Two Small Hip Muscles That Causes Knee and Ankle Pain

by Julie Donnelly

It’s true, you can feel pain all the way down to your ankle because two muscles in your hip are tight. Your tensor fascia lata (TFL for short), which is on the outside of your hip, and the gluteus minimus which is directly underneath the TFL are the source of this pain, and they are both normally ignored when a person is trying to find the answer to hip/knee/ankle pain.

Your gluteus minimus originates on your pelvis and inserts into the top of your thigh bone, and your TFL merges into your iliotibial band (ITB for short). Your ITB then inserts into just below the outside of your knee joint. When your gluteus minimus muscle is tight it is pulling your thigh bone and pelvis toward each other, causing hip pain. When the TFL muscle is in spasm it is pulling hard on your ITB and you feel pain at the insertion point on the outside of your knee.

The analogy I always use to demonstrate this situation is, pull your hair at the end and you will feel the pain at your scalp, plus if you run your fingers along your hair, it will be taut. It is the same with the muscle-tendon-bone. As the muscle is tightening it causes the tendon to tighten, and you feel it at the insertion point which is usually at a joint.

In the case of the TFL, it compounds because as your ITB is pulling on your knee joint, and it causes a slender muscle called the peroneals to go into a spasm. Your peroneals originate along the very outside of your lower leg, then the tendon goes behind your ankle and inserts into your foot on both the outside and inside borders. You feel the pain in your hip from your gluteus minimus. The pain in your hip to your knee is because of your TFL and ITB, and you feel the pain to your outside ankle, and even into your arch, because of your peroneals. Also, since your gluteus minimus is pulling your pelvis and thigh bone close together it is causing a misalignment of your knee joint, which is then also impacting your peroneals.

It gets a bit complicated, especially if you haven’t done an internet search to take a look at the muscles, but suffice to say, these two muscles are causing all of the problems and they are very easy to treat.

The “tools” for working on these muscles are just a ball and your opposite heel. The Julstro Pink ball is perfect for this treatment, or you can use a new tennis ball. It couldn’t be easier. All you need to do is lie on your side, pressing into the ball, and then run the heel of your opposite foot down the outside of your lower leg. You’ll be amazed how quickly the pain will disappear as you self-treat these muscles, and you’ll vow to never be in pain again!

If you feel pain, you’ve hit a spasm. Keep the pressure on the spasm for about 30-60 seconds, until it releases.