Tensor Fascia Lata (TFL) – Functional Anatomy

The Tensor fascia lata is a small fusiform muscle that, with some variance, tapers at the ends.

Origin – the anterior lip of the crest of the ilium

Insertion – lateral, condyle of the tibia via the IT band

The TFL tenses the fascia lata, stabilizing the hip joint by keeping the head of the femur inthe acetabulum. It is is particularly useful in stability while standing.

It is generally agreed to be a medial rotator and important in stabilizing the thigh during external rotation.

Although it is considered to be a weak abductor, it is active in walking. It pulls the front corner of the hip down on the weight bearing leg. This stabilizes the other hip so that the leg does not drag as it swings forward.

It is active as a phasic muscle while standing. It is very active in sports like cycling and skiing. It is a key component in the treatment of IT band syndrome or Runner’s knee.

The TFL invests in the iliotibial tract (IT band) and tenses the fascia to stabilize the knee. IT also acts with gluteus maximus to abduct and rotate the leg.

This post discusses the IT band in more detail.



This site is undergoing changes. Starting in early 2020, we began changing the format of the posts to include more extensive self-care, illustrations, therapist notes, anatomy, and protocols. We’d love your feedback. We are adding posts and converting the old posts as quickly as time permits.


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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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