Maintenance Monday: Solve Your Hip Pain with TFL

Posted on: May 15th 2017

Solve your hip pain with TFL

Ladies and gents, meet the Starbucks Muscle! Otherwise known as the TFL, or Tensor Fascia Latae, it’s the star of this week’s #MaintenanceMonday. TFL might also be the magic ingredient that will help you finally solve your hip pain.

I call it “the Starbucks Muscle” because it’s the easiest way to remember its name. It sounds like something that you’d order up at your local ‘Bucks, no? One Grande Tensor Fascia Latae, extra hot, half-sweet, no foam, please!”

If you’ve ever had a physiotherapist or chiropractor work on your TFL, you know that this little guy is a REAL ASSHOLE. Damn, that is a painful experience! And TFL gets that way because of the same old story that creates almost all chronic pain: one muscle is caught napping, causing another muscle to take over. The new guy, doing a job he’s not designed for,  thus gets overworked, angry and downright disgruntled. We end up with chronic pain and weakness. We can work on the sore spot all we want, but if we don’t address the ‘chain of command,’ any relief we experience will be temporary only.

Here’s a simplified look at the chronic cycle of what could be causing your hip pain: 

  • Weak or disused glute muscles leads to overuse of the piriformis muscle to stabilize your hip.
  • You experience piriformis pain from the overuse, which can include sciatic pain (shooting pain in your hip and/or down the back of your leg).
  • TFL jumps on board to help piriformis out, becoming tight.
  • Tight TFL prevents glutes from fully firing. 
  • Glutes can’t fully fire, so they remain weak…
  • … And the vicious cycle continues.

The good news? It’s possible that by calming down your TFL, you might actually be able to properly fire up your glutes! And by focusing on strengthening internal and external rotators in your hip, you can work to reverse the cycle.

Here’s a Look at Your Hip & TFL:

TFL and ITB Anatomy
From www.boneandspine.com

**TFL is officially a hip flexor, so you might also want to check out my Way Better Quad Stretch, which is also a hip flexor stretch for some extra #maintenancemonday inspiration!

Here’s How to Solve Your Hip Pain:

When to do this: Any time you’re a little bit warmed up. Try all three once or twice a day for a week to see results.

Sets/Reps: 

  1. External Rotation (leg in front) – 5 second hold, x 3 reps. Build up to 5 reps of 10 seconds.
  2. Internal Rotation (leg behind) – same as #1
  3. Stretch – 30s minimum per side; 60-90 seconds may be more effective.

Booty’s Hot Tip: You may find some additional benefit from doing a bit of foam rolling on the area of your TFL (see the diagram above, and remember, it’s near that coin pocket on your jeans!) before doing these exercises, to release it a bit first.

Did you try this? What did you think? Tell me all about it by leaving a comment below!

xo Booty Quake

PS: You can get all of the #maintenancemonday videos here.

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