Tensor Fasciae Latae Muscle - Function


The tensor fasciæ latæ is a tensor of the fascia lata; continuing its action, the oblique direction of its fibers enables it to stabilize the knee in extension (assists Gluteus Maximus during knee extension). The fascia latae is a fibrous sheath that encircles the thigh like a subcutaneous stocking and tightly binds its muscles. On the lateral surface, it combines with the tendons of the gluteus maximus and tensor fasciae latae to form the iliotibial band, which extends from the iliac crest to the lateral condyle of the tibia.

In the erect posture, acting from below, it will serve to steady the pelvis upon the head of the femur; and by means of the iliotibial band it steadies the condyles of the femur on the articular surfaces of the tibia, and assists the Glutæus maximus in supporting the knee in a position of extension.

The basic functional movement of tensor fascia latae is walking. The tensor fascia lata is heavily utilized in horse riding, hurdling and water skiing. Some problems that arise when this muscle is tight or shortened are pelvic imbalances that lead to pain in hips, as well as pain in the lower back and lateral area of knees.

Because of its insertion point on the lateral condyle of the tibia, it also aids in the lateral rotation of the tibia. This lateral rotation may be initiated in conjunction with hip abduction and medial rotation of the femur while kicking a soccer ball. The tensor fasciae latae works in synergy with the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus muscles to abduct and medially rotate the femur.

The TFL is a hip abductor muscle. To stretch the tensor fascia latae, the knee may be brought medially across your body (adducted). If one leans against a wall with crossed legs (externally/laterally rotated hips) and pushes the pelvis away from the wall (leaning the upper body towards it) sidebending the lumbar spine (i.e.: curving the spine to the side) should be avoided as it stretches the lumbar region rather than the tensor fascia latae and other muscles which cross the hip rather than the spine.

Common TFL injuries are diagnosed by having the patient stand with the opposite leg raised. Since the TFL engages to maintain balance in this position, it is a way to isolate the source of any hip/knee pain. If there is pain near the hip and knee and difficulty maintaining balance while the opposite leg is raised, it usually indicates a TFL strain.

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