Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL) has been a common problem in the clinic this week. I have had two cyclists that have stepped up their kilometers now the weather has warmed up. The increase has resulted in some tightness through the front of the hip, including the TFL. Not quite resulting in ITB friction syndrome but a possibility if left untreated. There has been a mix of techniques used to help these clients, massage, dry needling, stretching and strengthening. After 1-2 sessions and some education on self management, they are back riding pain free.
Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL)
The tensor fasciae latae is a muscle that starts at the anterior iliac crest and joins onto the lateral condyle of the tibia via the iliotibial band (as seen in the picture above). The type of actions that it helps with is abduction and flexion of the thigh at the hip joint. It is innervated from the L4, L5, and S1 area of the spine. Tightness in this muscle can have an affect on the iliotibial band (ITB). Eventually causing Ilitibial Band Friction Syndrome (pain on the outside of the knee 10mins into exercise). The type of people that are more susceptible to TFL overuse problems are runners, cyclists, endurance athletes and anyone flexing at the hip a lot.
Use of a spikey massage ball to target the TFL is a great way to self manage tightness and give you some relief. You can perform this self massage lying face down or standing if your muscle is too sensitive. Look at the below pictures on how to do it.
Lying on your side with one leg on top of the other. Then lifting your top leg away from the bottom one with a straight knee. Then slowly lowering your leg down back to where it was. Tying a theraband around each ankle can make this a little more challenging.
The second stance in the below picture gives you an idea of how to perform this stretch. Stand about 50cm away from a wall with your left side to it. Put your left hand on the wall to balance you. Cross your left foot behind you right and lean your left hip into the wall. You should then feel a stretch through your TFL and down your ITB. Swap to your right to stretch the other side.
This information in this blog post is a guide only. Always consult a health professional for proper assessment and treatment that is specific to your needs.