The heart is an amazing organ that pumps between 5 and 7 thousand liters of blood a day. Yet, it is not the only pump in the body. While the heart pumps blood out towards the extremities, deep muscles assist in pumping blood back towards the heart. One of the most important muscles for assisting blood flow back to the heart is the soleus muscle of the calf.
The soleus muscle is a large flat muscle in the lower leg. Part of the soleus can be palpated directly, while the rest lies underneath the gastrocnemius muscle. The location of the soleus muscles are important. They are on the extreme distal end of the body and furthest away from the heart. When standing upright, the soleus resides at the body’s lowest gravitational point. These two factors put the soleus in an ideal position to work synergistically with the heart as an efficient pumping system. The heart pumps arterial blood, while the soleus pumps venous blood. But, this occurs best when the soleus muscle is healthy and supple.
Problems with the soleus are a frequent cause of pain and suffering. Athletes and inactive people can both be affected. This happens because the soleus is used in many activities, such as walking, running, and cycling. It is a hardworking muscle that tends to get heavy use and very little care. Most people don’t take enough time to stretch and treat the soleus. Hence muscle tightness and trigger points can form, causing the soleus to hinder circulation rather than help.
Tight, stiff soleus muscles can radiate pain to the heel, ankle, and as far away as the lower back. Complications from soleus tightness include: ankle instability, calf cramps, varicose veins, phlebitis, lower leg edema, low blood pressure, orthostatic hypotension (postural hypotension), and hypersensitivity of lower back. Pain that is mimicked by tight soleus muscle include: plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, stress fracture, shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, and thrombosis.
Treatment for the soleus muscle should begin with natural therapy. Home treatments such as strength training, stretching and self massage should be done regularly to maintain the muscle’s pliability, density, range of motion, and function.
At August Point Wellness, we believe that many of the soleus muscle issues can be addressed through acupuncture, massage therapy, and stretching.
An example treatment that we would use to address tight soleus:
- Acupuncture – Soleus Motor Points (MP) 1-4, Gastrocnemius MP 1-2, UB40, GB34, UB36, UB37, GB21, UB10
- Massage Therapy/Tui Na – Soleus, Gastrocnemius, Anterior Tibialis, Peroneus Longus, Popliteus, Hamstrings
- External Liniment/Rub – Massage Sciaticare Penetrating Muscle Rub into muscles
- Advise The Sciaticare Ball For patient self-use to manage and release Soleus Trigger Points