Soleus muscle

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Soleus muscle
Illu lower extremity muscles.jpg
Muscles of lower extremity
The soleus muscle and surrounding structures, from Gray's Anatomy . This is a view of the back of the right leg; most of the gastrocnemius muscle has been removed.
Origin fibula, medial border of tibia (soleal line)
Insertion tendo calcaneus
Artery popliteal artery, posterior tibial artery, peroneal artery
Nerve tibial nerve, specifically, nerve roots L5–S2
Actions plantarflexion
Antagonist tibialis anterior
Latin Musculus soleus
TA98 A04.7.02.047
TA2 2660
FMA 22542
Anatomical terms of muscle

In humans and some other mammals, the soleus is a powerful muscle in the back part of the lower leg (the calf). It runs from just below the knee to the heel, and is involved in standing and walking. It is closely connected to the gastrocnemius muscle and some anatomists consider them to be a single muscle, the triceps surae. Its name is derived from the Latin word "solea", meaning "sandal".



The soleus is located in the superficial posterior compartment of the leg.

The soleus exhibits significant morphological differences across species. It is unipennate in many species. In some animals, such as the rabbit, it is fused for much of its length with the gastrocnemius muscle.

In humans, the soleus is a complex, multi-pennate muscle, usually having a separate (posterior) aponeurosis from the gastrocnemius muscle. A majority of soleus muscle fibers originate from each side of the anterior aponeurosis, attached to the tibia and fibula. [1] [2] Other fibers originate from the posterior (back) surfaces of the head of the fibula and its upper quarter, as well as the middle third of the medial border of the tibia.

The fibers originating from the anterior surface of the anterior aponeurosis insert onto the median septum and the fibers originating from the posterior surface of the anterior aponeurosis insert onto the posterior aponeurosis. [1] [2] The posterior aponeurosis and median septum join in the lower quarter of the muscle and then join with the anterior aponeuroses of the gastrocnemius muscles to form the calcaneal tendon or Achilles tendon and inserts onto the posterior surface of the calcaneus, or heel bone.

In contrast to some animals, the human soleus and gastrocnemius muscles are relatively separate, such that shear can be detected between the soleus and gastrocnemius aponeuroses. [3]

The Soleus is vestigial in the horse. [4]


The gastrocnemius muscle is superficial to (closer to the skin than) the soleus, which lies below the gastrocnemius.

The plantaris muscle and a portion of its tendon run between the two muscles. Deep to it (farther from the skin) is the transverse intermuscular septum, which separates the superficial posterior compartment of the leg from the deep posterior compartment.

On the other side of the fascia are the tibialis posterior muscle, the flexor digitorum longus muscle, and the flexor hallucis longus muscle, along with the posterior tibial artery and posterior tibial vein and the tibial nerve.

Since the anterior compartment of the leg is lateral to the tibia, the bulge of muscle medial to the tibia on the anterior side is actually the posterior compartment. The soleus is superficial middle of the tibia.


The action of the calf muscles, including the soleus, is plantarflexion of the foot (that is, they increase the angle between the foot and the leg). They are powerful muscles and are vital in walking, running, and keeping balance. The soleus specifically plays an important role in maintaining standing posture; if not for its constant pull, the body would fall forward.

Also, in upright posture, the soleus is responsible for pumping venous blood back into the heart from the periphery, and is often called the skeletal-muscle pump, peripheral heart or the sural (tricipital) pump. [5]

Soleus muscles have a higher proportion of slow muscle fibers than many other muscles. In some animals, such as the guinea pig and cat, soleus consists of 100% slow muscle fibers. [6] [7] Human soleus fiber composition is quite variable, containing between 60 and 100% slow fibers. [8]

The soleus is the most effective muscle for plantarflexion in a bent knee position (Hence called the first gear muscle). This is because the gastrocnemius originates on the femur, so bending the leg limits its effective tension. During regular movement (i.e., walking) the soleus is the primary muscle utilized for plantarflexion due to the slowtwitch fibers resisting fatigue. [9]


The Soleus is Innervated by the Tibial Nerve (L4, L5, S1, S2)

Clinical significance


Due to the thick fascia covering the muscles of the leg, they are prone to compartment syndrome. This pathology relates to the inflammation of tissue affecting blood flow and compressing nerves. If left untreated compartment syndrome can lead to atrophy of muscles, blood clots, and neuropathy. [10]

Additional images

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Human leg</span> Lower extremity or limb of the human body (foot, lower leg, thigh and hip)

The human leg, in the general word sense, is the entire lower limb of the human body, including the foot, thigh or sometimes even the hip or gluteal region. However, the definition in human anatomy refers only to the section of the lower limb extending from the knee to the ankle, also known as the crus or, especially in non-technical use, the shank. Legs are used for standing, and all forms of locomotion including recreational such as dancing, and constitute a significant portion of a person's mass. Female legs generally have greater hip anteversion and tibiofemoral angles, but shorter femur and tibial lengths than those in males.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Knee</span> Region around the kneecap

In humans and other primates, the knee joins the thigh with the leg and consists of two joints: one between the femur and tibia, and one between the femur and patella. It is the largest joint in the human body. The knee is a modified hinge joint, which permits flexion and extension as well as slight internal and external rotation. The knee is vulnerable to injury and to the development of osteoarthritis.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tibia</span> Shin bone

The tibia, also known as the shinbone or shankbone, is the larger, stronger, and anterior (frontal) of the two bones in the leg below the knee in vertebrates ; it connects the knee with the ankle. The tibia is found on the medial side of the leg next to the fibula and closer to the median plane. The tibia is connected to the fibula by the interosseous membrane of leg, forming a type of fibrous joint called a syndesmosis with very little movement. The tibia is named for the flute tibia. It is the second largest bone in the human body, after the femur. The leg bones are the strongest long bones as they support the rest of the body.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fibula</span> Leg bone on the lateral side of the tibia

The fibula or calf bone is a leg bone on the lateral side of the tibia, to which it is connected above and below. It is the smaller of the two bones and, in proportion to its length, the most slender of all the long bones. Its upper extremity is small, placed toward the back of the head of the tibia, below the knee joint and excluded from the formation of this joint. Its lower extremity inclines a little forward, so as to be on a plane anterior to that of the upper end; it projects below the tibia and forms the lateral part of the ankle joint.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Calcaneus</span> Bone of the tarsus of the foot

In humans and many other primates, the calcaneus or heel bone is a bone of the tarsus of the foot which constitutes the heel. In some other animals, it is the point of the hock.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Popliteal artery</span> Continuation of the femoral artery that supplies the lower leg

The popliteal artery is a deeply placed continuation of the femoral artery opening in the distal portion of the adductor magnus muscle. It courses through the popliteal fossa and ends at the lower border of the popliteus muscle, where it branches into the anterior and posterior tibial arteries.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tibialis anterior muscle</span> Flexor muscle in humans that dorsiflexes the foot

The tibialis anterior muscle is a muscle in humans that originates along the upper two-thirds of the lateral (outside) surface of the tibia and inserts into the medial cuneiform and first metatarsal bones of the foot. It acts to dorsiflex and invert the foot. This muscle is mostly located near the shin.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gastrocnemius muscle</span> Calf muscle

The gastrocnemius muscle is a superficial two-headed muscle that is in the back part of the lower leg of humans. It is located with the soleus in the posterior (back) compartment of the leg. It runs from its two heads just above the knee to the heel, a three joint muscle.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tibial nerve</span> Branch of the sciatic nerve

The tibial nerve is a branch of the sciatic nerve. The tibial nerve passes through the popliteal fossa to pass below the arch of soleus.

The biceps femoris is a muscle of the thigh located to the posterior, or back. As its name implies, it has two parts, one of which forms part of the hamstrings muscle group.

The semimembranosus muscle is the most medial of the three hamstring muscles in the thigh. It is so named because it has a flat tendon of origin. It lies posteromedially in the thigh, deep to the semitendinosus muscle. It extends the hip joint and flexes the knee joint.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Semitendinosus muscle</span> One of hamstring muscles; posterior part of the thigh

The semitendinosus is a long superficial muscle in the back of the thigh. It is so named because it has a very long tendon of insertion. It lies posteromedially in the thigh, superficial to the semimembranosus.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Flexor digitorum longus muscle</span> Muscle located on the tibial side of the leg

The flexor digitorum longus muscle is situated on the tibial side of the leg. At its origin it is thin and pointed, but it gradually increases in size as it descends. It serves to flex the second, third, fourth, and fifth toes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Popliteus muscle</span> Muscle responsible for unlocking the knees during walking

The popliteus muscle in the leg is used for unlocking the knees when walking, by laterally rotating the femur on the tibia during the closed chain portion of the gait cycle. In open chain movements, the popliteus muscle medially rotates the tibia on the femur. It is also used when sitting down and standing up. It is the only muscle in the posterior (back) compartment of the lower leg that acts just on the knee and not on the ankle. The gastrocnemius muscle acts on both joints.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Plantaris muscle</span> One of the superficial muscles of the superficial posterior compartment of the leg,

The plantaris is one of the superficial muscles of the superficial posterior compartment of the leg, one of the fascial compartments of the leg.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Adductor muscles of the hip</span> Group of muscles

The adductor muscles of the hip are a group of muscles mostly used for bringing the thighs together.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Patellar tendon</span> Tendon in the human knee

The patellar tendon is the distal portion of the common tendon of the quadriceps femoris, which is continued from the patella to the tibial tuberosity. It is also sometimes called the patellar ligament as it forms a bone to bone connection when the patella is fully ossified.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Deep fascia of leg</span> Forms a complete investment to the muscles

The deep fascia of leg, or crural fascia forms a complete investment to the muscles, and is fused with the periosteum over the subcutaneous surfaces of the bones.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vastus muscles</span> Human thigh muscles

The vastus muscles are three of the four muscles that make up the quadriceps femoris muscle of the thigh. The three muscles are the vastus intermedius, the vastus lateralis, and the vastus medialis located in the middle, on the outside, and inside of the thigh, respectively. The fourth muscle is the rectus femoris muscle a large fleshy muscle which covers the front and sides of the femur.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Medial knee injuries</span> Medical condition

Medial knee injuries are the most common type of knee injury. The medial ligament complex of the knee is composed of the superficial medial collateral ligament (sMCL), deep medial collateral ligament (dMCL), and the posterior oblique ligament (POL). These ligaments have also been called the medial collateral ligament (MCL), tibial collateral ligament, mid-third capsular ligament, and oblique fibers of the sMCL, respectively. This complex is the major stabilizer of the medial knee. Injuries to the medial side of the knee are most commonly isolated to these ligaments. A thorough understanding of the anatomy and function of the medial knee structures, along with a detailed history and physical exam, are imperative to diagnosing and treating these injuries.


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