Tensor Faciae Latae Pain | TFL Muscle and Its Trigger Points

Tensor Fasciae Latae (a.k.a. TFL, IT Band) is the outermost hip flexor of the body. The TFL, like other hip flexors, is a likely candidate to develop trigger points and tightness while sitting. Tensor Fasciae Latae muscle issues often manifest as stiff hips, pain extending the hips, and pain during running (read on for more) [1].

What you'll learn here (click to navigate down the page):

Tensor Fasciae Latae Pain - TFL Muscle Trigger Points
Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL) Muscle
 
TFL Muscle & Function:
 
The TFL muscle consists of a bulb-like muscle on the outer front of the hip and a long ligament, the IT band, that travels down to the knee. Like other hip flexor muscles, TFL's function is to bring the leg and knee forward - think kicking straight out in front of you.
 
The Tensor Fasciae Latae muscle also helps stabilize the hips, and is usually well developed in runners [2]. Tensor Fasciae Latae is active in hip stabilization during walking/running. When you are on one leg in the gait cycle, your TFL contributes to keeping you balanced upright [1].

 

TFL Trigger Point Symptoms:

Patients with Tensor Fasciae Latae trigger points or tightness tend to have issues with sitting too long. After sitting for a long period, patients with TFL symptoms may report pain in the upper outer thigh area - as shown on the right hand side of the image below.

The TFL muscle works hard during running, since it is active during foot-plant to keep the body upright as well as during leg swing to bring the leg forward for the next step. Running can cause pain referred to the upper/outer thigh when TFL trigger points are in the picture. 

Tensor Fasciae Latae tightness can also cause difficulty with hip extension and back extension. TFL is a hip flexor, and a tight hip flexor likes a hip-flexed position. Alleviating TFL trigger points will likely open up hip flexibility, allowing the leg more range of motion behind the body (think of a long running stride - a tight TFL would prevent full extension of the leg and opening of the hip).

Tensor Fasciae Latae Referred Pain Pattern - Davies

Tensor Fasciae Latae Muscle and Referred Pain Pattern [2]: On the left portion of the image are the TFL muscle and the trigger point locations. On the right portion are the referred pain pattern (sketched with the diagonal lines) and trigger point locations.

TFL Muscle Release:

Tensor Fasciae Latae trigger points can be worked by the hands, a lacrosse ball, or the QL Claw device. The TFL muscle is compact, hard, and dense, so working it will require some pressure and time. The hands may tire after 15-30 seconds. I like the QL Claw for this purpose because it stays on the ground and is a nice, therapeutic material for massage.

Tensor Fasciae Latae Muscle - QL Claw

TFL Muscle [1]: The Tensor Fasciae Latae muscle in red. 

The QL Claw product was designed to release the 5 muscles that contribute to low back pain. Although Tensor Fasciae Latae is not one of the 5, QL Claw can massage the TFL as effectively as any muscle. Own your muscles and buy your QL Claw today!

 

SHOP QL CLAW

 

Sources:

[1] Donnelly, Joseph M. Travell, Simons & Simons Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: the Trigger Point Manual. 3rd ed., Wolters Kluwer Health, 2019.

[2] Davies, Clair, and Amber Davies. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. 3rd ed., New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2013.

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