Reference > Anatomy of the Human Body > IV. Myology > 8c. The Muscles and Fasciæ of the Leg
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Henry Gray (1821–1865).  Anatomy of the Human Body.  1918.
 
8c. The Muscles and Fasciæ of the Leg
 
The muscles of the leg may be divided into three groups: anterior, posterior, and lateral.   1
 
1. The Anterior Crural Muscles (Fig. 437).
Tibialis anterior.
Extensor digitorum longus.
Extensor hallucis longus.
Peronæus tertius.
 
Deep Fascia (fascia cruris).—The deep fascia of the leg forms a complete investment to the muscles, and is fused with the periosteum over the subcutaneous surfaces of the bones. It is continuous above with the fascia lata, and is attached around the knee to the patella, the ligamentum patellæ, the tuberosity and condyles of the tibia, and the head of the tibula. Behind, it forms the popliteal fascia, covering in the popliteal fossa; here it is strengthened by transverse fibers, and perforated by the small saphenous vein. It receives an expansion from the tendon of the Biceps femoris laterally, and from the tendons of the Sartorius, Gracilis, Semitendinosus, and Semimembranosus medially; in front, it blends with the periosteum covering the subcutaneous surface of the tibia, and with that covering the head and malleolus of the fibula; below, it is continuous with the transverse crural and laciniate ligaments. It is thick and dense in the upper and anterior part of the leg, and gives attachment, by its deep surface, to the Tibialis anterior and Extensor digitorum longus; but thinner behind, where it covers the Gastrocnemius and Soleus. It gives off from its deep surface, on the lateral side of the leg, two strong intermuscular septa, the anterior and posterior peroneal septa, which enclose the Peronæi longus and brevis, and separate them from the muscles of the anterior and posterior crural regions, and several more slender processes which enclose the individual muscles in each region. A broad transverse intermuscular septum, called the deep transverse fascia of the leg, intervenes between the superficial and deep posterior crural muscles.   2
  The Tibialis anterior (Tibialis anticus) is situated on the lateral side of the tibia; it is thick and fleshy above, tendinous below. It arises from the lateral condyle and upper half or two-thirds of the lateral surface of the body of the tibia; from the adjoining part of the interosseous membrane; from the deep surface of the fascia; and from the intermuscular septum between it and the Extensor digitorum longus. The fibers run vertically downward, and end in a tendon, which is apparent on the anterior surface of the muscle at the lower third of the leg. After passing through the most medial compartments of the transverse and cruciate crural ligaments, it is inserted into the medial and under surface of the first cuneiform bone, and the base of the first metatarsal bone. This muscle overlaps the anterior tibial vessels and deep peroneal nerve in the upper part of the leg.   3
 
Variations.—A deep portion of the muscle is rarely inserted into the talus, or a tendinous slip may pass to the head of the first metatarsal bone or the base of the first phalanx of the great toe. The Tibiofascialis anterior, a small muscle from the lower part of the tibia to the transverse or cruciate crural ligaments or deep fascia.   4
  The Extensor hallucis longus (Extensor proprius hallucis) is a thin muscle, situated between the Tibialis anterior and the Extensor digitorum longus. It arises from the anterior surface of the fibula for about the middle two-fourths of its extent, medial to the origin of the Extensor digitorum longus; it also arises from the interosseous membrane to a similar extent. The anterior tibial vessels and deep peroneal nerve lie between it and the Tibialis anterior. The fibers pass downward, and end in a tendon, which occupies the anterior border of the muscle, passes through a distinct compartment in the cruciate crural ligament, crosses from the lateral to the medial side of the anterior tibial vessels near the bend of the ankle, and is inserted into the base of the distal phalanx of the great toe. Opposite the metatarsophalangeal articulation, the tendon gives off a thin prolongation on either side, to cover the surface of the joint. An expansion from the medial side of the tendon is usually inserted into the base of the proximal phalanx.   5
 
