Soleus Muscle: Heel, Ankle, Calf, Knee, Low Back Pain

 What pain and symptoms are associated with the soleus muscle?

Areas of pain to which the soleus muscle may contribute.

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 often to the point of not being able to put weight on the heel
  • Pain in the ankle
  • Pain in the calf sometimes extending into the back of the knee
  • 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:

  • 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. If you are suffering from pain in the under eye, cheek and jaw area and cannot find relieve, you should consider examining the soleus muscle.

Clinical diagnoses to which the soleus muscle symptoms may contribute:

  • 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
  • Baker’s cyst
  • Ruptured Achilles tendon
  • Achilles tendinitis
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Plantars wart
  • Bone spur
  • Sciatica
  • Hip rotator dysfunction
  • Temporomandibular joint Dysfunction (TMD)


Soleus Muscle

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

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

Organ Systems Affected: Cardiovascular System

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

For detailed anatomy information: Soleus Anatomy

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 behind the knee, down the back of the leg continuing down 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 than warm therapy gels and creams for recent injury muscle pain as it cools the area much like ice and does not promote swelling. A recent study showed that Biofreeze decreased pain 2 times more than ice and the pain relief lasts 9 – 10 longer. If  your pain is from a recent calf injury I would recommend Biofreeze. This is excellent to use on sprain and strained ankles and knees.

Hot / Cold Wrap For Calf and Shin

Hot Cold Wrap for Shin Splints and Sore Shin Muscles If you have chronic pain from an old injury or participate in activities that strain the lower leg muscles the Thera Pearl Shin Hot & Cold Wrap  can be used to apply heat or as an ice pack. It is pliable and can be used on the shin or the calf. It has adjustable two Velcro band closures. 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 and swelling in the back of the calf.

Braces and Support For Lower Leg, and Ankle

calf-shin-wrapThe 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 including the soleus muscle. 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 soleus muscle affects and contributes to 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.

Calf Brace Neo G Medical Grade VCS Calf Support/Shin Splint The Neo G Calf Support / Shin Splint provides support and warmth to the lower leg muscles. This brace is recommended for Achilles tendon strain or sprain, and also strains, sprains and overuse injuries of the lower leg muscles which make it a great choice for soleus pain and discomfort.  If you suspect or have ever been diagnosed with blood clots consult your doctor before using this brace.

Compression for the Soleus Muscle Soreness, Injury, and Recovery

BeVisible Sports Men and Women Shin / Calf Compression Sleeve 81SzAcEW-zL A compression sleeve used by many athletes, the BeVisable Sports Calf / Shin Compression Sleeve provides compression, support, and warmth without adding bulk to the lower leg muscles. This sleeve is recommended by athletic trainers and shin splints and overuse injuries of the lower leg muscles. The sleeve is also great as a preventative measure against shin splints and tired sore calf muscles after sports activities.  Compression sleeves are also shown to reduce recovery time after strenuous activities and injury.  If you suspect or have ever been diagnosed with blood clots consult your doctor before using this brace.


Eurosocks Patented Recovery Graduated Compression Sock Over the calf graduated compression socks The graduated compression socks have become a go-to for both amateur and professional athletes for lower leg, ankle and foot injury recovery. Graduated compression helps relieve pain from muscle stiffness and soreness as well as discouraging inflammation.  The socks wicking fabric keeps skin dry and DryStat technology inhibits the growth of odor-causing microbes. The over the calf style works very well for soleus muscle recovery as the sock will cover the entire muscle. If you suspect or have been treated for blood clots, consult a doctor before using compression on the lower legs.

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

tiger-tail-18 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 soleus muscle to relieve tightness and pain in the calf.  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. Ove rolling can make the soreness worse. The Trigger Point Workbook can help you resolve muscle pain throughout your body.


Do you know that “knots” or other dysfunction 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 from unresolved lower leg, heel, and low back pain I highly recommend this book.  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.




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