Iliotibial Tract and Fascia Lata – Functional Anatomy

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

It attaches superiorly to the crest of the Ilium and inguinal ligament 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. It thickens along the iliac crest where it connects the gluteus maximus to the low back via a thick continuation of the fascia. It is also thick around the knee and thinner around the adductor muscles.

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.

Also, 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 supraactabular fossa between the capsule of the hip joint and the attachment of the rectus femoris.
    The deep layer extends to join with the other layers distal to their merger interior to the TFL.

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



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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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