+Donna Martin
Nov 072012

 What pain and symptoms are associated with the soleus muscle?

Pain Pattern of the Soleus Muscle

Pain in the heel, ankle, calf, and low back can be a sign of soleus muscle. A trigger point in this muscle can also contribute to TMJ type pain as well as pain on the side of the head.

  • Pain in the heel
  • Pain in the ankle
  • Pain in the calf
  • Deep aching in the back of the knee
  • Deep pain in the low back
  • Hypersensitivity to touch in the lower back
  • Poor circulation in the lower legs and feet
  • Pain in the jaw and on the side of the head

Where is the soleus muscle?

It attaches on the heads of both the large (tibia) and small (fibula) bones of the lower leg, traveling down the leg to join with the Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon continues down the back of the leg to connect to the heel bone.

What movements does the soleus control?

  • Standing on your toes
  • Pointing your toes

Activities that cause soleus muscle pain and symptoms:

The soleus muscle is a deep muscle of the lower leg.

You use the soleus muscle when you stand on your toes and point your toes.

  • Walking uphill
  • Climbing
  • Climbing stairs
  • Cycling
  • Jumping
  • Wearing high heels
  • Using footstools and recliners that put pressure on the back of the calves
  • Immobility of the lower leg due to a cast or brace

Interesting facts about the soleus muscle:

  • The soleus is sometimes called the second heart because it helps pump blood up from the feet and lower leg.
  • A trigger point in the soleus muscle can cause jaw pain and pain on the side of the face  and head.

Clinical diagnoses to which this muscle symptoms may contribute:

Sciatica, Hip rotator dysfunction, Peripheral vascular disease (PVD), Thrombophlebitis, Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), Superficial vascular thrombosis (SVT), Varicose veins, Nocturnal cramping, Tennis leg, Post exercise soreness, Posterior compartment syndrome, Buckling knee syndrome, Dislocation/Subluxation of knee, Heel spur, Posteromedial Shin splint, Bruised periosteum of the tibia, muscle strain, Popliteal (Baker’s) cyst, Rupture Achilles tendon, Achilles tendinitis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Retrocalcaneal bursitis, Plantar fasciitis, Plantars wart, Bone spur, Temporomandibular joint Dysfunction (TMD)

Other muscles that should be considered and examined in conjunction with the soleus muscles:

  • Quadratus Plantae

Help with Soleus Muscle Pain

Sombra Warm Therapy Gel provides pain relief.
Warm Therapy Gel for Sore  Lower Leg Muscles and Chronic Knee and Ankle Pain and Stiffness

Sombra Warm Therapy Pain Relieving Gel
is a pain relieving gel that I use both personally and in my massage therapy practice. It provides warmth without burning heat and is great for relieving pain.  Applying Sombra to the muscles on the back of the leg, and down to and around the heel can help reduce pain and tightness caused by the soleus muscle. I recommend Sombra for chronic pain and pain from arthritis.

Cold Therapy Gel For Lower Leg, Knee and Ankle Injury and Inflammation

Biofreeze is recommended for recent muscle injury

Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel is an excellent pain relieving gel and I recommend it for those who have sudden onset muscle pain or recent injuries.  It is better to use than warm therapy gels and creams for muscle pain caused by inflammation as it cools the area much like ice. If  your pain is from a recent injury I would recommend Biofreeze.

Hot / Cold Wrap For Calf and Shin

Multipurpose Hot & Cold Wrap - Works on your Calf

If you have chronic pain from an old injury or participate in activities that strain the lower leg muscles the Multipurpose Hot & Cold Wrap  can be used to apply heat or as an ice pack. It works on the shin or the calf wrapping around the leg with a Velcro closure. The packs can be stored in the freezer for cold therapy or popped in the microwave for heat. Use this on the soleus muscle to ease pain in the back of the knee, lower leg, ankle and foot.

Purchase Information: Multipurpose Hot & Cold Wrap

Braces and Support For Knee,  Lower Leg, and Ankle


The The Shock Doctor Calf Shin Wrap is an adjustable wrap that provides support for the low leg muscles. It can be used for shin splints as well as sore strained or sprained calf muscles. Provides compression as well as heat to help relax the muscle and improve mobility. Use this brace if you need more support after injury or need adjustable compression or tightness  for chronic pain support.  If you suspect or have ever been treated for blood clots consult your doctor before using compression or supports on your legs!

