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Knee Pain - Don't Forget Popliteus

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Stuart Hinds explains the importance of popliteus trigger points when assessing and treating "runner's knee"


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Trigger points in the popliteus are often associated with knee pain, and too often overlooked

[Latin: poples, ham]

The tendon from the origin of the popliteus lies inside the capsule of the knee joint.


Lateral surface of lateral condyle of femur. Oblique popliteal ligament of knee joint.


Upper part of posterior surface of tibia, superior to soleal line.


Popliteus - Common Trigger Point Site



Laterally rotates femur on tibia when foot is fixed on ground. Medially rotates tibia on femur when leg is not weight bearing. Assists flexion of knee joint (popliteus “unlocks” extended knee joint to initiate flexion of leg). Helps reinforce posterior ligaments of knee joint.


Tibial nerve, L4, 5, S1.


Example: walking.


Localized 5–6 cm zone of pain (posterior and central knee joint), with some spreading of diffuse pain, radiating in all directions, especially inferiorly.


Popliteus - Typically refers pain to the back and middle of the knee.



Pain in back of knee squatting/ crouching/walking/running, pain behind knee/calf walking uphill and descending stairs, stiff knee on passive flexion/extension, planter fasciitis, chronic calf shortening, low back pain, leg cramps.


Post-fracture, splinting, poor orthotics, prolonged driving, twisting sports (e.g. soccer, climbing, skiing, baseball, football), associated with many knee problems.


Avulsion. Cruciate ligaments (instability). Baker’s cyst. Osteoarthritis. Tendonitis. Cartilage (meniscus) injury. Vascular (deep vein thrombosis, thrombosis). Tenosynovitis.


Hamstrings (biceps femoris), gastrocnemius (ligamentum patellae), plantaris.


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Dry Needling for Trigger Points

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Trigger Point Workbooks 


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This trigger point therapy blog is intended to be used for information purposes only and is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or to substitute for a medical diagnosis and/or treatment rendered or prescribed by a physician or competent healthcare professional. This information is designed as educational material, but should not be taken as a recommendation for treatment of any particular person or patient. Always consult your physician if you think you need treatment or if you feel unwell. 




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