Triceps Surae

Original Editor - Shejza Mino

Top Contributors - Shejza Mino  

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The triceps surae is a term applied to a muscular that is constructed by the soleus, the two-headed (medial & lateral) gastrocnemius and the plantaris muscles[1]. Research suggests that contracture of the triceps surae is correlated with various conditions that affect the forefoot and midfoot, therefore lengthening of these muscles is valuable in resolving foot conditions [2].


The muscles that comprise the triceps surae (gastrocnemius, soleus and plantaris) are part of the posterosuperficial compartment of the leg[1].

The soleus muscle and both heads of the gastrocnemius muscle, fuse to insert onto the calcaneus (heel bone) through the achilles tendon (also known as the calcaneal tendon), which is considered the strongest tendon in the human body[2].

It has been proposed that the plantaris muscle, which is absent in less than 10% of the population, can also form a portion of the achilles tendon [2].

Gastrocnemius: As previously mentioned, this muscle consists of two heads (lateral and medial) at it's origin, making up the superficial portion of the triceps surae. Both the medial and lateral head insert into the calcaneus bone.

Origin - posterosuperior region of the corresponding femoral condyle, specifically:

  • Medial head:
  • Lateral head:

Soleus (deep to the gastrocnemius):

  • Origin - posterior aspect of the fibular head, soleal line on the medial border of the tibia


The triceps surae is innervated by the tibial nerve, nerve roots S1, S2[1].


The triceps surae forms the achilles tendon distally, and is responsible for producing the majority of ankle dorsiflexion (up to 93%) in the sagittal plane, while stabilizing the ankle complex in the transverse plane[1].

Movement performed in the sagittal plane, stabilization during locomotion (walking, running), restraining the body from falling and power jumping are all functional activities of the triceps surae [3]

Clinical Significance

Calf Strain

A calf strain implies damage to either the muscle belly itself or to its tendons at the site of attachment


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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Keith LM, Arthur FD, Anne MR. Clinically oriented anatomy. Clinically oriented anatomy. 2006.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Dalmau-Pastor M, Fargues-Polo B, Casanova-Martínez D, Vega J, Golanó P. Anatomy of the triceps surae: a pictorial essay. Foot and ankle clinics. 2014 Dec 1;19(4):603-35.
  3. Honeine JL, Schieppati M, Gagey O, Do MC. The functional role of the triceps surae muscle during human locomotion. PloS one. 2013 Jan 16;8(1):e52943.