Tensor Fascia Latae and Iliotibial Band: A fancy coffee or a muscle in your hip?
The tensor facia latae muscle (TFL) is a muscle of the thigh that helps to stabilise the hip and knee. It’s located on the outside of the hip and runs from the pelvis to the iliotibial band (ITB) a thick band of connective tissue that runs down the outside of your leg to the knee.
The TFL has two main functions, tensing the ITB and moving the hip joint, it is one of the hip flexor muscles. Tensing the ITB the TFL muscle helps to support the knee when it is straight to prevent it
from buckling or collapsing inwards.
The TFL also helps to balance the pelvis when standing, walking, and running. The muscle does this by moving in different ways depending on the position of the leg. Combined with the other muscles
of the hip and thigh, including the gluteal muscles and the sartorius they all coordinate to move and stabilse the lower limb depending on the position of the leg.
What are some common problems with the Tensor Fascia Latae muscle?
Hip flexor pain can be quite debilitating and often leads a patient to think they have a problem that requires surgery. Indeed, this small but strong muscle can be very painful when inflamed or gets too tight and causes imbalance.
You may have heard of:
- Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS):
This is a condition where the long ITB band between the hip and knee becomes irritated and inflamed, causing tenderness on the outside of the knee. It’s often related to overuse, such as running, cycling, and hiking, especially on uneven or downhill surfaces. The TFL muscle contributes to the pain by tensing the ITB too tightly and moving the hip in a way that causes friction between the ITB and knee.
- Greater trochanteric pain syndrome (GTPS):
This is a condition where the bursa, a fluid-filled sac that cushions the joint becomes inflamed and painful on the outside of the hip. This can often be caused by trauma, a fall on the hip, or repetitive stress like running or walking.
- Hip flexor strain:
This is where the muscles that flex the hip, become overstretched or torn, causing pain and stiffness in the front of the hip. It is often caused by sudden or forceful movements, such as sprinting, kicking or jumping. The TFL can be inflamed in a hip flexor strain if it is overworked or contracts too quickly or forcefully.
- Low back pain:
The low back relies on the hips performing in a balanced and natural way on both sides. If there is some over-tightness or injury to the TFL and hip flexors, the pelvis and lower back can become imbalanced and cause pain and undue pressure and stress to the surrounding tissues even affecting the discs in the back making them susceptible to a slipped disc, or sciatica.
The hip flexors and especially the Tensor Fascia Latae are important muscles for your hip, knees, and lower back. If you’re experiencing any pain in the areas, the team at Oakfield Chiropractic is trained to identify and solve the problem for you. Book in today!