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Do side lunges to avoid potential lateral knee pain.
The tensor fasciae latae is an important muscle that helps with hip flexion, abduction of the thigh and medial rotation of the knee. In layman's terms, this means the TFL helps lift your knee up to your waist, lift your leg away from your body and/or turn your knee inward. Side lunges are an appropriate way to keep this muscle flexible and strong.
The TFL attaches to your lower pelvic bone and inserts into the iliotibial band (ITB), which is a strip of fascia running on the outside of your leg inserting into your knee. As it aids in flexion, abduction and rotation, the TFL helps maintain stability to your knee while performing physical activity (horseback riding, running, skiing or walking, to name a few). If it is imbalanced from improper use or inadequate stretching, it can wreak havoc on your body, affecting the function of other nearby muscles.
Benefits of Side Lunges
It is important to address the body as a whole when doing any exercise because muscles are not isolated when it comes to their actions. Side lunges are effective at keeping the TFL toned, flexible and strong because lunges address the actions of the TFL as well as other neighboring muscles. These lunges work your glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors and ITB in conjunction with your TFL to keep your knees and pelvis stable, thereby avoiding strain and injury to the body.
Start in a standing position. Step one of your feet straight out to the side of your body. Make sure that you are positioned far enough so that you knee is bent at a 90-degree angle. As your other leg fully elongates, contract your trunk by pulling your belly button into your spine, resting your hands on your hips. Hold for several breaths, maintaining a stable core. By pushing off of your starting leg, return to standing position in a single fluid movement. Repeat with your other leg, also holding the pose for several breaths. Repeat these lunges up to three times.
As with any exercise, there are precautions to take to maximize benefits and avoid unnecessary strain. Do not bend from your waist while lunging; you want to keep the weight on the muscles you are stretching. If you need to lean forward, do so for balance. Upon returning to your standing position, make sure to push from your heels and not your toes. Be careful not to put too much weight on your knees.