The plantaris muscle is a small muscle behind the knee. Trigger points in the muscle contribute to pain in the back of the knee.

Contents of Article

    Where Is The Plantaris Muscle?

    Plantaris Muscle Showing Trigger Point Location

    The plantaris muscle is found behind the knee. The muscle belly itself is small, about the size and length of your index finger. The muscle blends into the plantaris tendon which descends the leg to connect to the heel bone (calcaneus).

    What Movements Does It Control?

    • It helps to bend the knee
    • It helps to point the foot and toes downward

    For detailed anatomy information:  Plantaris Muscle Anatomy


    Plantaris Muscle Trigger Points Symptoms:

    Plantaris Pain Pattern
    • Pain behind the knee
    • Pain will sometimes extend down into the calf
    • Is sometimes involved in cramps in the calf

    What Causes Plantaris Trigger Points To Develop?

    • Any activity in which the knee is straight while the ankle is simultaneously bent up toward the shin
    • Running
    • Pedaling a bike
    • While going downstairs, you miss a stair landing with the ankle bent and the knee straightened to the extreme.

    Plantaris Trigger Point Treatment

    When dealing with knee pain, one of the first treatments many consider is a knee brace. While a brace may help with other types of knee injury and chronic pain, a brace or wrapping is usually NOT recommended for muscle pain behind the knee. Do not wrap or use a brace unless it is recommended by a medical professional.

    The plantaris muscle is easy to treat though you must not press on blood vessels and lymph nodes behind the knee. If you are interested in learning how to treat plantaris trigger points, The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook will provide guidance. The book provides instructions and diagrams that will help you locate and treat the trigger point.

    If you are not comfortable doing self-treatment, find a massage therapist, chiropractor, or physical therapist to walk you through finding the TrP and treatment.

    Plantaris trigger points respond best to 2-4 treatments spread throughout the day. Continue treatments until the area does not produce pain or symptoms when pressure is applied.

    Sombra Warm Therapy Gel is recommended for relaxing muscles and relieving pain. It warms without the burning heat of other gels. An excellent choice for pain caused by trigger points, muscle/joint over-use and stiffness, and arthritis. If you have reoccurring leg or foot cramps, you should keep Somba on hand; it provides almost instant relief. (Not sold in stores)

    Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel is an excellent pain-relieving gel recommend 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, use Biofreeze. It is excellent to use on sprains, strained and sore ankles.

    How Long Before I Feel A Reduction In Pain?

    The good news is that you will begin feeling relief quickly. Treat the trigger point 2-3 times throughout the day for 1-2 minutes each treatment. If the back of the knee begins to feel sore, decrease the pressure, and treat twice a day, morning and night.

    Keep in mind; you need to continue treating the trigger point until you do not feel the knot and the area is not painful when pressure is applied.

    Interesting facts:

    • The plantaris is sometimes called the mini-gastrocnemius due to the common attachment to the thigh bone (femur).
    • The plantaris muscle is missing in approximately 10% of the population.

    Plantaris muscle pain and symptoms can be similar to, contribute to, and be affected by these medical diagnoses:

    • Popliteus tendinitis
    • Popliteal artery aneurysm
    • Avulsion of popliteus tendon
    • Rupture of plantaris tendon
    • Baker’s cyst
    • Deep Vein Thrombosis
    • Peripheral Vascular Disease
    • Posterior compartment syndrome
    • S1 or S2 Radiculopathy


    Other muscles that should be considered and examined:

    TWD Recommends

    Massage balls can be used to relieve tension in many areas of the body and are exceptionally effective for lower leg and foot pain. The Flex Fixx Massage Ball Set includes a smooth ball and two spiked balls, which will give you maximum treatment for various aches and pains in your feet. The balls are sturdy and can deliver very firm pressure. The set comes with instructions and exercises. Rolling your feet takes just a few minutes each day and can provide excellent results for both foot and lower leg pain.

    Muscles With Similar Pain Patterns

    Popliteus Muscle
    Soleus Muscle