For years I had issues with my right knee. I was told I needed surgery on more than one occasion in order to solve my problem, but I knew there was a better way.  That’s when I discovered what I call the “lateral leg connection.” You see, it wasn’t that I needed surgery, it was that the muscles and fascia on the side of my leg were weak and tight, respectively.  We tend to focus on and train the “mirror muscles.” These are the ones we can see in the mirror at the gym or studio and in my case, the quadriceps. I knew enough as a runner that I needed to train the muscles on the back of my thigh, the hamstrings. But what about those stabilizing muscles on the side? Huh? What are those?!

The much underappreciated tensor fascia latae (TFL) and gluteus medius are key to hip and leg stability. If these muscles get ignored, the IT (iliotibial) band can get very tight very quick. The IT band is a thick band of fascia that originates from the TFL, the muscle coming off of the side of your hip, and inserts just below the knee. If the hip muscles are weak and the IT band tight, the IT band can pull the patella (knee cap) to the side, causing it to track improperly (patellofemoral syndrome) resulting in pain, degradation of the cartilage under the knee cap and in some cases, surgery. You can keep your knees, hips and IT band happy by using your Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls to perform self myofascial release in these areas, and tone your TFL and gluteus medius by performing the Yoga Tune Up® pose Abductor Lifts (shown below!). This pose, along with a regular yoga and running regime, keep me pain free!

Read about exercises that can help your hips.

Learn about our hip pain relief products.

Watch other hip stretch videos on YouTube.

Robyn Capobianco

Robyn Capobianco, M.A., E-RYT200, RYT500 teaches yoga out of a desire to help others feel empowered, strong and happy from the inside out. Robyn has been a student of yoga for over 15 years and started her formal teacher training in 2004. She has since completed multiple teacher trainings in Vinyasa, Anusara, yoga therapeutics and Yoga Tune Up® and attends multiple trainings and workshops with senior teachers each year. She is proud to be part of the Art of Yoga Project, which brings yoga to at-risk girls. Robyn is a wife, mother, marathon runner, Ironman triathlete and ambassador for Lululemon Athletica.

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Clarissa Stewart

I never thought of this before, my right knee has always given me trouble. I lift weights and run I’m very active but I am definitely going to start focusing on my adductors and abductors!

jennifer reuter

thank you for drawing the correlation between TFL, glute med and IT band… now there is more of a reason to keep the TFL and glute med strong

MISSY TILLMAN

This is so so true…i hear of so much knee pain (dancers, gymnasts, runners) that is a result of weak hip muscles and tight facia. The mal-tracking as a result of tight IT band for example is fascinating to me. I am so interested to learn more about this.

Melanie Blanchette

When we train, we too often think of strengthening only the muscles used and we forget to reinforce the antagonists too. The good health of the joints and the mobility depend a lot on a good muscular balance.