulting from tight hip flexors. Tweaking of these flexors will greatly increase hip performance.

4. Squats Exercise

For strengthening your tensor fasciae latae muscle, squats are a successful and valuable exercise for increasing your hip rotation and flexion. Squats include front, full, and hack (box). The straightforward front squat is a beginner’s choice. Do this with or without weights.

Stand with your feet straight ahead separated by your shoulder distance. Pull in your abdominal muscles keeping your back straight. Push your butt out, and bend your knees lowing yourself with your thighs parallel to the floor. Push upward from your heels and stand straight. Duplicate this squat 5 to 10 times pursuant to your physical therapist’s instructions.

5. Leg Lift Lying Down Exercise

Lay on a hard bed, floor, or exercise table to do a leg lift for your tensor fasciae latae muscle. With your arm holding your head, lie down on your right side. You can use a toe or light ankle weight around your opposite foot arch in the middle. By lifting your left leg to hip level, you can move it forward 45 degrees from your upper body. Maintaining the stability of your hips, lift your leg about a foot off the surface you are on. Put your foot back to the level of your hip to be in alignment with your body, subsequently lowering it to where you started. Do this sequence 4 to 5 times then try the other leg.

6. Hip Abductors Exercise

Strengthen your hip muscles by exercising the tensor fasciae latae pain away to improve your flexibility and range of motion. This can be accomplished by doing thigh abductions guided by your therapist. Most gyms and outpatient centers for physical therapy offer the necessary equipment for thigh abduction.

While sitting in the chair, place the outer surface of your knees next to the pads. Starting with light weights spread your knees apart pushing outward against the machine’s resistance. Then bring your knees together slowly. Continue the series 10 to 20 times as your physical therapist directs.

For a clearer idea of how to stretch your TFL appropriately, watch this video: 

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