Background: Although the quadriceps muscles are known antagonists for the anterior cruciate ligament and the hamstring muscles are known agonists, the influence of the calf muscles on knee stability is not well understood. Hypothesis: The soleus muscle acts as an anterior cruciate ligament agonist and the gastrocnemius muscle acts as an anterior cruciate ligament antagonist. Study Design: Controlled laboratory study. Methods: Six cadaveric knees were tested with individual and combined activation of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles to determine the influence of simulated muscle contraction on tibiofemoral motion. Results: At all flexion angles, applying the soleus muscle force tended to translate the tibia posteriorly, whereas applying the gastrocnemius muscle force tended to translate the tibia anteriorly. Applying the soleus and gastrocnemius muscle forces together also tended to translate the tibia anteriorly. The average anterior and posterior tibial translations were greatest at 50° of flexion. Conclusions: The soleus muscle is capable of acting as an agonist for the anterior cruciate ligament and the gastrocnemius muscle can act as an antagonist. Clinical Relevance: A better understanding of the agonistic behavior of the soleus muscle on the anterior cruciate ligament may lead to the development of training and rehabilitation strategies that could reduce the incidence of injury and improve function in both patients with anterior cruciate ligament deficiency and patients who have undergone anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation