My mother is an extraordinary woman. Her first of two full time jobs is running a farm that is the home to over a hundred rescued animals and provides therapeutic riding for children and adults with a variety of disabilities. Her second job is editing an online newspaper for the town she lives in. She spends half her day running around a farm doing all the things that entails lifting, pushing, shoveling, brushing, petting, and caring, a quarter of her day is spent running around town snapping pictures and chasing down interviews, and the last quarter she spends sitting at a computer, writing and uploading. To many she is a superwoman, and although she is, she has physical aches and pains.
One of her biggest complaints (which she never complains about) is that when she moves her right leg into extension she experiences extreme cramping all the way down her right leg. For years she thought this was a permanent side effect of a back surgery she had in 2003, and that she would just have to live with it. I, on the other hand, as a massage therapy student and a Yoga Tune Up® teacher was very curious about this symptom. And one day, while I was doing the Marching Mini Vini, it hit me, “HIP FLEXORS!” Somehow I convinced my mother to take some time out of her day to get on my massage table, and as soon as I applied a little pressure to the hip flexors on that right side she felt the cramping. BINGO! Her pain is not irreversible nerve damage; it is due to extremely tight hip flexor muscles. The Tensor Fasciae Latae is one of those hip flexor muscles that is adding to her discomfort, and the amazing thing is, it is something she can work on. By stretching and lengthening her hip flexors, including her TFL, she can get rid of her pain.
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Wow – your Mom is fabulous! And so are you for looking deeper into her symptom of pain. This story is a great reminder that aches and pains that have been experienced over time, can potentially be erased with the proper intention, attention and care.
I struggled with pain for a long time and I’m a firm believer that most pain can be helped. YTU was something I found that brought be great release and taught me to reassess and strengthen areas in my body. It’s not just about massaging but stretching, strengthening so we become better movers
Your story is a great example of how easy it is to decide what is causing a pain without really examining the body. Too often we blame our pain on the wrong thing. It wasn’t the back injury it was tight muscles. We have to keep looking with fresh eyes to find the source or problems so they can be resolved. thanks!
Nicely said, it’s a good reminder that pain is often treatable!
Thanks for sharing Bo! My mum struggled with the same problems and no doctor or therapist could tell her what it was or where her pain came from. After chancing jobs I encountered the same pain. Wondering where this new pain might come from, I came across very tight hip flexors while rolling on them.
Now my mum and I are both rolling and there is a lot less pain!
Thank you for sharing this story about your Mom. I have a friend who has been in chronic hip pain recently. Not one therapist has suggested that it could be that pesky little TFL. After hearing your story I am convinced this is the culprit.
I have a similar story, my husband plays pick up basketball three times a week and was beginning to have back spasms and pain in his hips. I scheduled a massage for him and he was introduced to YTU balls by the LMP. He now stretches and ball rolls regularly and has managed to stay away from back spasms and bring down his hip pain.
Your article is a great example of how we should just not accept pain as being part of our lives! We should always be curious about our bodies and ask ourselves ”is there something I can do to eliminate the source of pain, or to live a better life with my body as it is”. A lot of people just don’t take the time. They get carried away by all the other things they do (moms especially) and they forget they can ask for help. Your story just motivates me to continue my learning journey with YTU and be there for those people. 🙂
I never ceases to amaze me how “everything is connected” and that pain/discomfort in one area of my body can, and usually is, caused by an imbalance in another area of my body.
I have recently learned about the TFL and appreciate how a hard working woman like your mother could just accept that pain. Way to be an awesome daughter and explore her potential paths to healing it!
Wow! I wonder how long it took before she experienced relief. Amazing how tight muscles can cause such pain! Great that you’re able to help.
Thank you Bo for putting the finger on a manageable treatment for many peoples chronic pain. Oddly enough, I just had a wonderful…and uncomfortable…massage due to extemely tight hip flexors. Work on my TFL was not pleasant but very helpful in the end!
Love how you went to curious mind to help your mom. And looking at the front body and hip flexors for the solution was insightful. Lucky mom you have!
Looking forward to helping my own mom, who is having issues with arthritis in her hips, with what I’m learning through YTU.
Yes the TFL! Ive been recently exploring this area with my Yoga Tune Up Balls and it is pretty AMAZING! Which reminds me that I need to research more ways to roll it out. So fabulous you found your mom’s blind spot! Thanks for sharing!
Un bel exemple de prendre le temps de découvrir et connaitre son corps.Je crois que beaucoup de gens ne prenne pas le temps de s’arrêter et se demander quelle est la cause de la blessure et qu’est ce que je peux faire pour corriger ce mal.Bravo tu lui a enlevé une tonne de pression.
Amazing sleuthing!! I hope to be able to help those around me in pain or discomfort with these magical balls & movement awareness patterns.
Ahhh the TFL! When I learned of and studied this muscle years ago I wanted to stretch it out and give it some attention. However, what I realized was that the stretching was not relieving some of he pain I had. What actually really helped was rolling on the Tune Up balls. I first started against the awl so that I could control the pressure better but then I moved to the floor and it really felt good to me. Thanks for this post! I haven’t rolled my TFL out in a little while. This is a great reminder to go give it some love and release.
Nice reminder of the importance of rolling out and strengthening the IT band/TFL area. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t experience a little discomfort when rolling the area- it is so intense! I like your point about how difficult it is for a massage therapist to not only access this muscle, but also apply the right amount of pressure. Enter YTU balls!
The TFL seems to be such a tricky and powerful little muscle. Although I know it needs much attention, I also find it an awkward area to work out for my massage therapy clients. This article is a good reminder to me that I need to find a way either to massage the TFL more effectively, or to consistently instruct my clients to use the balls to massage it out themselves.
Time invested on making your body a better place is always time well spent. I think it is a great thing that your mum felt comfortable enough to reveal her pain to you and that you were able to help relieve her pain from her tensor fasciae latae
I am also a farm woman and have been working on fixing my TFL for years. Yoga Tune Up has been incredibly helpful. It blows my mind how many things start to feel better as I tackle this issue!
Your article reiterates that we do not have to live in pain all the time. Thank you YTU.
The other day I was having considerable knee pain. After doing some ball rolling on the TFL I noticed a significant decline in the discomfort. The TFL is a little muscle that packs a large punch. So important to keep him happy for overall leg health!
Used massage balls to roll on the TFL today and I have to say it was great! as its connected to the iliotibial tract, the whole lateral thigh felt good after the rolling. since the ITband is more fibrous and the TFL more muscular, it was easier to achieve results with the TFL manipulation. Highly recommended.
I do a sport the requires a lot of hip flexion. On top of that , I sleep on my side with one hip elevated and one hip depressed. Yikes, I have short hip flexors!! Yoga therapy balls are saving my life!!
I only discovered the TFL in recent years and have been massaging it out with my IT band to really release the tightness I have accumulated over the years. These two spots are truly one of my tender spots, the YTU balls in particular have been more beneficial then some of the other tools, really allowing me to feel the sensation!
Thank you Bo! I had the experience wen I was pregnant with my second daughter, that my TFL was constantly cramping up given the growing expanse of belly and the shift from a neutral pelvis into a pelvis that was constantly trying to fight the need to go into anterior tilt. Had I had YTU balls at the time (7 years ago), I am sure I would have worn them down into little erasers…. but alas I had to settle for ART. However, I find myself teaching my pregnant friends with similar complaints about these little miracle ball, providing them with much needed relief.
That’s amazing that you figured out a way to give your mom some relief. That TFL is a pesky little bugger and it is easy to overlook when it is surrounded by other powerful hip flexors. But I guess because it connects right into the IT band it has more power and force than I realize.
Such enthusiasm in this story! I think that is THE significant quality of YTU that I’m truly beginning to understand – the power of being able to empower other people with the knowledge and awareness that can help them live with less pain and more efficient movement in their bodies. What a gift you were able to give to your mom – I only hope my newly gained understanding will help me to do the same for those in my life!
Its amazing to me how much i overlook the tfl when trying to relieve pain in my own hip flexors especially since it never fully goes away. i wonder why this is. i guess I was told by so many pts and doctors to stretch my iliopsoas i forgot that i actually KNOW that there are other things that need to be stretched too. I loved learning to use the balls on this area, it awakened a lot of STUFF that needed to wake up!
i trust using the therapy balls would have a powerful affect on the TFL. i will test this out and find out for myself. thx for sharing this!
Who knew the TFL can cause cramping all the way down the leg!! Amazing what some deep fascia rolling can do for what someone thinks as life long chronic pain. I began with high density foam rollers to improve my mobility, and have graduated to the therapy balls for the versatility of going across the grain, with the grain of muscles, tissue etc. So fascinating!!
When I first rolled my YTU balls over my TFL (after properly finding it) I wanted to scream in pain…and joy. Now there are days that I wake up and crave massaging my hip flexors. It’s amazing how much is stored in this area of the body, especially during my desk job. It’s wonderful to find such relief that I never knew I needed!
Thanks for giving the TFL an appropriate shout out! I agree that it’s an often overlooked muscle when people are trying to recover from hip, low back, and even pelvic pain. I frequently have clients with IT Band pain who spend large quantities of time on a foam roller, rolling out the side seam of their thigh to no. or limited, avail. When I show them how to use the therapy balls on their TFL, voila! They start seeing more long term results.
Am I month from total hip replacement/left side. Am experiencing issues with tlf…anyone have exercies to releve the pain
Right now I’m trying to determine if I have tight, strained, overworked hip flexors and TFL aggravation or weak hip flexors or week or overused quads. So much to figure out! Thank goodness I’m learning all about this so I can alleviate this chronic hip flexor pain that developed in a teacher training two years ago when I adducted my legs of one of them stuck to the mat trying to hop my legs back to tadasana… Or is it because I had a job teaching from home (not yoga) where I sat ALL THE TIME. This area is fascinating for me on a personal level. I will heal it and I will share the knowledge!
Thats fantastic that you could help your mom….a busy busy woman, with such a quick YTU fix! Its so amazing that most busy people, like your mom, think they
have to live with “IT”. YTU is so brilliant for our busy lives. breaks it down, stretchesand strengthens….fast! and easy to keep up.
I touched by TFLs with the balls the other day and it felt like I had been stabbed!! I took the balls to the wall and it was much easier to work them out. I can see how some serious pain could come from this region! I have been using a foam roller for the last 6 month on my IT bands and it did not even touch some of the places these balls can reach. Rolling out my TFLs gave an increased relief than just my IT bands alone! Amazing!
Those amazing Yoga Tune Up Balls will change your mom’s life! I am a cyclist and runner. I put in about 200 miles per week on my bike. My salvation has been getting “those balls” right up into my TFL against a wall – I really lean in – while flexing and extending my hip and internally and externally rotating my thigh.
Oh my… I’m going to go do that now!
All the best to you AND your mom.
Thanks so much for this post! I have a friend with similar issues and can’t wait to actually work on his TFL. Once again, Yoga Tune UP to the rescue!
I love that you bring attention to the opposing movement happening in the other leg. I feel that people often look at whats happening if they can see I and only see that one side. We often just think of the front and back of the body rather than going across the body to the opposite limb. Of course Yoga Tune Up has us thinking out of the boxana at the big picture, whole body experience. This will have a lasting effect on me as I begin to use Tune Up to help others, create more awareness within myself, and explore.
How great you were able to help your mom, who sounds like a very interesting and caring individual. We need more people like her, so good for you for discovering the solution to relieving her pain. I’m loving the therapy balls for loosening muscles and tissue all over, but especially in the hips, which are my tight area.
Awesome, the TFL is a little sister to the illiotibial band which in my experience internally rotated my leg so much i gave myself a significant stress fracture in my tibia! My glass like hip flexors and psoas muscle didn’t help:)
I would also love more details regarding how to stretch hip flexors and whether the method primarily targets the psoas or other muscles. The YTU leg stretches conducted with a block below the sacrum is wonderful for lengthening the psoas while down-regulating the nervous system, which in turn relaxes the muscles.
Tight hip flexors, I was hoping that a ytu clip would have been attached – as I do not have them but hear of this often in my class. The ball suggestions on the TFL sounds good, but are there any poses on the block one can do to lenthen such as a block under the hips feet flexed against the wall in a subtle back bend like a long deep soas streach? Feed back would be good as I teach part time and have just come off my YTU training. Luckily I do not have too many issues personally so I have to pay attention to these blogs for ideas I can pass onto my class. Thanks for the ideas – I like also the idea of strengthening the hamstring muscles – could be weak and hip flexors over compensating – wonder also how the mother’s posture has been her whole life is she sway back… ect.. I would love new info – although I am going to continue to read Bo’s blogs to find out more. Thanks to all.
its funny, because my mom complained of the same pain recently when she started doing more strength based training. i was immediately able to give her stretches to relieve the ache but when i read this just now a lightbulb went off in my head and the whole structural muscular connection made sense! thank you!
This reminds me of Gil Hedley’s “Fuzz Speech.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FtSP-tkSug
It seems like the more something hurts, the less we want to move it for fear of doing more damage or intolerable pain–yet those are the places we probably need to move and work through the most.
She would definately benefit from massaging the ITband, I recently have rediscovered how important it is at helping my legs feel more light and balanced
Hi, I just recently had a major breakthrough myself with my hipflexors and pain. I realized that the Yoga Tune Up balls are relieving my lower back muscles which are tight from working in a flexed spine for 7-8 hrs a day. And by doing massage and practicing movement (exercises) that I don’t do all day, i am making progress and will live pain free. Hope your mom stays on the right track. Caroline
BecauseI love massaging my TFL muscle with the YTU balls, I now spend more time massaging my clients’ TFL muscle Most are quite surprised by how tight they are in that area of their bodies and they also feel so much better afterwards.
My hip flexors are SO tight!!! Since beginning my practice I have started to notice a slight difference, but like Laura, since obtaining my YTU therapy balls, I have started using the cross fiber massage technique on my tfl… And what a major difference!
Just found the TFL with the therapy balls, and the self massage in that spot made me notice just how tight I was. I think using them regularly to stretch the TFL will be so helpful in the long run.
Walking lunges are a great stretch for the hip flexers. They can also be used as a warm-up for the beginning of a yago class
My hip flexors are the bane of my legs existence. Okay that’s a little dramatic but it is the main source of the pain and discomfort I feel in my hips and legs. I am a martial artist so all that kicking has my hip flexors and abductors working overtime.
I also do a form of bodywork called Ki-Hara Resistance Stretching and part of what we learn about muscles is that the balancing muscle to the one targeted for stretch must be able to contract for the stretch to occur. In this case this means for the hip flexor to stretch the balancing muscle group (central hamstring) must contract. I’ve been working on this for myself because of my own hip flexor issues so for anyone who has tight hip flexors (this is nearly everyone I know) consider enhancing the stretch of your hip flexors by also strengthening the hamstrings. If the hamstring won’t shorten (a.k.a. contract) your hip flexors won’t lengthen (a.k.a. stretch). Just a little extra advice for anyone who’s hip flexors drive them as crazy as mine have.