In a previous column, I addressed soft tissue mobilization of the TFL via foam rolling. Following foam rolling, I suggest incorporating stretching to improve TFL mobility. Eliminating tightness in the TFL can reduce tension in the IT band as well as reduce knee pain associated with Runner’s knee or patellofemoral pain syndrome.
Execution: Begin standing perpendicular to a wall with the feet together. Stand far enough away from the wall so the left outstretched arm (palm facing out) is 6-12 inches away from the wall. Slowly lean into the wall until the left hand is flat against the wall with the arm supporting the body. Next, cross the right leg over the left. This positions the left hip in adduction. Now, slowly push the left hip in a forward diagonal plane to extend the hip. Be careful not to hyperextend the lumbar spine. It may help to lightly squeeze the left flute as well in order to accentuate the stretch. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.
Application: The standing stretch allows for stability and leverage using the body weight to achieve a deep stretch of the TFL. Using a wall allows for a more controlled, balanced stretch that can also be done outdoors prior to or after a run.
Additional Notes: While I generally prefer to begin training sessions with foam rolling and stretching, this stretch can also be done post-workout or following a run. However, if soft tissue restriction, trigger points and limited mobility is the primary concern, I suggest addressing it before commencing with training/running in order to promote optimal tissue length and reduce synergistic dominance over the gluteus medius.