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4 Best Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL) Stretches: How To & Videos

You just came back from a long run. 

And you’ve got a sickening feeling that the pain you’re feeling in your hips or knees isn’t just soreness from your workout. 

What do you do? 

OR maybe you were sitting for a long time at the office, and you suddenly have an aching pain running down your thigh. 

So, you limp out to your car and wonder: What’s your next step?

If pain in your: 

- Outer Hip

- Thigh

- OR knee

…has you suspicious of a muscle injury, your tensor fasciae latae (or TFL for short) could be the culprit

The tensor fasciae latae stretches in this article will provide you with a way to get quick relief from potential TFL pain

The tensor fasciae latae is a hip flexor muscle beginning at the top of your outer thigh in a thick bulb shape–then running down to the outer side of your thigh in a long tendon called the IT band

Frustratingly enough, tensor fasciae latae agitation can be caused by: 

1) running too much


2) sitting too much 

So, whether you fall into either of these camps, read on to hear the 4 best tensor fasciae latae stretches for quick pain relief! 


4 Best Tensor Fasciae Latae Stretches: How To

Before we dive in to these best tensor fasciae latae stretches and how to do them, it’s important to say that before you ever stretch a muscle, you want to massage it

So when you’re done checking out these tensor fasciae latae stretch how to’s, be sure to also take a look at the two TFL massages I recommend later in this article. 

Tensor Fasciae Latae Stretch #1: Back and Over Stretch 

tensor fasciae latae stretch: back and over stretch

The natural motion of the tensor fasciae latae is to bring the leg up and also out to the side. So, a natural way to counter this motion and lengthen the muscle in a great tensor fasciae latae stretch is to bring your leg back and over

Here’s how to do this tensor fasciae latae stretch:

1) For this stretch, you may want a chair or something to balance yourself. 

2) Bend your right knee in front of you, placing your right foot flat on the floor. 

3) Next, bring your left leg straight back. 

4) Then, position this leg over to the right just slightly, turning your left foot in, so it faces the right side of your body. This’ll give you a great tensor fasciae latae stretch! 

5) Repeat on the other side. 

Tensor Fasciae Latae Stretch #2: Seated Tensor Fasciae Latae Stretch

1) Sit down on a yoga mat with your feet straight out in front of you. 

2) Now, bend your right knee, bringing this leg up. 

3) At the same time, grab this knee with your left hand, pulling the leg over to the left side, and placing your right foot flat on the ground–just on the outside of your left hip. 

4) Hold this stretch for 15-20 seconds. 

5) Switch sides, and repeat. 

Tensor Fasciae Latae Stretch #3: Standing Tensor Fasciae Latae Stretch

1) For this tensor fasciae latae stretch, you’ll be standing. 

2) Bring your left leg behind you. Then, cross it behind your right leg. 

3) Placing your right hand on your hip, raise up your left arm above your head–reaching over to the right side. 

4) Hold this stretch for 15-20 seconds. 

5)Then, repeat on the other side. 

Tensor Fasciae Latae Stretch #4: Iron Cross Stretch

1) Lie down on your back on a yoga mat. 

2) Grab your right leg with your left arm. 

3) Now, bring your right knee across your body and down toward the floor on your left side. 

4) Hold for 15-20 seconds. 

5) Then, repeat on the other side. 


Tensor Fasciae Latae Stretch Videos

We have some of the best resources on muscle massage, stretches, and strengthening–especially for muscles that tend to cause pain when agitated like the TFL. 

Below, check out our tensor fasciae latae stretch videos and massage videos. All of these tensor fasciae latae videos are helpful if you are more visual and want some extra guidance with your tensor fasciae latae stretches and massages. 

Tensor Fasciae Latae Stretch Videos:


“IT Band Release & Stretch”

“TFL Muscle Release 2 Ways For Quick Hip Pain Relief”

“Hip Pain When Running? Try THIS”


Tensor Fasciae Latae Massage 

All of those tensor fasciae latae stretches are amazingly effective, but BEFORE you even get to tensor fasciae latae stretches, you’ll need to loosen your TFL muscle with tensor fasciae latae massage! 

Think of it like this: If you have a bungee cord, and it somehow accidentally freezes, you can't stretch it yet. First, you need to warm it up. 

Then, it’ll be ready to stretch out. 

It’s the same thing when it comes to tensor fasciae latae stretches. You can’t stretch your TFL before the muscle warms up, and this is where TFL massage comes in clutch! 

2 Best Tensor Fasciae Latae Massages 

If you want quick relief from tensor fasciae latae pain, start with these two best at-home massages. For both of these massages, you can perform them from the comfort of your own home. 

Tensor Fasciae Latae Massage #1: Foam Roller

tensor fasciae latae massage: foam roller

First, look for a foam roller with some texture to it–as opposed to one with a simple, flat surface. This best mimics the hands of a massage therapist. 

1) Lie down on your side on a yoga mat. 

2) Place the foam roller in a perpendicular position to your body–just under your TFL. 

3) Bend your non-working knee, bringing this leg out to the side of your body. This helps put the pressure on the working side. 

4) Now, roll your TFL back and forth on the foam roller, being sure to relax the muscle throughout the motion. 

5) Finally, repeat on the other side. 

Tensor Fasciae Latae Massage #2: The QL Claw

While finding a textured foam roller can help the foam roller itself dig deeper into your TFL, there is a better tool out there for tensor fasciae latae massage. 

The QL Claw is a massage device that’s purposefully designed to provide deep massage to hard-to-get muscles. 

It has a trigger point on one side of it that literally mimics the knuckle of a massage therapist, so it reeeally digs in to give you the best at-home tensor fasciae latae massage. 

Here’s how you use it: 

1) Lie down on your stomach on a yoga mat. 

2) Place the trigger point of the QL Claw RIGHT on the tensor fasciae latae muscle. The rest of the tool will go in toward your stomach. 

3) Now, use the working side elbow to elevate your torso slightly, turning your body in toward the TFL itself. You’ll feel the trigger point of the QL Claw sink right into the muscle when you do this! 

4) To help put pressure on the tensor fasciae latae, bend the knee of your opposite leg, keeping the leg close to the ground. 

5) Now, floss back and forth–massaging the tensor fasciae latae muscle until it feels relaxed and tender. 

tensor fasciae latae massage: QL Claw


tensor fasciae latae massage: QL Claw

For more information about the QL Claw and how it provides amazing, at-home massage for lower back muscles, CLICK HERE


All About the Tensor Fasciae Latae! 

As I mentioned earlier, you can find your tensor fasciae latae right around the top of your thigh–but let’s get more specific. 

TFL Muscle

WHERE is the Tensor Fasciae Latae? 

Here’s how to find your TFL in 3 easy steps: 

1) Place your thumb on your outer thigh–below your hip bone. You’ll feel a tough muscle there below your hip bone–that’s your TFL! 

2) Now, lift your opposite foot just slightly off the ground–placing ALL the weight on the leg where you’re feeling the muscle. You should feel the muscle tense up. 

3) Then, bring this foot back to the ground, and shift your weight over to the opposite side. Once the weight has shifted OFF the working leg, you should feel the TFL relax and soften. 

What you can’t feel is the IT band, but imagine–from this dense, bulb-like muscle in your outer thigh–a long ligament running down to your knee. This is the IT band. 

Now that you know what the tensor fasciae latae feels like–let’s talk about what it does.

WHAT Does the Tensor Fasciae Latae Do? 

Right now, you may hate your TFL because it’s causing you a world of pain. 

But trust me: When your tensor fasciae latae is working properly, it’s pretty awesome! It helps you perform TONS of regular daily motions. 

And as a bonus, if you’re doing something even minorly athletic, it’s probably making you look like a boss (when it isn’t causing you to limp away from the scene)! 

Here’s what the tensor fasciae latae does: 

1) Hip Flexion & Abduction: Hip flexion means any time you bring your thigh a little closer to your torso. Hip abduction means bringing your leg out to the side of your body. What does this look like in real life? 

- walking 

- running 

- kicking 

- and HIGH KNEES (for all you cardio-holics out there!) 

The hip flexion function of the tensor fasciae latae kicks in with motions as simple as walking to the kitchen–AND it helps you in athletic activities like kicking a soccer ball. 

So with this said, it makes sense to hear that BOTH runners and soccer players tend to suffer from tensor fasciae latae muscle pain and benefit HUGELY from tensor fasciae latae stretches and massages. 

2) Stabilization: The next function of the tensor fasciae latae is stabilization–especially when you’re standing on just one leg. 

Trying to master tree pose in yoga? 

While you’re working on your balance during moves just like this, your TFL is helping you out–kicking in to support you as you balance on one leg!

So all of that’s great to hear, but what happens when the tensor fasciae latae poops out? 

WHAT CAUSES Tensor Fasciae Latae Muscle Pain?

tensor fasciae latae pain pattern

Your tensor fasciae latae is a little high maintenance in the sense that it doesn’t like it when you’re TOO ACTIVE. 

Oh, and also…it doesn’t like it when you’re too INACTIVE. 

So, when you find the right balance between activity and inactivity, your TFL is happy as a clam! 

Push it too far in either direction, and it might start to speak out in the form of outer thigh, hip, and knee pain. 

1) Too MUCH Physical Activity: This muscle will tighten when overworked, which is why people often feel tensor fasciae latae pain after running for too long–or playing a sport that causes you to run and kick things (aka soccer). 

If you feel tensor fasciae latae trigger points flaring up after physical activity, you may need to slow your roll and consider adding in some tensor fasciae latae stretches and massage. 

It doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t continue being active. But slowing down and listening to your body and its needs HAS to take priority over just plowing through. 

2) Too LITTLE Physical Activity: On the other hand, the TFL tends to shorten when it is in a sitting position for too long. This is honestly so hard to avoid in today’s culture–where so many jobs require us to sit and stare at a computer for hours on end. 

Countering this with physical activity (not too much obviously!) can help. Also, tensor fasciae latae stretching and massaging can help with a shortened TFL as well. 

To learn more about your TFL, CLICK HERE!

More TFL Resources

You can also check out some of these similar blog posts!

“Why Does My Hip Hurt When I Run?”

“Hip Flexor Exercises - The Secret To A Strong Midsection”

“Can Hip Flexors Cause Back Pain? HECK YES: Here’s Why!”

Tensor Fasciae Latae Stretch FAQ

How do you loosen tight tensor fasciae latae?

To loosen a tight tensor fasciae latae, first try a tensor fasciae latae massage to loosen the muscles. Then, try tensor fasciae latae stretches to lengthen the muscles. Check out the tensor fasciae latae stretches and massages in this article for details! 

What causes tight tensor fasciae latae?

Tight tensor fasciae latae muscles are caused by either too much physical activity or sitting too much. It’s a fine balance when it comes to TFL health. 

How do I release my TFL?

To release your tensor fasciae latae, always start with massage! I recommend a foam roller or the QL Claw to get the best at-home TFL massage! 

What does a tight TFL feel like?

A tight TFL often shows up in the form of aching pain in the outer thigh, hip, and knee. Tensor fasciae latae stretching and massaging is a helpful remedy. 

Is your TFL your hip flexor?

Yes, your TFL is a hip flexor muscle–located beneath your hip bone on your outer thigh. It starts as a thick bulb-like muscle, and then it runs down to your knee in a long ligament called the IT band. 

How do you massage a TFL?

It’s easy to massage a TFL. Use a foam roller or a QL Claw, and massage it over your TFL muscle. 




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

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