Gastrocnemius

Written by Roxanne Salkeld

Last updated January 16, 2023 • 6 Revisions •

The gastrocnemius is a muscle within the superficial compartment of the posterior leg. It has medial and lateral heads and forms the characteristic “calf” shape of the leg.

  • Attachments:
    • The lateral head originates from the lateral femoral condyle. The medial head originates from the medial femoral condyle.
    • The two heads combine to form a single muscle belly.
    • Distally, the muscle belly converges with the soleus muscle to form the calcaneal tendon. This inserts onto the calcaneus.
  • Actions: Plantarflexion at the ankle joint and flexion at the knee joint.
  • Innervation: Tibial nerve.
  • Blood Supply: Medial and lateral sural arteries (branches of the popliteal artery).

Fig 1
The muscles in the superficial layer of the posterior leg. The body of the gastrocnemius has been cut away to expose the underlying musculature.

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