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Tensor fasciae latae muscle - want to learn more about it?

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Tensor fasciae latae muscle

The tensor fasciae latae muscle belongs to the group of gluteal muscles. Even though the tensor fasciae latae isn't considered a thick muscle, it can easily be palpated since it lies above all hip muscles, particularly in athletes who engage and strengthen their hip muscles, such as hurdlers and weightlifters.

The muscle is both functionally and structurally related with the gluteus maximus. It is continuous with the iliotibial tract, which attaches to the tibia. The tensor fasciae latae muscle contributes to maintaining the balance of the pelvis while the body is mobile.

Key facts about the tensor fasciae latae muscle
Origin Outer lip of anterior iliac crest, Anterior superior iliac spine (ASIS)
Insertion Iliotibial tract
Innervation Superior gluteal nerve (L4-S1)
Function

Hip joint: Thigh internal rotation, (Weak abduction); Knee joint: Leg external rotation, (Weak leg flexion/ extension); Stabilises hip & knee joints

This article will discuss the anatomy and the function of the tensor fasciae latae muscle.

Anatomy

Origins & Insertions

The muscle originates from the outer lip of the anterior iliac crest and the anterior superior iliac spine. Distally its fibers attach to the fascia lata - a deep fascia surrounding the entire thigh musculature. The tensor fasciae latae, the fibers of the gluteus maximus and the aponeurosis of the gluteus medius form a horizontal reinforcement known as the iliotibial tract. This band of connective tissue runs laterally over the knee joint and inserts at the lateral condyle of tibia and lateral patellar retinaculum.

Innervation

The innervation is supplied by the superior gluteal nerve (L4-S1).

Function

The main task of the tensor fasciae latae is to sustain tension of the iliotibial tract. As the femoral shaft meets the pelvis, an angled pressure from above imposes a high bending strain to the femur. Both the hip abductors and the tensor fasciae latae counteract the pressure on the opposite side and help stabilize the bone (tension banding effect). Furthermore, the activation of the muscle leads to an abduction, flexion and internal rotation of the hip joint.

Contraction of the tensor fasciae latae muscle also causes external rotation of the leg at the knee joint. Furthermore, it aslo weakly flexes the leg, when there an existing degree of flexion greater than 20 degrees, and weakly extends the leg, when the angle of flexion is less than 20 degrees.

Finally, the TFL also works to stabilise both the hip and knee joints. 

Clinical Aspects

A bursa is located between the iliotibial tract and the lateral condyle of tibia protecting the band from the underlying femur. However, overstraining and increased activity of the tendon can result in an inflammation of the bursa (iliotibial band syndrome).

Endurance athletes, such as joggers and bicyclists, with leg deformities (e.g. genu varum, flat foot) are particularly prone to this condition. Clinically, patients present a short, overly tense iliotibial tract, swelling above the lateral condyle of tibia and pain which increases during movements of the lower leg.

Tensor fasciae latae muscle - want to learn more about it?

Our engaging videos, interactive quizzes, in-depth articles and HD atlas are here to get you top results faster.

Sign up for your free Kenhub account today and join over 1,134,051 successful anatomy students.

“I would honestly say that Kenhub cut my study time in half.” – Read more. Kim Bengochea Kim Bengochea, Regis University, Denver

Show references

References:

  • D. Drenckhahn/J. Waschke: Taschenbuch Anatomie, 1st edition, Urban & Fischer Verlag/Elsevier (2008), p. 78-79
  • M. Schünke/E. Schulte/U. Schumacher: Prometheus – LernAtlas der Anatomie – Allgemeine Anatomie und Bewegungssystem, 2nd edition, Thieme Verlag (2007), p. 472
  • C. J. Wirth/L. Zichner/D. Kohn: Orthopädie und Orthopädische Chirurgie, Thieme Verlag (2005), p. 494-495
  • J. Weineck: Sportanatomie, Spitta Verlag (2003), 16th edition, p. 155

Author:

  • Achudhan Karunaharamoorthy

Illustrators:

  • Tensor fasciae latae muscle - ventral view - Liene Znotina
  • Superior gluteal nerve - dorsal view - Liene Znotina
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