Tackling TFL “Tightness”

Running into a tight tensor fascia latae is very common in a lot of people, especially runners (pun intended) and for a lot of people, even therapists, go after the symptom instead of root cause.

This little muscle can cause a lot of problems around the back, hips and knees since it has direct attachment and influence to those areas.

It can be a contributor to ITband friction syndrome, patellofemoral pain, snapping hip, trochanteric bursitis etc.

What we need to understand is not that the muscles feel tight and needs to be stretched, but why is it overactive in the first place. Once we understand that muscles primarily do only what they are told to do by the nervous system we will stop beating them up with foam rollers, dry needling, lacrosse ball, aggressive stretching and any other soft tissue device to inflict pain upon ourselves.

Now don’t get me wrong, the tools and methods mentioned above are great techniques for relaxing the muscles and resetting the tone to get them to work more appropriately. But if that is all we do to the body, as soon as we get moving and back to our activity the muscles, TFL in this case, will tone and tighten back up.

Massaging and releasing the TFL resets the “hardware” component of the body. Activating the muscles around the hip such as the Gluteals, hip flexors, and hip adductors to share the load, then moving the body in a new way with the supporting muscles of the hip and trunk will create new “software”to prevent TFL from tightening up again.

Once this is established we will stop overusing TFL and get back to the activities we enjoy that it stopped us from doing in the first place.

The video below I will walk you through some simple “hardware” reset techniques using the foam roller, lacrosse ball and massage stick. Then activate and wake up some potentially sleepy muscles around the hip that may not be pulling their weight and restore some balance to the hip and pelvis.