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Triceps surae
Posterior view of the triceps surae.
Dissection video (1 min 40 s)
Pronunciation/ˈtrsɛps ˈsjʊəri/
Origindistal femur (gastrocnemius), posterior tibia (soleus)
Insertionachilles tendon, calcaneus
Arteryposterior tibial artery
Nervetibial nerve
Latinmusculus triceps surae
Anatomical terms of muscle

The triceps surae consists of two muscles located at the calf – the two-headed gastrocnemius and the soleus. These muscles both insert into the calcaneus, the bone of the heel of the human foot, and form the major part of the muscle of the posterior leg, commonly known as the calf muscle.


The triceps surae is connected to the foot through the Achilles tendon, and has three heads deriving from the two major masses of muscle.[1]

The triceps surae is innervated by the tibial nerve, specifically, nerve roots L5–S2.


Contraction of the triceps surae induce plantar flexion (sagittal plane) and stabilization of the ankle complex in the transverse plane. Functional activities include primarily movement in the sagittal plane, stabilization during locomotion (walking, running), restraining the body from falling and power jumping. By controlling the disequilibrium torque, the triceps surae can affect force through the exchange of potential into kinetic energy.[2]

Clinical significance

Calf strain (torn calf muscle)

A calf strain refers to damage to a muscle or its attaching tendons.[3][4] A premature return before recovery is achieved will result in a prolonged recovery or incomplete return to baseline prior to injury.[1] Stretches such as alternating calf raises can improve flexibility as well as mobilize legs before running.[4]

Calf muscles are a common place for fasciculations.

Additional images

Etymology and pronunciation

The term is pronounced /ˈtrsɛps ˈsjʊəri/. It is from Latin caput and sura meaning "three-headed [muscle] of the calf".


  1. ^ a b Dixon JB (June 2009). "Gastrocnemius vs. soleus strain: how to differentiate and deal with calf muscle injuries". Current Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine. 2 (2): 74–7. doi:10.1007/s12178-009-9045-8. PMC 2697334. PMID 19468870.
  2. ^ Honeine JL, Schieppati M, Gagey O, Do MC (2013-01-16). "The functional role of the triceps surae muscle during human locomotion". PLOS ONE. 8 (1): e52943. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052943. PMC 3547017. PMID 23341916.
  3. ^ "Calf Muscle Tear". Retrieved 2020-02-09.
  4. ^ a b Minnor M (2018-05-03). "7 Pre- and Post-Workout Stretches for Runners – Aaptiv". Aaptiv. Retrieved 2018-06-11.

Further reading

  • McCarthy JP, Hunter GR, Larson-Meyer DE, Bamman MM, Landers KA, Newcomer BR (August 2006). "Ethnic differences in triceps surae muscle-tendon complex and walking economy". Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 20 (3): 511–8. doi:10.1519/17395.1. PMID 16937962. S2CID 23097795.