How do I do the TFL (tensor fascia lata) and quadriceps stretch?


  1. Kneel with front leg bent at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Externally rotate back leg.


  1. Draw belly button inward.
  2. Squeeze buttocks, while rotating pelvis posteriorly.
  3. Slowly, move body forward until a mild tension is achieved in the front of the hip being stretched.
  4. Raise stretch side arm up and over to the opposite side, while maintaining pelvic position.
  5. Hold side bend position and slowly rotate backward.
  6. Hold for 30 seconds.
  7. Switch sides and repeat.
Rick Olderman
Physical Therapy
To do the TFL (tensor fascia lata) and Quadriceps Stretch Level 1, lie on your back with both knees drawn to your chest. Hold your left knee with your left hand and arm. Place your right hand on the bony prominence (anterior superior iliac spine or ASIS) of your right pelvis. Slowly lower your right leg to the table with your right knee bent. Then, slide your right foot away from you as you straighten your right knee. Stop if your spine arches off the table or your pelvis rotates forward, away from the table and into your right hand. See if you can keep your back flat and your pelvis from rotating while the entire right leg rests on the table. Pull your left knee into your chest with more force if necessary to help you control your spine. Note whether you feel a gentle stretch in your upper thigh close to the hip bone or in your mid or lower thigh muscles. Hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds and switch legs. Adding a 5- to 10-pound weight to your right thigh near your knee may increase your stretch, but only add the weight if you can maintain a flat back without rocking your pelvis forward.

If you have difficulty performing this exercise, remain at Level 1 until your abdominals are strong enough to stabilize your pelvis and back adequately, or until you can easily keep your leg straight on the floor with your lower spine flat without feeling a stretch in the front of your thighs in either leg. At this point, you can move to Level 2.

Slowly lower your right leg as in Level 1, but now keep your knee bent at 90 degrees while your leg lowers off the edge of a support structure, such as a table or bed. Many of my clients use a countertop, dining room table, or the top of a staircase, or they place a board under them while performing at the edge of their bed. Monitor your right hip bone with your fingers as in Level 1. Stop if you feel your hip bone begin to rotate forward, if your lower back begins to arch off the table, or if pain results. Contract your abdominal muscles to prevent your pelvis from rolling forward as you lower your leg down, feeling for a stretch at the base of the hip bone you are monitoring and/or in your upper thigh. Feel your leg gradually lower as the muscles lengthen against the stabilized pelvis. Exhale forcefully to assist your lower abdominals in stabilizing your lumbar spine. Stop if you cannot stabilize your lumbar spine against the lowering leg. Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Fixing You: Back Pain: Self-Treatment for Sciatica, Bulging and Herniated Disks, Stenosis, Degenerative Disks, and other diagnoses.

More About this Book

Fixing You: Back Pain: Self-Treatment for Sciatica, Bulging and Herniated Disks, Stenosis, Degenerative Disks, and other diagnoses.

Back pain is often due to larger problems, such as poor walking habits or pelvic muscle tightness , that create vulnerabilities in the spine. This is why most people have trouble fixing their...

Continue Learning about Flexibility Training

What You Can Do to Protect Your Metabolic Flexibility
What You Can Do to Protect Your Metabolic Flexibility
You already know that sitting too much is one of the worst things you can do to your health. Around 50 million of you are profoundly sedentary. Sittin...
Read More
Is it possible to stretch too much before a track workout or competition?
National Academy of Sports MedicineNational Academy of Sports Medicine
The goals for warming up and stretching are to help the body compete better and diminish the cha...
More Answers
When should I do flexibility exercises?
Jara Soost , NASM Elite TrainerJara Soost , NASM Elite Trainer
Flexibility is an important part of good overall health. If you are looking to gain active range of ...
More Answers
To What Degree Do I Need to Exercise to Improve My Health?
To What Degree Do I Need to Exercise to Improve My Health?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.