Skip to content

Tensor Fasciae Latae Pain: What It Feels Like & How To Fix It

The best way to treat Tensor Fasciae Latae pain is with deep tissue massage. Scroll down to "Tensor Fasciae Latae Pain Relief" for the answer, or read through for context.

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


Tensor Fasciae Latae Pain
Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL) Muscle

Tensor Fasciae Latae Pain: 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, Tensor Fasciae Latae's function is to bring the leg and knee forward - think kicking straight out in front of you.
Tensor Fasciae Latae Pain
Tensor Fasciae Latae Pain Location
The Tensor Fasciae Latae muscle also helps stabilize the hips and is usually well-developed in runners [2]. You can feel the Tensor Fasciae Latae function while it is active during walking/running. When you are on one leg in the gait cycle, your TFL engages to keep you balanced upright [1].


Tensor Fasciae Latae Pain: Trigger Point Symptoms

Tensor Fascia Latae pain is often caused by trigger points and constant muscle tension. Trigger points are taut, angry bands of muscle that can strain muscles and cause a ton of pain in the body.

Tensor Fasciae Latae Pain Chart

Tensor Fasciae Latae Referred Pain Pattern [1]

Tensor Fasciae Latae Pain From Sitting

Folks with Tensor Fasciae Latae trigger points or tightness tend to have issues with sitting too long. After sitting for a long period, people with TFL symptoms may report pain in the upper outer thigh area - as shown in the image above [1].

Tensor Fasciae Latae Pain From Running

Tensor Fasciae Latae 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 Pain Symptoms

Tensor Fasciae Latae pain and 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, so hip extension (pushing the hips forward) can be straining.

Alleviating Tensor Fasciae Latae 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 Pain Pattern [2]: The left portion of the image is the TFL muscle and its trigger point locations. The right portion contains the referred Tensor Fasciae Latae pain pattern (sketched with the diagonal lines) and the same trigger point locations


Tensor Fasciae Latae Pain Relief:

Tensor Fasciae Latae pain and trigger points can be resolved by the hands of a professional, 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 (see here for trying your luck with foam rolling TFL).

Tensor Fasciae Latae Pain Relief

Where To Massage Tensor Fasciae Latae

Tensor Fasciae Latae Muscle - QL Claw

Tensor Fasciae Latae Muscle [1]


TFL Pain Relief Using QL Claw

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 lower back pain specific muscles, QL Claw is great at massaging the TFL thoroughly. Own your muscle pain and buy a QL Claw today!





Tensor Fasciae Latae Pain FAQ:

What causes Tensor Fasciae Latae pain?

Overuse via activities like running, soccer, and basketball most commonly creates Tensor Fasciae Latae pain. However, excessive sitting can create TFL pain symptoms, or make overuse TFL pain worse.

How to treat Tensor Fasciae Latae pain:

To fix Tensor Fasciae Latae pain, first apply massage to the TFL muscle (see graphic above) to break up rigid muscle and trigger points. Next, stretch the TFL with a movement like the couch stretch, spiderman, or upward dog to further relief.

Massage can be done at home with a tool like QL Claw, or by a trained professional physical or massage therapist.

What if my Tensor Fasciae Latae pain doesn't go away?

If you have tried massage and stretching techniques on your own unsuccessfuly, it may be time to visit a professional (Also check out our page on tensor fasciae latae stretch!). Physical and massage therapists may be able to treat your TFL symptoms better, or diagnose a different muscle that may be at play.

Another possibility of TFL pain not going away is a muscle strain. Muscle strains are more acute and severe than trigger points, and require time and rest to heal. Most muscle strains recover in 2-3 weeks, and there is unfortunately not much you can do in the meantime.


More TFL Pain FAQ (updated 1/23/24):

TFL Muscle Pain:

TFL muscle pain can either be a strain, or a tightness/tension/trigger point problem. For the former case, it often just takes time (~2 weeks). For the latter case, read the article above.

TFL Pain Treatment:

Rest and deep tissue massage to the TFL muscle.

Sleeping with TFL Pain:

Since they are the same muscle, this is the same answer as sleeping with IT Band pain - on the back with knees elevated seems to be most comfortable.

Exercises For TFL Pain:

There is not a lot of workout-exercises that will help TFL pain - movement is always great, but you can't run or lift your way out of a TFL strain or tightness problem.

Massaging, icing, and stretching are going to be the best exercises for TFL pain.




[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.

Leave a comment

Subscribe to our newsletter

Receive emails every few days with back pain relief tips, testimonials, and resources