Popliteus muscle

Popliteus muscle
Popliteus muscle
Muscles of the back of the leg. Deep layer. (Popliteus visible at center top.)
Latin musculus popliteus
Gray's subject #129 484
Origin posterior-medial tibia under the tibial condyles
Insertion    middle facet of the lateral surface of the lateral femoral condyle
Artery popliteal artery
Nerve tibial nerve
Actions Lateral rotation of femur and flexion of knee

The popliteus muscle in the leg is used to unlock the knee during walking/running by laterally rotating the femur on the tibia (or medially rotating the tibia) during a closed chain movement (such as one with the foot in contact with the ground).


Origin and insertion

It originates from lateral surface of lateral condyle of femur, origin is intracapsular outer margin of lateral meniscus of knee joint. Insertion-posterior surface of shaft of tibia above soleal line.


Nerve supply is via the tibial nerve from spinal roots L5 and S1.


The Popliteus assists in flexing the leg upon the thigh; when the leg is flexed, it will rotate the tibia inward.

It is especially called into action at the beginning of the act of bending the knee, in as much as it produces the slight inward rotation of the tibia, which is essential in the early stage of this movement.

When the knee is in full extension; the femur slightly medially rotates on the tibia to lock the knee joint in place. Popliteus is often referred to as the "Key" to unlocking the knee since it begins knee flexion by laterally rotating the femur on the tibia.

Popliteus is also attached to the lateral meniscus in the knee; and draws it posteriorly during knee flexion to prevent crushing the meniscus between the tibia/femur as the knee flexes.


Additional head from the sesamoid bone in the outer head of the Gastrocnemius.

Popliteus minor, rare, origin from femur on the inner side of the Plantaris, insertion into the posterior ligament of the knee-joint.

Peroneotibialis, 14% of population. Origin is inner side of the head of the fibula, insertion into the upper end of the oblique line of the tibia, it lies beneath the Popliteus[1].

Trigger points

A popliteus shortened by trigger points can cause pain near its tendinous origin at the lateral knee.

Additional images

See Also

  • Posterolateral Knee


  1. ^ Gray, Henry. 1918. Anatomy of the Human Body. Page 485

External links

This article was originally based on an entry from a public domain edition of Gray's Anatomy. As such, some of the information contained within it may be outdated.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Popliteus — Musculus popliteus Wadenmuskulatur des Menschen Ursprung Condylus lateralis femoris (äußerer Gelenkkopf des Femurs) Ansatz Obere hintere Fläche der Tibia …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Muscle — For other uses of Muscle , see Muscle (disambiguation). A top down view of skeletal muscle Muscle (from Latin …   Wikipedia

  • popliteal muscle — popliteus muscle musculus popliteus …   Medical dictionary

  • popliteus — 1. SYN: popliteal. 2. SYN: popliteal fossa. 3. SYN: p. (muscle). [L.] * * * pop·li·te·us .päp lə tē əsalso päp lit ē əs n, pl li·tei .ī a flat muscle that originates from the lateral condyle of the femur, forms part of the floor of the popliteal… …   Medical dictionary

  • popliteus — /pop lit ee euhs, pop li tee /, n., pl. poplitei / lit ee uy , li tee uy/. Anat. a thin, flat, triangular muscle in back of the knee, the action of which assists in bending the knee and in rotating the leg toward the body. [1695 1705; < NL, equiv …   Universalium

  • popliteus — noun A small muscle at the back of the knee that aids in bending the knee and in the rotation of the lower leg …   Wiktionary

  • popliteus — n. muscle located in the back of the knee (Anatomy) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • popliteus — n. a flat triangular muscle at the back of the knee joint, between the femur and tibia, that helps to flex the knee. Derivatives: popliteal adj …   The new mediacal dictionary

  • popliteus — pop•lit•e•us [[t]pɒpˈlɪt i əs, ˌpɒp lɪˈti [/t]] n. pl. lit•e•i [[t] ˈlɪt iˌaɪ, lɪˈti aɪ[/t]] anat. a flat, triangular muscle at the back of the knee • Etymology: 1695–1705; < NL, = L poplit (s. of poples) knee joint, back of the knee + eus… …   From formal English to slang

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