Groin pain Part 10f: Self-treatment tips for the tensor fasciae latae (TFL)

Groin pain, Muscle information, Self-treatment tips / Monday, August 17th, 2009

This is a series on groin pain. Part 10 is about self-treatment. The previous post gave tips for treating the iliopsoas. For positioning and landmarks go back to Part 10a. These are tips I give groin pain patients in my Boston area Neuromuscular Therapy center. If you missed the beginning of the groin series, go back to Part 1.

The tensor fasciae latae and iliopsoas are hip flexors, crossing the hip joint and assisting each other from opposite sides of the hip bone (ilium). The TFL has a Trigger Point that refers deep into the hip joint. It can feel like groin pain.

Treatment protocol: Hold pressure for 8-12 seconds or until you feel a little less pain or a softening of the muscle. If you don’t feel a change, you can hold up to 20 seconds. If your muscle can’t let go by then, keep your fingers in the same place and let up pressure for a few seconds, then go in again in the same place. Your muscles need blood to release. Letting up pressure allows a fresh supply to flow in.

tflmuscleLocate the tensor fasciae latae (TFL): Put your hands on your hips. You may find this easier to do standing up. The bony angle at the front of the hip bone (ASIS of the ilium) is where it starts. It travels along the curve of the ilium toward the side of the waist for a few inches, maybe about the length of the first joint of your thumb. Place the side of your thumb along that bone then reach with your fingers to search for the bony bump on the side of the top of your thigh. That’s the greater trochanter of the femur. The TFL spans the space between your thumb and your fingers. It attaches below the trochander to the top of the ITB, the iliotibial band that forms the shape of the indentation all along the side of your thigh to the knee. When it contracts, it bends your limb at both the hip and the knee.

Treat the tensor fasciae latae: Lying on the side you want to treat, draw your knee up forward to flex at the hip. Place a Knobble or a ball like an Omni Roller, lacrosse or tennis ball under your hip and position it so you are on the TFL. You may need to roll a little toward your stomach to get better pressure. Search for places that hurt, especially those that refer pain, and follow the treatment protocol above.

Alternatively you can treat the TFL standing up with your pressure tool against a wall or door jamb. Position yourself standing on both legs and lean against the tool. When you find a good spot for treatment, lift the leg of the hip you’re treating off the floor just enough so that you are standing on the opposite leg with the hip you’re treating completely relaxed. If the muscle is being used to stand up on that leg, you’ll be working against a contracting muscle. Not efficient! Follow the treatment protocol above.

The next and last post on self-treatment will be for the upper quadriceps muscles on the front of the thigh.

One Reply to “Groin pain Part 10f: Self-treatment tips for the tensor fasciae latae (TFL)”

  1. HI Nikki, It’s true that if the hip flexors are tight it can make opposing muscles weak, but it’s not that simple. The TFL and the anterior glute medius work together, but the TFL the posterior portion of the g.medius oppose each other. Without knowing more about the history of your complaint, it’s hard to help a lot. Try a combination of stretching the groin and hip flexors and strengthening the posterior glutes and hamstrings. Balancing the muscle activity is important to normalize the hip joint. If you want to give me more information I’ll try to give you more insight.

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