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

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 when bending the ankle downward
  • 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 on the same side of affected side
  • Hypersensitivity to touch in the lower back on the same side of affected side
  • Poor circulation in the lower legs and feet
  • Swelling in the ankle and foot
  • Pain in the jaw and on the side of the head

Where is the soleus muscle?

It attaches to the large bone in the shin (tibia) and to the head of the small bone (fibula) also in the lower leg. It travels down the back of leg to join with the Achilles’ tendon. The Achilles’ tendon continues down  to connect to the heel bone (calcaneus).

What movements does the soleus control?

  • Bends the ankle downward
  • 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.
Soleus Muscle

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

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)

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

Associated Organ Systems: Cardiovascular System

Satellite Trigger Points: Gastrocnemius, Quadriceps, Tibialis Posterior, Extensor Digitorum Longus, Peroneus Tertius, Extensor Hallucis Longus


Help with Soleus Muscle Injury and Pain

Cold Therapy Gel For Calf, Knee, Ankle Injury and Inflammation

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. Rub the gel behind the knee, down the back of the leg, around the ankle and heel for soleus muscle pain.
Biofreeze is recommended for pain due to soleus muscle injury

Warm Therapy Gel for Lower Leg, 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.
Sombra Warm Therapy Gel provides pain relief.

Hot Cold Pack For Lower Leg Treatment

CorPak Soft Comfort Hot & Cold Pack Wrap 10" x 13" is a versatile pack that can be used to treat the lower leg, foot / ankle, as well as other areas of the body. The pack is filled with pliable gel and has a soft frost free cover that will not irritate your skin. For recent injuries, use it cold to reduce swelling. For older injures or chronic pain use heat to relax the muscles and increase circulation. The large size allows for total treatment of the soleus muscle.
Corpak Hot Cold Pack Wrap is excellent to treat the soleus muscle

Braces and Support For Soleus Lower Leg, and Ankle Injury and Pain

Support Brace For Soleus Muscle

Neo G Medical Grade VCS Calf Support/Shin Splint provides support and warmth to the lower leg muscles. This adjustable brace is recommended for Achilles tendon strain or sprain, and strains, sprains and overuse injuries of the lower leg muscles. It is 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.
Calf Brace

Lower Leg Compression Sleeves

Lower Leg Compression Sleeves are used by many athletes. Compression sleeves provide compression, support and warmth without adding bulk to the lower leg muscles. Sleeves are recommended by athletic trainers for shin splints as well as injured and sore overused calf muscles. Sleeves are also great as a preventative measure against shin splints and aching 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 compression sleeves or braces.

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Over The Calf Compression Socks For Complete Soleus Muscle Support

The Eurosocks Over The Calf 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 wickable 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 with a doctor before using compression on the lower legs.
Over the calf graduated compression socks for soleus muscle support

Self Treatment Tools for Soleus Muscle Dysfunction

Tiger Foam Roller for Lower Leg Muscles

I recommend the 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 uncomfortable positions, 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 of the body. 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. Over doing rolling can make the pain and soreness worse.

tiger-tail-18

Stretch The Calf and Foot Muscles To Relieve Calf, Heel and Foot Pain

Medi-Dyne Pro Stretch for Plantar Fascitis and Calf Pain is a device that provides a deep stretch to the foot and lower leg muscles. This device is used in many physical therapists offices and rehab facilities for those who have lower leg pain and cramps and for those who suffer from plantar fasciitis. When you first use the Pro Stretch be sure to start off slowly, 5 to 10 seconds per stretch, gradually building up reps and longer stretch times.

Pro Stretch for soleus muscle pain

Self Treatment Techniques For Soleus Muscle Calf Pain

Do you know that “knots” or other dysfunction in the soleus muscle can cause jaw pain and headaches as well as lower leg and low 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 explains 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. 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.
The Trigger Point Workbook can help you resolve muscle pain throughout your body.

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