Gastrocnemius muscle

Gastrocnemius muscle
Gastrocnemius muscle
Lateral aspect of right leg.
Gray's subject #129 482
Origin superior to articular surfaces of lateral condyle of femur and medial condyle of femur
Insertion    tendo calcaneus (achilles tendon) into mid-posterior calcaneus
Artery sural arteries
Nerve tibial nerve from the sciatic, specifically, nerve roots S1–S2
Actions plantar flexes foot, flexes knee
Antagonist Tibialis anterior muscle

In humans, the gastrocnemius muscle (play /ˌɡæstrɒkˈnmiəs/ or /ˌɡæstrəˈnmiəs/; Latin, from Greek γαστήρ "stomach" and knēmē "leg"; meaning "stomach of leg", referring to the bulging shape of the calf) is a very powerful superficial pennate muscle that is in the back part of the lower leg. It runs from its two heads just above the knee to the heel, and is involved in standing, walking, running and jumping. Along with the soleus muscle it forms the calf muscle. Its function is plantar flexing the foot at the ankle joint and flexing the leg at the knee joint. In a 1967 EMG study, Herman and Bragin concluded that its most important role was plantar flexing in large contractions and in rapid development of tension.

The gastrocnemius is located with the soleus in the posterior (back) compartment of the leg. The lateral head originates from the lateral condyle of the femur, while the medial head originates from the medial condyle of the femur. Its other end forms a common tendon with the soleus muscle; this tendon is known as the calcaneal tendon or Achilles Tendon and inserts onto the posterior surface of the calcaneus, or mountain bone.

Deep to the gastrocnemius (farther from the skin) is the soleus muscle. Some anatomists consider both to be a single muscle, the triceps surae. The plantaris muscle and a portion of its tendon run between the two muscles, which is involved in "locking" the knee from the standing and posterior tibial vein and the tibial nerve. Since the anterior compartment of the leg is lateral to the tibia, the bulge of muscle medial to the tibia on the anterior side is actually the posterior compartment. The soleus is superficial to the mid-shaft of the tibia. Frequently there is a sesamoid bone called the "fabella" in the lateral head of gastrocnemius muscle.

Clinical significance

The gastrocnemius muscle is very prone to spasms; the painful, involuntary, contraction of the muscle for up to several minutes.[1]

This muscle is prone to injury called torn calf muscle, which is disabling.

The Gastrocnemius muscle may also become inflamed due to overuse. Anti-inflammatory and physical therapy may be necessary.

Anatomical abnormalities involving the medial head of gastrocnemius muscle results in popliteal artery entrapment syndrome.

Additional images

External links

Kinesiology: Scientific Basis of Human Motion

Nancy Hamilton, Ph.D. Associate Professor, University of Northern Iowa

Kathryn Luttgens, Ph.D. Professor Emerita, Northeastern University

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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  • gastrocnemius muscle — ▪ anatomy also called  leg triceps,    large posterior muscle of the calf of the leg. It originates at the back of the femur (thighbone) and patella (kneecap) and, joining the soleus (another muscle of the calf), is attached to the Achilles… …   Universalium

  • gastrocnemius muscle — noun the muscle in the back part of the leg that forms the greater part of the calf; responsible for the plantar flexion of the foot • Syn: ↑gastrocnemius • Hypernyms: ↑skeletal muscle, ↑striated muscle • Part Holonyms: ↑calf, ↑sura …   Useful english dictionary

  • gastrocnemius muscle — musculus gastrocnemius …   Medical dictionary

  • gastrocnemius muscle lateral — caput laterale musculi gastrocnemii …   Medical dictionary

  • gastrocnemius muscle medial — caput mediale musculi gastrocnemii …   Medical dictionary

  • muscle — muscleless, adj. muscly, adj. /mus euhl/, n., v., muscled, muscling, adj. n. 1. a tissue composed of cells or fibers, the contraction of which produces movement in the body. 2. an organ, composed of muscle tissue, that contracts to produce a… …   Universalium

  • gastrocnemius — SYN: g. (muscle). [G. gastroknemia, calf of the leg, fr. gaster (gastr ), belly, + kneme, leg] * * * gas·troc·ne·mi·us .gas (.)träk nē mē əs, trək n, pl mii mē .ī the largest and most superficial muscle of the calf of the leg that arises by two… …   Medical dictionary

  • gastrocnemius — noun the muscle in the back part of the leg that forms the greater part of the calf; responsible for the plantar flexion of the foot (Freq. 4) • Syn: ↑gastrocnemius muscle • Hypernyms: ↑skeletal muscle, ↑striated muscle • Part Holonyms: ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • gastrocnemius — [ˌgastrə(ʊ) kni:mɪəs] (also gastrocnemius muscle) noun (plural gastrocnemii mɪʌɪ) Anatomy the chief muscle of the calf of the leg, which flexes the knee and foot. Origin C17: mod. L., from Gk gastroknēmia calf of the leg , from gaster, gastr… …   English new terms dictionary

  • Muscle — is the tissue of the body which primarily functions as a source of power. There are three types of muscle in the body. Muscle which is responsible for moving extremities and external areas of the body is called "skeletal muscle." Heart… …   Medical dictionary

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