ASO Ankle Brace

ASO Stabilizing Ankle Brace is highly recommended by two of my colleagues, a chiropractor and a physical therapist for support for the Achilles tendon and ankle. Injury to the tibialis posterior muscle can often cause pain in the Achilles tendon area, the ankle and heel. The ASO Ankle Support provides adjustable support which will help with ankle weakness and pain. Sizes are: x-small – 10”-11”, small – 11”-12”, medium – 12”-13”, large – 13”-14”, x-large – 14”-15”, xx-large – 15”-16” . To ensure that you order the right size, measure your foot from the back of the heel, around both ankle bones to the bend between the leg and foot.

Professional’s Choice Miracle Knee Support

The soleus muscle can contribute to stiff knees and knee pain. The Professional Choice Knee Support is one of the best knee braces I have used. It provides support to weak buckling knees and provides heat to help keep the muscle, ligaments, tendons and joint mobile. The two Velcro bands are adjustable and provide compression for the muscle to bone connection of the soleus muscle.  Although it looks bulky, it is comfortable and was made for people who ride horses who bend and straighten their knees for extended periods of time. It does not bind or pinch. If you are prone to knee injury and buckling knees I highly recommend this brace. Purchase Information:  Professional’s Choice Miracle Knee Support

Back on Track Therapeutic Calf Brace – $31.00

A brace used by many athletes, the Back on Track Calf Brace provides support and warmth to the lower leg muscles. This brace is recommended for achilles tendon strain or sprain, and strain, sprains and overuse injuries of the lower leg muscles. If you suspect or have ever been diagnosed with blood clots consult your doctor before using this brace.


Therapy Tools And Information For Self  Treatment Of Lower Leg Muscle Pain


I recommend the  Tiger Tail 18″ Roller to use on both upper and lower leg muscles to help relieve tension and pain. I like the Tiger Tail for its ease of use and because it does not strain the wrists and hands. You do not have to contort into different positions or get on the floor or up against the wall to use this foam roller, simply roll it up or down the muscle. The 18″ is a good size to use on leg muscles as well as other muscles. The Tiger Tail is also recommended by physical therapists, athletic trainers and doctors for self treatment of muscles in between appointments. It works well on the IT band and TFL muscle to relieve tightness and pain. Start the roller at the bottom of the back of the lower leg and roll up toward the back of the knee. (Do not use on the area behind the knee!) Be sure to work the full muscle, going up the middle of the leg as well as the sides. Start off light, with just a few strokes, stop and wait a few hours to see how the muscle and soft tissue react. Over doing rolling can make the soreness worse.

The Trigger Point Workbook can help you resolve muscle pain throughout your body.

Do you know that a knot in the soleus muscle can cause jaw pain and headaches as well as lower leg and back pain?

If you have any of these symptoms  I  recommend that you purchase Claire Davies  The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. Mr. Davies explain the trigger point phenomenon and muscle pain in everyday language.  But what makes this book worth its weight in gold are the individual muscle trigger point treatments that Davies has compiled.His diagrams and step by step instructions help you locate which muscles are contributing to your pain,  how to find the trigger point and treat it. He also provides stretching and strengthening exercises for each muscle. If you suffer with unresolved lower leg, heel, and low back pain I highly recommend this book. If you have unresolved jaw pain and headaches you may want to learn about the trigger point in the soleus muscle connected to these symptoms.  It takes time and practice to master finding trigger points, but once you learn you have a tool and method to help relieve muscle pain throughout the body. Relieving trigger points in the soleus muscles may help you resolve some of your pain issues. This book is a must have for anyone interested in finding the cause and treating muscle pain.

Anatomy Study: Origin, Insertion, Action and Innervation of the Soleus Muscle

Origin: Posterior surface of the head and proximal quarter of the shaft of the fibula, spanning over to the soleal line and the middle third of the medial border of the tibia, and a fibrous band, which arches over the popliteal vessels and tibial nerve, between the tibia and fibula
Insertion: Joins with the tendon of the gastrocnemius to form the tendo calcaneus to attach to the middle of three facets on the posterior surface of the calcaneus. The muscle is covered proximally by gastrocnemius and is accessible on both sides.
Actions: Plantarflexion of the foot at the ankle
Innervation: Tibial nerve (S1 – 2 )

Primary Actions:

1. Plantarflexion of the foot at the ankle

  • Agonists: Gastrocnemius
  • Antagonists: Tibialis Anterior

Satellite Trigger Points: Gastrocnemius , Quadriceps, Tibialis posterior, extensor digitorum longus, Peroneus tertius, Extensor hallucis longus

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