Soleus is a muscle located at the front of your thigh. It is one of the most common muscles in the body. You may have heard about it before, but never really paid attention to it until now. The soleus muscle plays an important role in running, jumping and other sports involving running or jumping movements. In fact, if you are not aware of its importance then you probably will be after reading this article!
The Soleus Muscle: What Is Its Function?
The soleus muscle is a large group of muscles located just behind the knee joint. It consists of three main parts: the gastrocnemius, soleus and semimembranosus muscles. These muscles work together to stabilize your foot during movement such as running, jumping or even walking. They also play an important role in balancing your weight when standing up straight while sitting down.
When you run or jump, these muscles contract causing a force called “adduction” which pushes your leg forward. When you bend your knee, the opposite happens and the same thing occurs with bending your ankle.
This causes a force called “extension.”
What Causes Soleus Injury?
If you don’t train properly, then there is a high chance that you will injure yourself due to improper form. If you do something incorrectly, then it’s very likely that you’ll hurt yourself. You can also hurt yourself if you push yourself beyond your fitness level.
Proper stretching is also very important. If you don’t stretch before and after an activity, there’s a greater chance that you’ll get injured.
There are also some other factors that can contribute to a muscle injury such as weak core muscles, tight hip flexors and tight calves. All of these can put extra strain on the soleus muscle causing pain and discomfort.
If you feel any type of pain or unusual sensations, it’s very important that you stop what you’re doing and seek medical attention. Ignoring the pain can put your body in a worse position making the injury even worse.
How Can I Prevent Soleus Injury?
There are several ways to prevent a soleus injury such as the following:
Warm up properly before doing any physical activity or sports.
Stretching properly after physical activity.
Avoid abrupt starts and stops when doing physical activities or sports.
Don’t do too much too soon. Build up your endurance gradually.
Use proper form when doing any physical activity.
Try to get a sports therapist to test your muscles and joints for weakness.
Resting is very important especially if you’ve just completed a workout or a game. Your muscles need time to recover so don’t overwork yourself.
Regular check-ups with your doctor to make sure that there are no underlying conditions causing pain.
How To Do Soleus Exercises?
Soleus exercises can be done at home or in the gym. Below are some of the most common soleus exercises you can try:
Lying Down Calf Raises – Lying down calf raises are among the easiest exercises to do. All you need to do is position yourself on your back with both of your legs straight in the air.
Make sure that the soles of your feet are positioned firmly on the ground. Slowly raise one of your legs and then slowly lower it back down. Repeat the same process with the other leg.
Seated Calf Raise – This is another easy exercise to do. All you need to do is position yourself on a chair or a flat bench with your legs firmly placed on the floor.
From here, slowly lift up one of your legs so that the calf is flexed. Hold for a second and slowly lower your leg.
Tips For Doing Soleus Exercises:
Do not overdo it, if you feel pain then stop immediately.
Stretch properly before and after doing any exercises to avoid injury.
Always remember to breathe properly when doing any workout routine.
If you experience any pain while doing these exercises, then you should stop immediately. If the problem persists, then see a medical professional immediately.
You might also want to check out a Soleus stretcher that can be very helpful in fixing tight calves.
Sources & references used in this article:
Atrophy of the soleus muscle by hindlimb unweighting by DB Thomason, FW Booth – Journal of applied physiology, 1990 – journals.physiology.org
Rat hindlimb unloading: soleus histochemistry, ultrastructure, and electromyography by DA Riley, GR Slocum, JL Bain… – Journal of Applied …, 1990 – journals.physiology.org
Changes in contractile properties of disused soleus muscles by GD Fischbach, N Robbins – The Journal of Physiology, 1969 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov