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Tensor Fasciae Latae Muscle and Iliotibial Band: Hip and Thigh Pain

Pain deep in the hip going down the outside of the leg into the knee as well as difficulty standing from sitting can be signs of TFL and IT band dysfunction.

What are the symptoms and pain associated with the tensor fasciae latae muscle and iliotibial band?

  • Pain deep in the hip going down the outside of the thigh
  • Pain at the front of the hip joint
  • Discomfort sitting
  • When standing from a sitting position you tend to stand-up leaning forward at the waist with your knees bent. Straightening to a full standing position is slow and painful with a feeling of stiffness
  • While standing knees and hips tend to remain flexed (bent)
  • Pain intensives when foot hits the ground while walking or running

Iliotibial Band Syndrome

ITBS is the  most common pain syndromes in runners, weight lifters, dancers, tennis players and basketball players. Pain or a stinging burning sensation is felt on the outside of the thigh down to the lower knee. Pain is more pronounced when the foot hits the ground while walking or running.

Where is the tensor fasciae latae muscle and iliotibial band?

The tensor fasciae latae attaches at the top of the side of the hip bone (iliac crest and iliac spine, traveling down the side of the hip into the iliotibial band which runs down the side of the thigh connecting to the outside of the shin bone (tibia).

What movements does the tensor fasciae latae muscle and iliotibial band control?

  • Assists with twisting the thigh toward the body (TFL anterior fibers)
  • Assists with straightening the knee
  • Assists with lifting the thigh to the side away from the body

Activities that cause tensor fasciae latae muscle and iliotibial band pain and symptoms:

  • Too much walking when not in shape
  • Running
  • Climbing
  • Cycling
  • Dancing
  • Court sports (tennis, basketball, volleyball)

tensor fasciae latae muscle and iliotibial band origin, insertion, action

The TFL Muscle (red) and the IT Band (orange) twist the thigh toward the body, lift the thigh, and move the thigh forward.

Interesting facts about the tensor fasciae latae muscle and iliotibial band:

  • Pain from trigger points in the tensor fasciae latae muscle is often diagnosed as bursitis of the hip or thinning of the hip cartilage.

Clinical diagnoses to which the tensor fasciae latae muscle and iliotibial band symptoms may contribute:

  • Trochanteric bursitis
  • Iliotibial tract friction syndrome
  • Sacroilitis

Other muscles that should be considered and examined in conjunction with the tensor fasciae latae muscle and iliotibial band:

Satellite trigger points associated with the tensor fasciae latae muscle and iliotibial band:

  • Gluteus minimus
  • Rectus femoris
  • Iliopsoas
  • Sartorius
  • Quadratus lumborum

For detailed anatomy information: Iliotibial Band and Tensor Fasciae Latae Anatomy

Products To Help TFL Muscle and IT Band Pain

Cold Therapy Gel For TFL Muscle and IT Band Muscle Injury and Pain

Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel is an excellent pain relieving gel and I recommend it for those who have sudden onset muscle pain or recent injuries. It is better to use than warm therapy gels and creams for muscle pain caused by inflammation as it cools the area much like ice. A recent study showed that Biofreeze decreased pain 2 times more than ice and the pain relief lasts 9 – 10 longer. If your pain is from a recent injury I would recommend Biofreeze.

Warm Therapy Gel for Upper Leg Muscle Pain

Sombra Warm Therapy Pain Relieving Gel is a pain relieving gel that is highly recommended. It provides warmth without burning heat and is great for relieving pain. Applying Sombra to the area around the pectineus muscle can relax the muscle and reduce pain and tightness. I recommend Sombra for chronic pain and chronically sore tight muscles.

Tensor Fasciae Latae and Iliotibial Band Braces and Supports

Wrap Around Support For TFL Muscle Pain

The Bodyprox Groin Support can help provide compression and support to a pulled or strained tensor fasciae latae muscle. Adjustable Velcro closure can be adjusted for a snug fit. The wrap is made to fit high up on the thigh and around the hip with an abdomen band that will hold the wrap in place. The brace is pliable neoprene which makes it comfortable to wear. The neoprene radiates your body heat back into the muscles providing relief to sore achy muscles.

Compression Leggings for TFL Muscle and IT Band Support

Compression wear is not just preventative wear for exercise. Compression wear can also aid in muscle injury support and reduce swelling during recovery time. If you are considering compression wear look for graduated compression. Graduated compression provides tight compression at the lower end of your limb and gradually decreases compressive force toward the top of the limb. This is important for circulation and inflammation reduction. To support the iliotibial band it is important that you use leggings that go down past the knee so you treat the full length of the tendon as well ad the TFL muscle. Compression leggings for men as well compression leggings for women come in all sizes, have a choice of colors and are available in various price points. The leggings can be worn alone or under pants.

Men's Leggings
Women's Leggings

Rolling Tool For IT Band

I recommend the The Tiger Tail 18" Roller to use on both upper and lower leg muscles to help relieve tension and pain. I like the Tiger Tail for its ease of use and because it does not strain the wrists and hands. You do not have to contort into different positions, get on the floor or up against the wall to use this foam roller, simply roll it up or down the muscle. The 18" is a good size to use on leg muscles as well as other muscles. This roller is also recommended by physical therapists, athletic trainers and doctors for self-treatment of muscles in between appointments. To use the Tiger Tail on the IT Band start on the side of the hip, and roll down the side of the thigh down past the knee. (Start off gently, this area can be very tender).  Start with light strokes for a minute or two and build into more pressure and more time. Do not overdo as you can irritate the muscles!

Tiger Roller

Self Treatment For Tensor Fasciae Latae Muscle and Iliotibial Band Pain

Do you know that small knots and other dysfunction in the tensor fasciae Latae muscle can contribute to deep aching hip pain as well as pain in the side of the thigh going into the knee?

If you have unresolved pain  I  recommend that you purchase Claire Davies The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. Mr. Davies explains the trigger point phenomenon and muscle pain in everyday language.  But what makes this book worth its weight in gold are the individual muscle trigger point treatments that Davies has compiled. His diagrams and step by step instructions help you locate which muscles are contributing to your pain,  how to find the trigger point and treat it.  It takes time and practice to master finding trigger points, but once you learn you have a tool and method to help relieve muscle pain throughout the body.  If you have deep aching hip pain the extends down the side of the thigh you may want to learn about the trigger points in the TFL muscle as well as other thigh and hip muscles to help you resolve your pain. This book is a must-have for anyone interested in finding the cause and treating muscle pain.