(2) Quick Self-Tests to Tell if You have Myofascial Trigger Points in Your Soleus:
Follow the instructions below to get a good idea of whether myofascial trigger points might be setting you up for pain and dysfunction in your heel.
TEST 1: Heel Down Squat
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your feet pointing forward. Squat down as low as you can go without lifting your heels off the ground. A Passing
result is if you can squat all the way down without raising your heels. A Failing
result is when your heels lift off the ground before you attain a full squat (as shown in the pictures below) or you cannot attain a full squat.
TEST 2: Soleus Palpation
As always, palpation (the medical term for pressing, feeling and squeezing to evaluate body tissue) is often the most effective test to identify myofascial trigger points in your Soleus muscles. As in the illustration below, press your finger tips into the inside and back of the lower leg, in the muscle tissue just behind the shin bone.
Cover the shaded area on the inside and back of the calf from just below the knee down to just above the ankle, as shown. Feel for tender spots and tight bands of muscle (trigger points), indicating a Failing
Take note of any Referred Pain,
as well. Referred pain from trigger points in the Soleus can can occur in another part of your leg, heel, low back over the SI joint and even in the cheek over the TMJ. Myofascial dysfunction of your Soleus can cause problems with your heel, foot, and ankle, as well as your low back, knee and hip.
3-Step Simple Self-Care Remedies
The myofascial health of your Soleus Muscle is in your hands - literally! If any of the tests above were positive for myofascial dysfunction, the following self-care instructions can benefit you significantly. Spending a few minutes a day can improve the range of motion and stability of your foot and ankle, as well as relieve myofascial pain, even the prevalent heel pain caused by this "Runner's Nemesis."
Step 1: Warming Up with Moist Heat (optional)
The taut bands of muscle (trigger points) in your Soleus that you will be treating may appreciate some moist heat to soften them up. Soaking your calves in a tub of warm water for 5-10 minutes or during a shower works very well.
Step 2: Compression
Using your hands in the same way as you palpated earlier can be a good starting point to compress the trigger points in your Soleus. Compression allows the taut band to loosen and blood flow to increase when you release the compression. If you own a Jacknobber, use it in lieu of your fingers for more advanced compression.
When you find a tender point, press into it with enough pressure to feel the tenderness but not cause you to withdraw from the pain. Hold for 10 seconds while completing at least two full breaths in and out. Continue searching for more tender areas until you have covered the entire Soleus.
In addition to performing the above self-care steps once or twice a day, it might be helpful to pay attention to the following factors that can exacerbate pain caused by trigger points in your Soleus:
- Wearing high heels - Causes prolonged shortening of the Soleus. Please avoid this footwear.
- Sleeping with foot flexed downward - Heavy blankets pushing on the foot or sleeping on your stomach can create this flexed ankle position. Sleeping with you toes propped back up by a pillow or headboard can keep your foot in neutral position (perpendicular to shin)
- Sitting in tall chairs so toes stretch down to reach floor - Place books or other foot rest under your feet so that your ankle is in neutral position while sitting.
- Foot Hyperpronation - Click here to perform a test to see if you have hyperpronation or watch this video: