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Popliteus - posterior view
Popliteus - posteromedial view
Popliteus - posterolateral view
Popliteus - posterior zoom

General Information

  • This section is strictly limited to anatomy, you might be looking for clinical relevant information which is found under the clinical chapters -- muscles section, click here to go to that page


  • Deep to both the gastrocnemius and plantaris


  • Lateral condyle femur
    • Lateral aspect
  • Oblique popliteal ligament at knee joint


  • Posterior surface of tibia
    • Triangular area proximal to the soleal line
  • Fascia sorrounding the muscle

Main function

  • Knee
    • Flexion
    • Medial rotation

Secondary function

  • Knee
    • Lateral rotation

Nerve innervation

  • Segmental
    • L4-S1
  • Peripheral
    • Tibial nerve

Arterial supply

  • Popliteal artery


  • Patient position
    • Sitting
  • Place your one hand proximal at the posterior aspect of the tibia
  • Palpate deep to the gastrocnemius
  • While palpating, ask the patient to medially rotate the knee and feel for contraction in the muscle
  • Keep palpating the muscle inferiorly along the tibia
  • The insertion can be difficult to palpate

Strength test

  • Patient position
    • Sitting
  • Have the patient's foot hang freely above the floor
  • Ask the patient to hold the knee in a laterally rotated position
  • Ask the patient to medially rotate the knee
    • It is not necessary to add resistance
  • Note that there are 4 other muscles which medially rotate the knee
    • Sartorius
    • Gracilis
    • Semimembranosus
    • Semitendinosus