Connection lost. Please refresh the page.
Get help How to study Login Register
Ready to learn?
Pick your favorite study tool

Soleus muscle

Recommended video: Soleus muscle (3D) [05:38]
Anatomy and functions of the soleus muscle shown with 3D model animation.

The soleus muscle is a wide flat leg muscle found on the posterior leg. It runs from just below the knee to the heel and lays immediately deep to the gastrocnemius. These two muscles, along with the plantaris muscle, belong to the group of superficial posterior compartment calf muscles. Soleus’ contraction results in strong plantar flexion. It also allows us to maintain an upright posture due to its important role as an antigravity muscle.

Together with the gastrocnemius, they form the three-headed group of muscles referred to as the triceps surae. They both insert on the calcaneus via the calcaneal tendon and act in many basic activities, such as walking, running, and leaping. The size and shape of the triceps surae muscle bellies determine the interindividual differences of human calves’ appearance - from slim to rather robust. This article will outline the morphology of the soleus muscle, as well as its functional and clinical anatomy

Key facts about the soleus muscle
Origin Soleal line, medial border of tibia, head of fibula, posterior border of fibula
Insertion Posterior surface of calcaneus (via calcaneal tendon)
Innervation Tibial nerve (S1, S2)
Vascularization Posterior tibial artery and vein
Function Talocrural joint: Foot plantar flexion
Clinical relations Soleus tear, soleus pain
Mnemonic Stand on your Soles. Gas explodes!
(refers to the functions of posterior leg muscles; Soleis is for posture, while Gastrocnemius is for explosive movements)
  1. Origin and insertion
  2. Innervation and blood supply
  3. Function
  4. Soleus tear 
  5. Soleus pain
  6. Sources
+ Show all

Origin and insertion

The soleus muscle arises from the soleal line on the dorsal surface of the tibia, medial border of the tibia, head of the fibula, and posterior border of the fibula. Part of the fibers arises from the tendinous arch of the soleus, which spans between the tibia and fibula and arches over the popliteal vessels and tibial nerve.

The soleus muscle runs along the gastrocnemius muscle and together they insert onto the posterior surface of the calcaneus via the calcaneal tendon. The calcaneal tendon, commonly called the Achilles tendon, is the strongest tendon of the human body. It is easily visible and palpable at the heel.

Why not make your studies easier with our lower limb muscle chart? These revision tables verified by experts will teach you everything you need to know about the attachments, innervations and functions of the lower extremity muscles.

Learn more about the leg muscles with our learning materials in the following study unit!

Innervation and blood supply

The soleus is innervated by the anterior rami of S1 and S2 spinal nerves, carried by the tibial nerve into the posterior compartment of the leg. Blood supply is provided by two main branches. The superior branch arises from the popliteal artery while the inferior branch arises from peroneal artery (fibular artery) or the posterior tibial artery. The peroneal and posterior tibial arteries are direct branches of the popliteal artery and arise in the popliteal fossa. Minor accessory arteries may also branch off the peroneal, posterior tibial and lateral sural arteries. 

A clinically important venous plexus is present in the soleus muscle belly. Physiologically it contributes to the muscle pump of the lower extremity. In pathological circumstances, such as thrombophilia, it constitutes a common site of onset of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Veins follow the arteries of the same name into the popliteal vein.

Learn more about the leg and knee neurovasculature here and test your knowledge with a quiz!


The soleus’ function is closely related to that of the gastrocnemius muscle. Together, they constitute a chief plantar flexor - their contraction results in the plantar flexion of the upper ankle joint, enabling the lifting of the heel against gravity when walking or jumping. The soleus muscle belongs to the group of so-called antigravity muscles (along with the extensors of the leg, gluteus maximus and back muscles), which maintain the upright posture in humans. 

As the body's center of gravity is anterior to the ankle joint, the body has a natural tendency to lean forward. This is counteracted by a continuous state of plantar flexion produced mainly by the soleus when standing. For this reason, the soleus consists mostly of type 1 slow, fatigue-resistant fibers. The gastrocnemius muscle is more involved in locomotion where it contributes slightly to the flexion of the knee as it crosses multiple joints. When the knee is flexed, plantar flexion attributes of the gastrocnemius are very limited, making the soleus the main muscle responsible for plantar flexion.

Now it is time to test what you've learned about the soleus and other muscles of the leg with out tailored quiz.

Shorten you studying time with Kenhub 3D muscle anatomy videos! With our videos, you will get to enjoy one of the most detailed 3D models available, designed by a skilled team of anatomy experts and talented 3D artists.

Soleus muscle: want to learn more about it?

Our engaging videos, interactive quizzes, in-depth articles and HD atlas are here to get you top results faster.

What do you prefer to learn with?

“I would honestly say that Kenhub cut my study time in half.” – Read more.

Kim Bengochea Kim Bengochea, Regis University, Denver
© Unless stated otherwise, all content, including illustrations are exclusive property of Kenhub GmbH, and are protected by German and international copyright laws. All rights reserved.

Register now and grab your free ultimate anatomy study guide!