The 10 Best Tensor Fasciae Latae Stretches

This blog post will go through the 10 best Tensor Fasciae Latae stretches.

The Tensor Fasciae Latae (or TFL for short) is a muscle in the hip that is commonly tight/stiff.

Disclaimer: The content presented on this blog post is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. It exists for informational purposes only. Use of the content provided is at your sole risk. For more information: Medical disclaimer.

How do I know if the TFL is tight?

Here are 2 simple tests that you can perform to determine if there is tightness in your TFL muscle.

a) Ober’s test (self test)

ober's test for tfl tightness

Instruction:

  • Lie down on the side.
    • (The upper leg will be tested.)
  • On the lower leg, have the hip and knee bent to 90 degrees.
  • Perform the following movements without moving your pelvis. Keep the pelvis level.
    • Lift up your upper leg.
    • Bring it backwards without arching your lower back.
    • Let it drop down.
  • (Do not let the pelvis tilt or rotate as this can produce unreliable results.)
  • Assess knee position.

Results: If the upper knee is unable to drop past the mid line of your body, this may suggest that the TFL muscle is tight.

b) Thomas Test

thomas test for tight tfl

Instructions:

  • Lie down on your back.
  • Hold both knees together towards your chest.
  • Whilst keeping one knee towards your chest, let the other leg drop down.
  • Take note of the leg position.
  • Repeat on both sides.

Results: If the dropped leg tracks towards the outside, this may suggest that the TFL is tight.

What causes a tight Tensor Fasciae Latae?

Without addressing the main cause of tightness, the tensor fasciae latae stretches will only temporarily loosen up the muscle.

Common causes:

  • Prolonged sitting (This is a common cause!)
  • Standing shifted towards one side
  • Over use during sport (Running, kicking, cycling etc)
  • Weak hip flexors
  • Weak hip abductors
  • Certain posture (see below)

What is the effect on the posture?

Tightness in the TFL muscle may be involved with the following postures:

a) Rotated pelvis

rotated pelvis

A tighter TFL on one side can cause the pelvis to rotate towards the opposite side.

b) Anterior pelvic tilt

anterior pelvic tilt

If the TFL is tight on both sides, this can result in the pelvis tipping forwards.

c) Lateral pelvic tilt

lateral pelvic tilt

As the TFL is also a hip abductor, tightness in this muscle can lead to uneven hips.

d) Knee valgus

knee valgus

As the TFL is also a hip internal rotator, tightness in this muscle can lead to the knee falling towards the mid line of the body.

e) Poor glute activation

Tightness of the TFL can limit the amount of extension that is available in the hip joint.

This can prevent the glute muscles from engaging in the full range.

f) Altered Walking pattern

A tight TFL can shift the body towards the opposite side as the hip goes into extension.

The 10 best Tensor Fasciae Latae stretches

With the following stretches for the Tensor Fasciae Latae, it is important that you FEEL a firm stretch sensation directly in the muscle. Hold each stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds.

1. Release the TFL

Performing a release on this muscle will help make the following Tensor Fasciae Latae stretches be even more effective!

how to release the TFL

Instructions:

  • Locate the muscle belly of the Tensor Fasciae Latae.
    • (Use Google if you are not sure where this muscle is located.)
  • Whilst lying on the floor, position the TFL directly on top of a massage ball.
  • Apply an appropriate amount of your body weight onto the ball.
  • Make sure to cover the entire muscle belly.
  • Continue for 1 minute.

2. Standing knee bend

standing tensor fasciae latae stretch

Instructions:

  • Stand up and hold onto something for balance.
  • Bend your knee backwards.
  • Hold onto your ankle and pull your foot towards your buttock.
  • Keep your knees together and aligned with one another.
  • Engage your buttocks and push your hips forwards.
  • Push your hips towards the side you are stretching.

3. Cross over side lean on wall

tensor fasciae latae stretch against wall

Instructions:

  • Stand sideways towards a wall.
    • The hip you will be stretching is closest to the wall.
  • Place your hand on the wall for support.
  • Place the foot that is closest to the wall (the one that you will be stretching) to the opposite side of the other foot.
  • Whilst placing most of your weight through the leg furthest from the wall, drive your hips forwards.
  • Keep the pelvis facing forwards throughout this stretch.
  • Lean your pelvis towards the wall.

