Trigger points in Plantaris are often associated with "unexplained" pain at the back of the knee
Any therapist experienced in treating trigger points will tell you that it's amazing how often a little bit of trigger point knowledge can help identify the cause of "unexplained" pain.
A good example is clients who come to us with pain in the back of the knee, sometimes radiating to the back of the calf, and in a few cases radiating all the way down to the big toe.
In these cases, the culprit is often the Plantaris muscle. This is a slim tendon running next to the larger Achilles Tendon. It’s function is to work with the Achilles to flex the ankle and knee joint by extending from the outside back of the femur (allowing you to stand on your toes or point your foot).
The plantaris starts just above lateral head of the gastrocnemius muscle and runs beneath the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles located near the inner (medial border) of the Achilles tendon and attaches to medial side of the Calcaneus (heel bone).
Who is most at risk?
Trigger points in the Plantaris are extremely common especially in runners and those who play weekend sports such as soccer. Over the years we've also noticed a definite connection with people who drive for long periods, and with the prologued wearing of high heels - especially in the case of women who are on their feet for long periods each day.
Two other important observations (and something we regularly hear from colleagues) is that trigger points in Plantaris seem also to be commonly associated with shin splints, and growing pains in children.
Plantaris Trigger Points - Often associated with "unexplained" knee pain
Trigger Point Therapy
Identifying trigger points in the Plantaris should be quite straightforward for any experienced therapist, and they are generally quite simple to treat.
If you fall into any the categories above (running, driving, prologued wearing of high heels) it is probably worth having a therapist check you for trigger points as these may exist for a while without showing any signs or symptoms. Trigger points make their host muscle shorter and less efficient, so early treatment may often help to avoid the development of a more serious injury.
Trigger Point Self Help
General advice includes change footwear; change and vary running techniques/running surface; avoid high-heeled shoes where possible. Regular stretching. Leg rests at home and at work. warm up before exercise and use ice and massage after sports.
Balls and pressure tools should not be used by the novice, because the muscle is deep and there are many both superficial and deep veins in the area.
One thing you can do however is to regularly stretch. the correct stretching exercises can be excellent for disabling trigger points in the lower limb and calf muscles.
Sit with your legs out in front and bend both knees. Grab hold of your toes and pull them towards your knees.
Regulate the intensity of this stretch by pushing your heels forward and pulling your toes back.
Kneel on one foot and place your body weight over your knee. Keep your heel on the ground and lean forward.
Be careful as this stretch can put a lot of pressure on the Achilles tendon. Ease into this stretch by slowly leaning forward.
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