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Plantaris – Pain & Trigger Points

The plantaris is a small muscle in the area of the hollow of the knee. If it is tense or carries trigger points, it can cause pain in the area of the hollow of the knee and in the calf.

With a self-massage you can free it from tensions and trigger points and get rid of pain caused by this muscle.

On this page you will learn …

  • what kind of ailments this muscle can cause.
  • where it is located.
  • which functions it provides.
  • for which reasons it gets overloaded.
  • how to massage it.

1. Pain Patterns

Trigger points in the plantaris can cause pain in the hollow of the knee and in the calf.

In some cases pain even occurs in the area of the big toe (not shown).

2. Origin & Insertion

In simple terms, the plantaris runs down from the lateral side of the knee to the heel.

However, its muscle head only reaches as far as a few centimetres into the knee and then merges into a long tendon, which extends down to the heel.

Origin:

  • Linea supracondylaris lateralis

Approach:

  • Calcaneus/heel bone

Innervation:

  • The muscle is innervated by the nervus tibialis.

3. Function

The main function of the muscle is plantarflexion and inversion of your ankle joint. During plantarflexion, you move the ball of your foot downwards, and during inversion, you tilt the inner edge of your foot towards the midline of the body.

In addition, the muscle also performs a knee flexion, but only under additional load.

1

Plantarflexion

2

Inversion & Supination

3

Knee flexion

4. Plantaris – Trigger Point Activation

Trigger points in the plantaris especially arise when it is stretched quickly and strongly.

This happens when the knee and ankle joint are stretched quickly at the same time. In everyday life, this occurs when you step unprepared into a hole, for example while walking.

In general, this muscle is overloaded by the same factors as the soleus, which is why I would like to refer you to its page, too.

5. Palpation

Feeling this muscle and distinguishing it from the surrounding muscles is very difficult and not absolutely necessary for the massage.

You “only” need to know where and how to place your hand in order to perform the massage. And that’s exactly what you’ll learn in the next chapter.

6. Self-massage of the Plantaris

For the massage you need nothing more than your hands. As a massage technique, I recommend the precise massage strokes.

  • Grasp the lower leg with your hands and place your thumbs next to each other.
  • Place the thumbs as high up as possible on your lower leg and in the lateral area of the calf.
  • Press your thumbs forward in the direction of the shinbone and stroke the muscle a few times. This way you are looking for painful tensions.
  • You only move the skin over the muscle, but do not slide the thumbs over the skin.
  • Massage each tension with some strokes.

Tips:

  • I recommend that you wear shorts or at least thin trousers for the massage. This way you get better access to the muscle.
  • You’re massaging here in a very sensitive area of your body. So take your time. Therefore, start the massage carefully, do not apply high pressure or hard massage aids.

Take your time!

It is best to start with short massage sessions and gradually (for weeks) increase the duration and pressure of the massage. Thus the reactions of your body to the massage are less intense and you don‘t risk to irritate your nervous system too much.

References

  • Calais-German, Blandine. Anatomy of Movement. Seattle: Eastland Press, 1993. Print
  • Davies, Clair, and Davies, Amber. The Trigger Point Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide For Pain Relief. Oakland: New Harbinger Publications, Inc., Print
  • Simons, David G., Lois S. Simons, and Janet G. Travell. Travell & Simons‘ Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual. The Lower Extremities. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins, 1993. Print.
  • Schünke, Michael., Schulte, Erik, and Schumacher, Udo. Prometheus: Lernatlas der Anatomie. Stuttgart/New York: Georg Thieme Verlag, 2007. Print