Functional differentiation within the tensor fasciae latae. A telemetered electromyographic analysis of its locomotor roles

E. B. Pare, J. T. Stern, J. M. Schwartz

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Electromyograms recorded by three or four fine-wire bipolar electrodes inserted along a transverse line across the right tensor fasciae latae of ten normal adults (five men and five women, twenty to thirty-six years old) during a standardized series of exercises and locomotor activities demonstrated different functional roles for the anteromedial and posterolateral fibers of the muscle. Although anatomical dissections in six normal cadavera demonstrated that the force of contraction of the tensor fasciae latae could be transmitted to the knee by the iliotibial tract, the observed activity of this muscle can be explained completely in terms of its action at the hip. The anteromedial fibers have a greater mechanical advantage for hip flexion than do the posterolateral fibers, whereas the posterolateral fibers possess a better mechanical advantage for hip abduction and internal rotation. During walking the anteromedial fibers were electromyographically silent, whereas the posterolateral fibers were active near heel-strike. For all subjects, increased locomotor velocity (during jogging, running, and sprinting) was associated both with increased activity of the anteromedial fibers near toe-off apparently to assist deceleration of extension and acceleration of flexion of the thigh, and with increased activity of the posteriolateral fibers at heel-strike. Our anatomical observations indicate that the posterolateral internal rotator-abductor portion of the tensor fasciae latae can transmit force to the tibia, and our electromyographic studies demonstrated that these fibers are active at the appropriate time during the gait cycle for them to compensate for anterior cruciate ligament insufficiency after an Ellison procedure. However, it is not known whether the force generated in these fibers and transmitted through the iliotibial band is large enough to be a significant factor in the control of anterolateral instability of the knee.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1457-1471
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Bone and Joint Surgery - Series A
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1981
Externally publishedYes


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