4. Lunge

 tensor fasciae latae stretch

Instructions:

  • Assume a lunge position with your hands on your hips.
    • (The leg at the back will be the side that is stretched.)
  • Make sure to have both feet in line with each other.
  • Keep your pelvis facing forwards at all times.
  • Tilt your pelvis backwards and push your hips forwards.
  • Lunge forwards.
  • Push your hips out towards the side of the back leg.

5. Kneeling lunge

kneeling tensor fasciae latae stretch

Instructions:

  • Assume a kneeling lunge position.
    • Use a pillow underneath the knee.
  • Make sure to have both feet in line with each other.
  • Keep your pelvis facing forwards throughout the stretch.
  • Tilt your pelvis backwards.
    • “Tuck the tailbone underneath you.”
  • Drive the hips forwards.
  • Lunge forwards.
  • Push your hips out towards the same side of your back leg.

6. Deep cross over

stretches for the tfl

Instructions:

  • Assume the position as above.

7. The Pretzel

tfl stretch on the floor

Instructions:

  • Lie down on the floor facing upwards.
  • Slightly bend your knee.
  • Allow the knee to fall towards the mid line.
  • Place the other foot on the outside of the knee.
  • Push the knee down towards the ground.
  • Tuck your tail bone underneath you and push your hips forwards.

8. Side lie knee bend

side lie tensor fasciae latae stretches

Instructions:

  • Lie down on your side.
    • The hip on the upper side will be stretched.
  • Bend your knee backwards.
  • Hold onto your ankle and pull your foot towards your buttock.
  • Try to bring your leg backwards as far as possible without arching your lower back.
  • Engage your buttocks and push your hips forwards.
  • Let the knee drop towards the ground.

9. Eccentric load

eccentric tfl loading

Instructions:

  • Stand sideways towards a wall.
    • The hip you will be stretching is closest to the wall.
  • Place your hand on the wall for support.
  • Place the foot that is closest to the wall to the opposite side of the other foot.
  • Lift up the foot closest to the wall so that all of your weight is on the outer leg.
  • Keep your pelvis facing forwards at all times. Do not allow the pelvis to rotate.
  • Engage your buttocks and push your hips forwards without arching your lower back.
  • Lean your pelvis towards the wall.
  • Repeat 20 times.

10. Glute activation

By activating the glutes, the aim is to get the Tensor Fasciae Latae to relax.

glute activation

Instructions:

  • Stand up right.
  • Have your feet in line with each other.
    • (The back leg will be targeted.)
  • Place your weight in the leg that is at the front.
  • Bring your back leg backwards.
  • Aim to FEEL your glutes engage.
  • Do not extend your lower back.
  • Repeat 30 times.
  • For more exercises: Glute Activation Exercises.

Conclusion

The Tensor Fasciae Latae is a muscle that can usually benefit from a good stretch!

When performing a stretch, it is important that you can FEEL the stretch sensation directly over the TFL.


What to do next

1. Any questions?… (Leave me a comment down below.)

2. Come join me on the Facebook page. Let’s keep in touch!

3. Start doing the Tensor Fasciae Latae stretches!

10 thoughts on “The 10 Best Tensor Fasciae Latae Stretches”

  1. Hello Mark,

    Nice to talk to you. I am early sixties with a Valgus knee ( which has been diagnosed in childhood) From couple of years I have been feeling My knees ( specially the right one) painful and weak.. I do have tricompartimental arthritis .. I started following your exercises for valgus knees. Also, I have to say that I should loose some weight as well. I am not chubby, but in the border line to be over weighted.
    Is there any extra exercises that I should do?
    It would be great if I get a reply from you.
    Thanks
    Anelise

    Reply
    • Hello Anelise,

      For the best exercises to address, check out this post: Knee valgus.

      With arthritis, the most important thing is to keep your knee as mobile and as strong as possible.

      If pain is a limiting factor, Hydrotherapy (in a warm pool) will be perfect! Focus on exercises such as squats, lunges, balance, stepping up/down. (Take your time, make sure there is no pain associated, gradually progressive the exercises by going lower in your squats, lunges etc.

      Mark

  2. I am a 51 yo woman. I have a sway back that was diagnosed in childhood, a forward head thrust and a Dowager hump (Cushing’s). My question is: which issue do I work on first or should I work on them all simultaneously?

    Reply
    • Hi Suzanne,

      You can start with any area.

      I would do one area at a time and see how much improvement you can get until you move onto the next.

      Mark

  3. Really helped me with the lateral pelvis tilt.
    I saw you just linked it to that article a few days after I started doing it.
    Tense tensor fasciae latae was a crucial piece of the puzzle for me.
    Thanks you for this new piece of content Mark

    Reply

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