Tensor Fasciae Latae – Pain & Trigger Points

The tensor fasciae latae is an important muscle in the area of the hip, thigh and knee.

If it is tense or carries trigger points, it can cause pain exactly in these areas.

However, you can free yourself of tensions, trigger points and pain by “loosening” this muscle: With a self-massage.

On this page, you will learn how this works.

1. Pain Patterns & Symptoms

1.1 Pain patterns

Trigger points in the tensor fascia latae can cause pain on the outer/lateral side of the thigh, which is often described by patients as pain in the hip.

The pain can also radiate to the lateral side of the knee.

1.2 Symptoms & ailments

The pain described above can arise at rest and when the muscle is lengthened or shortened.

This is why people with trigger points in the tensor fasciae latae often experience pain during

  • Sitting with raised legs
  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Climbing stairs

2. Attachment Points

The muscle extends from the lateral side of the pelvis down to the lower leg.


  • Front area of the crista iliaca
  • Spina iliaca anterior superior
  • Fascia lata


  • Condylus lateralis of the tibia


  • The muscle is innervated by the nervus gluteus superior.

3. Function

This muscle is particularly active when walking and running. It assists flexion at the hip, the knee well as stabilization of the knee.

Its functions can be divided into:

  • Flexion of the hip
  • Internal rotation of the hip
  • Flexion of the knee
  • Stabilization of the knee
  • Abduction of the hip/leg

Hip flexion


Internal rotation of the hip


Flexion of the knee joint


Stabilization of the knee joint


Abduction of the hip/leg

4. Tensor Fasciae Latae – Trigger Point Activation

Most people develop trigger points in the tensor fasciae latae due to active overload or permanent approach/shortening.

4.1 Active overload

Here I would like to talk about two everyday examples, namely the constant flexion at the hip and walking on an inclined street.

4.1.1 Permanent flexion at the hip

One of the main functions of this muscle is hip flexion. During sport activities, it is often because of this function that it is overloaded.


  • Mountaineering
  • Hiking that involves high gains in elevation
  • Cycling with click pedals

4.1.1 Walking on an inclined street

If you walk on an inclined street, one foot steps on a slightly lower level compared to the other foot.

This results in an impact on the medial side of the knee of your “lower” leg that causes the position similar to a “genu valgum/x position”.

The tensor fasciae latae works against this impact, which can overload it in the long run.

4.2 Passive overloads

Passive overloads occur mainly due to positions where you keep the hip flexed for a long time.

Trigger points arise especially when …

  • … you are in such a position for many hours every day.
  • … you change too quickly your posture after having been in such a position.


  • Desk work
  • Driving a car
  • Gardening in a squat position

5. Palpation

In order to feel the muscle, you must first identify a specific spot on your thigh, the trochanter major. This is the bony “knob” on the lateral side of your upper thigh.

  • Put one hand on the lateral side of your thigh.
  • Move your hand upwards from the middle to the top.
  • Just before you reach the area of the lateral gluteal muscle, you will encounter a bony elevation. That’s your trochanter major.
  • If you pass a bit further on, you’ll feel softer tissue composed of muscle and fat.

The easiest way to feel the tensor fasciae latae is under contraction, i.e. when it tenses.

  • Put your fingers directly in front of the trochanter major.
  • Now turn your thigh inwards and outwards.
  • During these movements, you can feel the muscle moving under your fingers.
  • You can feel it contracting and relaxing.

6. Self-massage of the Tensor Fasciae Latae

For the massage, I recommend a massage ball or a foam roller.

On this page, I show you the massage with a foam roller and the precise rolling movements.

Massage with a roller is less intense and precise than with a ball, but for most people it is perfectly sufficient for the beginning.

Especially since this muscle is very tense in many people and therefore no intensive massage will be tolerable.

6.1 Self-massage with a foam roller

  • Place the roller on the muscle,
  • directly in the area just below your iliac crest.
  • Lie on the floor in prone position and support yourself on your elbows.
  • Place the foam roller on the tensor fasciae latae.
  • Shift some weight onto the roller and start rolling slowly forwards and backwards.
  • This way seek for painful points, and roll over each one a few times.
  • This way massage the anterior and lateral side of the upper third of your thigh.

Note & Tip: Experiment a lot with your body position. Try to apply the massage pressure one time from above and one time from the side.


  • Calais-German, Blandine. Anatomy of Movement. Seattle: Eastland Press, 1993. Print
  • Davies, Clair, and Davies, Amber. The Trigger Point Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide For Pain Relief. Oakland: New Harbinger Publications, Inc., Print
  • Simons, David G., Lois S. Simons, and Janet G. Travell. Travell & Simons’ Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins, 1999. Print.
  • Schünke, Michael., Schulte, Erik, and Schumacher, Udo. Prometheus: Lernatlas der Anatomie. Stuttgart/New York: Georg Thieme Verlag, 2007. Print