Tensor Fasciae Latae

Definition of Tensor Fasciae Latae

Tensor Fasciae Latae is a small muscle that belongs to a group of muscles called gluteal.

Anatomy & Muscles

It attaches to a long thick fascia known as iliotibial band. The muscle origin is from the front part of your pelvic iliac crest 1, 2, 3.

Tensor Fasciae Latae

This muscle together with aponeurosis of the gluteus medius and the fibers of the gluteus maximus forms iliotibial tract. The tensor fasciae run sideways over the knee joints and connect with the iliotibial tract.

Structure of Knee Joint

Knee Joint


The main function of this muscle is to protect against tension of iliotibial tract. When you exert high pressure on the femur bone, tensor fasciae latae and hip abductors counteract this pressure on opposite sides hence even out the tension effect.

Other functions include:

  • It helps you to walk by steadying the torso over your thighs. It also helps to balance your body weight and the leg which is nor bearing weight as you walk.
  • It helps to abduct and loosen your hip and rotate your leg inside as the hip is loosened.3


People with Iliotibial Band Syndrome may experience symptoms such as pain on the side of the knee. At first when you develop this condition, you will feel a stinging sensation which is ignored by most people. This can advance into pain when your heel touches the ground and can become more painful making walking or climbing stairs difficult.

Some patients feel a pooping so und at the knee. You can also notice swellings below the knee where it connects to the tibia. This pain can also spread and be felt on external areas of your thighs to the hips.


The following methods can be used to diagnose Iliotibial band syndrome:

Physical examination

Before your doctor conducts the physical examination, you will discuss the symptoms with the doctor so as to provide detailed information about this condition. The physical examination will include the looking for swellings and tenderness in the affected area. Your doctor may look for difference in the leg length, tightness in the leg and back and imbalances in the muscles.

MRI scans

Your doctor may also use MRI scan to check for inflammation below the Iliotibial band. MRI scan is useful because it can exclude other causes of knee pain such as torn cartilage.1,2


There are two major problems people encounter with tensor fasciae latae. They include: facilitation and inhibition. Inhibition is where the muscles are not working as they are expected while facilitation is where the muscles are overworked.

Facilitation happens when other muscles that do similar work as tensor fasciae latae are not working properly. When these muscles are inhibited or not well activated, tensor fasciae latae will have to do an extra job which results in facilitation. The following are some of the muscles that share responsibilities with tensor fasciae latae:

  • Gluteus medius is used to abduct the hip.
  • Gluteus minimus helps to rotate the hip from within.
  • Liopsoas and rectus femoris are used to help the hip flex.1

Iliotibial Band Syndrome

This is where the iliotibial band on the exterior of your knee become inflamed as it rubs the outside of the knee joint. This condition happens when the tendon of the tensor fascia latae muscles run down the iliotibial band rubs against the outside of the knee joint causing pain and inflammation. Iliotibial band syndrome is also known as runners’ knee. The causes of this syndrome include:

This condition occurs mostly to athletes especially those who run long distances and bicyclists. Iliotibial band syndrome can occur initially as a result of a combination of issues such as poor flexibility of muscles, poor training habits and imbalances in the mechanical processes in the pelvic, knees, lower back and hip.

Issues with the structure of the body can also cause Iliotibial band Syndrome. Some people may have different leg lengths, an unusual tilt to the pelvic or bowed legs.

Errors during training can also cause this condition. An athlete who trains on the road where the center is higher than the outside has one leg downhill compared to the other. When this occurs, the pelvic always tilts to support this activity which causes Iliotibial band to become inflamed. Inflammation can also occur when an athlete runs many hills. Also when an athlete runs downhill, he/ she stresses the Iliotibial band since it works to stabilize the knee during this activity.

Cyclists on the other hand can have Iliotibial band syndrome when they use a wrong posture while cycling. This depends on the how the clips are aligned on the bicycle and can cause the foot to rotate inside. As a result, this may widen the angle of Iliotibial band as it crosses the knee hence elevating your risk of inflammation.

Activities such as rowing, weight lifting especially with too much squatting can cause inflammation of Iliotibial band.2


Management and treatment of Iliotibial band syndrome combines several methods. The main aim of these methods to is to minimize pain and relieve inflammation and stretch muscles for quick recovery. The following treatment options can be used:


The first step in managing pain and inflammation of the Iliotibial band is to have enough rest. Rest is vital because it allows the Iliotibial band to heal properly. You will also include less straining activities such as swimming to keep you fit.


You can also apply ice on the affected area to reduce inflammation. Apply ice after every hour after waiting for about 10 minutes before applying the next ice, and then you can apply 2 to 3 times a day if you still feel pain.


Your doctor may recommend drugs to reduce pain and inflammation such as Ibuprofen.


Your doctor may suggest a physiotherapist to teach how to massage the affected area so as to help relax and loosen the tissues. The physiotherapist can also do other activities such as acupunture to reduce pain. Acupunture involves inserting needles into the affected areas of your body and left for some time until the pain reduces and removed.

In addition, learn how to stretch and strengthen muscles outside your hip and do foam roller exercises. This will boast your recovery from Iliotibial Band syndrome. In case you are not bale, you can look for a professional physiotherapist near you to help you these exercises.1

Reference List

  1. Iliotibial Band Syndrome. http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/sport-injuries/knee-pain/iliotibial-band-syndrome
  2. http://www.medicinenet.com/iliotibial_band_syndrome/page2.htm
  3. https://www.kenhub.com/en/library/anatomy/tensor-fasciae-latae-muscle
  4. https://www.precisionmovement.coach/tensor-fasciae-latae-pain-techniques/
  5. Tensor fasciae latae. http://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/tensor-fasciae-latae

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