Variations.—Occasionally united at its origin with the Extensor digitorum longus. Extensor ossis metatarsi hallucis, a small muscle, sometimes found as a slip from the Extensor hallucis longus, or from the Tibialis anterior, or from the Extensor digitorum longus, or as a distinct muscle; it traverses the same compartment of the transverse ligament with the Extensor hallucis longus.   6


FIG. 437– Muscles of the front of the leg. (See enlarged image)
 
  The Extensor digitorum longus is a penniform muscle, situated at the lateral part of the front of the leg. It arises from the lateral condyle of the tibia; from the upper three-fourths of the anterior surface of the body of the fibula; from the upper part of the interosseous membrane; from the deep surface of the fascia; and from the intermuscular septa between it and the Tibialis anterior on the medial, and the Peronæi on the lateral side. Between it and the Tibialis anterior are the upper portions of the anterior tibial vessels and deep peroneal nerve. The tendon passes under the transverse and cruciate crural ligaments in company with the Peronæus tertius, and divides into four slips, which run forward on the dorsum of the foot, and are inserted into the second and third phalanges of the four lesser toes. The tendons to the second, third, and fourth toes are each joined, opposite the metatarsophalangeal articulation, on the lateral side by a tendon of the Extensor digitorum brevis. The tendons are inserted in the following manner: each receives a fibrous expansion from the Interossei and Lumbricalis, and then spreads out into a broad aponeurosis, which covers the dorsal surface of the first phalanx: this aponeurosis, at the articulation of the first with the second phalanx, divides into three slips—an intermediate, which is inserted into the base of the second phalanx; and two collateral slips, which, after uniting on the dorsal surface of the second phalanx, are continued onward, to be inserted into the base of the third phalanx.   7
 
Variations.—This muscle varies considerably in the modes of origin and the arrangement of its various tendons. The tendons to the second and fifth toes may be found doubled, or extra slips are given off from one or more tendons to their corresponding metatarsal bones, or to the short extensor, or to one of the interosseous muscles. A slip to the great toe from the innermost tendon has been found.   8
  The Peronæus tertius is a part of the Extensor digitorum longus, and might be described as its fifth tendon. The fibers belonging to this tendon arise from the lower third or more of the anterior surface of the fibula; from the lower part of the interosseous membrane; and from an intermuscular septum between it and the Peronæus brevis. The tendon, after passing under the transverse and cruciate crural ligaments in the same canal as the Extensor digitorum longus, is inserted into the dorsal surface of the base of the metatarsal bone of the little toe. This muscle is sometimes wanting.   9
 
Nerves.—These muscles are supplied by the fourth and fifth lumbar and first sacral nerves through the deep peroneal nerve.   10
  
  
  
Actions.—The Tibialis anterior and Peronæus tertius are the direct flexors of the foot at the ankle-joint; the former muscle, when acting in conjunction with the Tibialis posterior, raises the medial border of the foot, i. e., inverts the foot; and the latter, acting with the Peronæi brevis and longus, raises the lateral border of the foot, i. e., everts the foot. The Extensor digitorum longus and Extensor hallucis longus extend the phalanges of the toes, and, continuing their action, flex the foot upon the leg. Taking their fixed points from below, in the erect posture, all these muscles serve to fix the bones of the leg in the perpendicular position, and give increased strength to the ankle-joint.   11
 
2. The Posterior Crural Muscles—The muscles of the back of the leg are subdivided into two groups—superficial and deep. Those of the superficial group constitute a powerful muscular mass, forming the calf of the leg. Their large size is one of the most characteristic features of the muscular apparatus in man, and bears a direct relation to his erect attitude and his mode of progression.   12
 
