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The calf muscles are a group of two muscles located in the posterior leg region on both sides of the body.  Their names are: 1) Gastrocnemius and 2) Soleus.  These muscles are shown in Figure 1 below:

Figure 1. The Calf Muscles.


The nerve supply to the calf muscles is by the internal popliteal nerve. See Figure 2 below.  It has four to five muscular branches and is the larger of the two terminal branches of the sciatic nerve.  It descends along the posterior aspect of the thigh through the middle popliteal space to the lower part of the popliteus muscle.  There it passes beneath the arch of the Soleus muscle and turns into the posterior tibial nerve. 

Calf Muscles Nerves

Figure 2.  Internal  popliteal nerve.

"LifeART (and/or) MediClip image copyright (2005) Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. All rights reserved."


The calf muscles function is to plantarflex the foot or feet.  This occurs during activities such as running and jumping.  This is illustrated in Figures 3a and 3b below:

Calf Muscle Function

Figure 3a.  Left foot plantarflexed.  Muscles involved:  L-gastrocnemius, L-soleus.

Calf Muscle Function

Figure 3b. Both feet plantarflexed. Muscles involved:  L/R-gastrocnemius, L/R-soleus.



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Dr. Larry Van Such

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