Apr 20 2023 Focusing on the Soleus muscle for Bullet Proof Knees

Focusing on the Soleus muscle for Bullet Proof Knees

Exercises

The soleus muscle is one of the calf muscles. It plays an important role in knee stability rehabilitation and injury prevention. In this blog post, we will discuss:

  1. How the soleus muscle acts as an agonist for the ACL
  2. Why it is important to strengthen it
  3. Highlight exercises that can strength the soleus

The soleus muscle is located deep to the gastrocnemius muscle in the lower leg. It originates from the posterior aspect of the tibia and fibula and inserts into the calcaneus (heel bone) via the Achilles tendon. The soleus muscle is responsible for plantarflexion of the ankle (pointing the toes down) and also controlling movement of the tibia.

The ACL ligament that connects the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone). This ligament helps to control rotational forces at the knee joint during activities such as jumping, landing, and changing direction. It is very important to the structural performance of the knee. The ACL can be injured by a sudden twist or hyperextension of the knee, or by a direct blow to the knee.

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The soleus muscle has been shown to protect the ACL from excessive strain. According to a study by Elias et al. (2003), the soleus muscle generated the greatest amount of posterior shear force at the knee during a single leg landing from height. This means that the soleus muscle helped to resist the anterior shearing forces that can overload the ACL and possibly lead to a tear. The soleus muscle also reached its peak force within 20% of the landing cycle. Comparing to the hamstrings that reached their peak force at 50% of the landing cycle. This is significant because ACL injury has been found to occur within 30-50 ms of initial contact after landing or changing direction.

Therefore, strengthening the soleus muscle may be beneficial for both ACL injury prevention and rehabilitation. A strong soleus muscle may help to reduce the risk of ACL injury by reducing anterior tibial translation and rotational forces during dynamic activities. A strong soleus muscle may also help to improve performance in patients with ACL deficiency by providing additional support to the knee joint.

Some exercises that can help to strengthen the soleus muscle are:

- Seated calf raises: Sit on a chair or bench with your feet flat on the floor. Place a weight on your thighs or hold a dumbbell in each hand. Lift your heels off the floor as high as possible, squeezing your calf muscles at the top. Lower your heels slowly and repeat for 10-15 repetitions.

- Standing calf raises: Stand on a step or platform with your heels hanging off the edge. Hold onto a railing or wall for balance if needed. Raise your heels up as high as possible, contracting your calf muscles at the top. Lower your heels below the level of the step or platform and repeat for 10-15 repetitions.

- Single leg hops: Stand on one leg with your knee slightly bent. Hop forward and land softly on the same leg, keeping your knee aligned with your toes. Repeat for 10-15 hops per leg.

- Single leg squats: Stand on one leg with your other leg lifted off the floor. Slowly bend your knee and lower your body until your thigh is parallel to the floor or as low as you can go comfortably. Keep your back straight and your core engaged. Push through your heel and return to standing position. Repeat for 10-15 repetitions per leg.

These exercises can be performed 2-3 times per week as part of a comprehensive ACL injury prevention or rehabilitation program. Always consult with your doctor or physiotherapist before starting any new exercise routine, especially if you have a history of knee injury or pain.

References:

: Hughes M (2021). Soleus Strengthening for ACL Rehab.Retrieved fromhttps://www.mickhughes.physio/single-post/soleus-strengthening-for-acl-rehab

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