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Iliotibial Tract and Fascia Lata – Functional Anatomy

Fascia Lata

Fascia Lata

The fascia lata is the deep fascia that wraps the outer thigh.

This thick fascial envelope attaches superiorly to the crest of the Ilium and inguinal ligament. The fascia continues onto the pubic rami, ischial tuberosity, sacrotuberous ligament, coccyx and sacrum. Distally, it thickens as it attaches to the proximal tibia.

It offers elastic stability, much like a compression stocking or kinesiotape. The fascia thickens along the iliac crest where it connects the gluteus maximus and to the low back via a thick continuation of the fascia. This area along the iliac crest blends into the gluteal tuberosity It is also thick around the knee and thinner around the adductor muscles.

Iltiotibial Tract (IT Band)

Iliotibial Tract

The Iliotibial Band, iliotibial tract or IT band is a thickening of the fascia lata long the lateral thigh. It attaches to the iliac tubercle on the lateral hip and extends along the lateral thigh to the lateral tibial condyle.

A portion of the gluteus maximus and tensor fascia lata invest into the IT band. About 25% of the superficial fiber of the gluteus maximus attach to pull the IT band back like a bow string.

They help to hold the femur in the acetabulum. They also extend, abduct and rotate the hip joint.

The Gluteal Aponeurosis is a thickening of the fascia lata. It originates from the iliac crest. The fascia covers and anchors the anterior two-thirds of the gluteus medius. As well, it extends inferiorly between the gluteus medius and the superficial fascia. Its anterior border inserts along the IT band and gluteal tuberosity of the femur, In that same area, it attaches to the gluteus maximus on its inferior border.

The differences in anatomical presentations are contradictory and confusing. So, most anatomical illustrations show the IT band diverging with fibers that blend toward the upper fibers of the gluteus maximus and other fibers that run along the posterior Edge of the TFL. The IT band is usually described, however, as inserting on the iliac tubercle with the gluteal aponeurosis filling the space between the iliac tubercle and the border of the gluteus maximus.

A study of 40 cadavers shows it to have 3 layers:

  • The superficial layer is superficial to the TFL
  • The middle layer attaches to the ilium, deep to the TFL
    These layers merge at the distal end of the TFL
  • The deep layer originates from the supraacetabular fossa between the capsule of the hip joint and the rectus femoris’s attachment.
    The deep layer extends to join with the other layers distal to their merger interior to the TFL.

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Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia, where he sees clients. He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points, and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.

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