The plantaris muscle is best described as the thin muscle that starts at the knee joint which connects to the plantaris tendon that starts at the calf. Take note that the plantaris tendon elongates down the calf to the foot, connected to the joints present in the foot. The plantaris tendon and muscle are susceptible to injuries since they are connected to two joints and often damaged during sports such as cycling, running or tennis. The first aid care and treatment usually involves immobilization of the affected ankle, mild stretching of the plantaris and administration of pain relief medications to minimize the pain.
What is the plantaris muscle?
The plantaris muscle is best described as the thin band of muscle tissue that helps with the bending of the ankle and knee. This narrow muscle starts right behind the knee joint and extends down to the back of the heel close to the Achilles tendon. This muscle is commonly mistaken as a nerve. The motor function of the plantaris muscle is irrelevant which makes it the ideal option used during surgical tendon grafts as well as for the reconstruction of other musculature present in the body.
Even though the muscle function of the muscle is insignificant, it can result to pain from injuries such as a torn Achilles tendon. Injuries due to overuse can also occur such as during jumping or running. Overuse injury in the plantaris muscle is called as tennis leg but it does not always originate in the muscle.
Steps in treating an injured plantaris muscle
Taping the ankle
The affected ankle must be placed in a neutral position. You can keep it neutral by applying an adhesive tape such as leucoplast tape around the ankle to prevent it from bending. The ankle must be taped for 1-3 days. Take note that immobilizing the ankle will help increase the regeneration of muscle fiber as well as promoting faster recovery time. If there is pain when walking the affected foot while it is immobilized, crutches must be used to elevate the foot from the ground to minimize the pain.
Stretching the muscle
The plantaris muscle must be gradually stretched for 3-5 days after the ankle is immobilized. Some of the techniques performed by a chiropractor or doctor include the myofacial release, Active Release Techniques and instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization. Take note that these techniques will help distend the developing scar over the damaged plantaris and promote the growth of collagen, thus increasing the recovery time.
Decrease the activity level
The level of activity that involves the use of the plantaris muscle must be decreased for 4-8 weeks. The individual must avoid exercises or sports that involve the full movement of the ankle since it will only aggravate the muscle pain.
Administration of analgesics
For pain reduction, analgesics are recommended. Commonly used over-the-counter analgesics include acetaminophen, ibuprofen and aspirin.