The information shared on this website is intended for educational purposes only. It does not constitute advice, medical or otherwise. If you are experiencing pain or suspect a health issue, it is recommended you speak to your physician or a licensed medical professional.
The Soleus is a flat, broad muscle that lies directly beneath the gastrocnemius. It attaches at the strong calcaneal tendon in the heel of the foot and on the head of the tibia and fibula just below the knee joint. Its primary function is to plantar flex the foot meaning to point your toes away from your body like when you stand on your toes or press the gas peddle of a car.
Walking on unsteady surfaces like sand, slippery floors, or sideways slanted hills can perpetuate stress and trigger points in the soleus muscle. More common though, are both overuse and leaving the soleus in a sortened position for long periods of time by doing things like sitting in a chair that is too high for your feet to be planted on the floor, wearing high heels, or sleeping with your toes pointed. Overuse can come from jogging or running too aggressively or with poor form.
Travell and Simons’ lists three common myofascial trigger points from the soleus that often manifest pain sensation, and one behind the knee in the Plantaris muscle (a tiny muscle in the back of the knee with an enormously long tendon connecting to the heel bone). Soleus has two trigger points pain referral areas at the heel end of the muscle and one on the outside of the leg just below the knee joint. Plantaris TrPs is located more in the middle of the back of the knee (where the muscle lives). Pain from Soleus usually ranges from the back of the knee, strongly down the middle calf region, through the ankle, and strongly into the entire heel of the foot. It can also refer pain up between the top of the buttocks and low back just on the side of the spine on the effected side.
The good news is that regular bodywork from a trained professional coupled with consistent at-home self stretching can help ease pain and/or tension in these muscles.