The Gastrocnemius Muscles

The Gastrocnemius Muscles

Christine Wiese Anatomy, Lower Limb 1 Comment

What does the name gastrocnemius muscles mean?

The name Gastrocnemius comes from Greek.The Gastrocnemius Muscle
The Greek word “gaster” means “belly”.
The word “kneme” means the leg.
Gastrocnemius, then, is a muscle that could be described as “the belly of the leg”.

Where do the gastrocnemius muscles attach?

Gastrocnemius is the most superficial muscle in the posterior compartment of the leg. It lies on top of the soleus.
It has two heads which originate in different locations, but which come together to insert at the same place.


The medial head originates on the medial epicondyle of the femur, while the lateral head originates on the lateral epicondyle of the femur.


The two heads come together to insert, along with the posterior end of the soleus, on the calcaneus via the Achilles tendon.

What actions do the gastrocnemius muscles do?

The primary function of the gastrocnemius is plantarflexion of the ankle.
Additionally, because it crosses the knee joint, it can assist in flexion of the knee.

Poses where the gastrocnemius muscles contract:

The Gastrocnemius Muscles in Purvottanasana


The Gastrocnemius Muscles in Shalabasana


Poses where the gastrocnemius muscles are lengthened:

The Gastrocnemius Muscles in Downward Facing Dog

Downward dog

Trigger Points

Trigger Points in the Gastrocnemius Muscles

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Comments 1

  1. Thanks for these newsletters, they are so very informative. Hope you had fun in Aberdeen with Michele, Mo, et al; geez, I miss those days. Glad to see you’ve got workshops at YogaWorks in Baltimore. YogaWorks in northern California needs you… Larkspur, Mill Valley, Novato, Walnut Creek, San Francisco

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