The Superficial Group (Fig. 438).
Gastrocnemius.Soleus.Plantaris.
  The Gastrocnemius is the most superficial muscle, and forms the greater part of the calf. It arises by two heads, which are connected to the condyles of the femur by strong, flat tendons. The medial and larger head takes its origin from a depression at the upper and back part of the medial condyle and from the adjacent part of the femur. The lateral head arises from an impression on the side of the lateral condyle and from the posterior surface of the femur immediately above the lateral part of the condyle. Both heads, also, arise from the subjacent part of the capsule of the knee. Each tendon spreads out into an aponeurosis, which covers the posterior surface of that portion of the muscle to which it belongs. From the anterior surfaces of these tendinous expansions, muscular fibers are given off; those of the medial head being thicker and extending lower than those of the lateral. The fibers unite at an angle in the middle line of the muscle in a tendinous raphé, which expands into a broad aponeurosis on the anterior surface of the muscle, and into this the remaining fibers are inserted. The aponeurosis, gradually contracting, unites with the tendon of the Soleus, and forms with it the tendo calcaneus.   13
 
Variations.—Absence of the outer head or of the entire muscle. Extra slips from the popliteal surface of the femur.   14
  The Soleus is a broad flat muscle situated immediately in front of the Gastrocnemius. It arises by tendinous fibers from the back of the head of the fibula, and from the upper third of the posterior surface of the body of the bone; from the popliteal line, and the middle third of the medial border of the tibia; some fibers also arise from a tendinous arch placed between the tibial and fibular origins of the muscle, in front of which the popliteal vessels and tibial nerve run. The fibers end in an aponeurosis which covers the posterior surface of the muscle, and, gradually becoming thicker and narrower, joins with the tendon of the Gastrocnemius, and forms with it the tendo calcaneus.   15
 
Variations.—Accessory head to its lower and inner part usually ending in the tendocalcaneus, or the calcaneus, or the laciniate ligament.   16
  The Gastrocnemius and Soleus together form a muscular mass which is occasionally described as the Triceps suræ; its tendon of insertion is the tendo calcaneus.   17
 
Tendo Calcaneus (tendo Achillis).—The tendo calcaneus, the common tendon of the Gastrocnemius and Soleus, is the thickest and strongest in the body. It is about 15 cm. long, and begins near the middle of the leg, but receives fleshy fibers on its anterior surface, almost to its lower end. Gradually becoming contracted below, it is inserted into the middle part of the posterior surface of the calcaneus, a bursa being interposed between the tendon and the upper part of this surface. The tendon spreads out somewhat at its lower end, so that its narrowest part is about 4 cm. above its insertion. It is covered by the fascia and the integument, and is separated from the deep muscles and vessels by a considerable interval filled up with areolar and adipose tissue. Along its lateral side, but superficial to it, is the small saphenous vein.   18
  The Plantaris is placed between the Gastrocnemius and Soleus. It arises from the lower part of the lateral prolongation of the linea aspera, and from the oblique popliteal ligament of the knee-joint. It forms a small fusiform belly, from 7 to 10 cm. long, ending in a long slender tendon which crosses obliquely between the two muscles of the calf, and runs along the medial border of the tendo calcaneus, to be inserted with it into the posterior part of the calcaneus. This muscle is sometimes double, and at other times wanting. Occasionally, its tendon is lost in the laciniate ligament, or in the fascia of the leg.   19
 
Nerves.—The Gastrocnemius and Soleus are supplied by the first and second sacral nerves, and the Plantaris by the fourth and fifth lumbar and first sacral nerves, through the tibial nerve.   20
 
Actions.—The muscles of the calf are the chief extensors of the foot at the ankle-joint. They possess considerable power, and are constantly called into use in standing, walking, dancing, and leaping; hence the large size they usually present. In walking, these muscles raise the heel from the ground; the body being thus supported on the raised foot, the opposite limb can be carried forward. In standing, the Soleus, taking its fixed point from below, steadies the leg upon the foot and prevents the body from falling forward. The Gastrocnemius, acting from below, serves to flex the femur upon the tibia, assisted by the Popliteus. The Plantaris is the rudiment of a large muscle which in some of the lower animals is continued over the calcaneus to be inserted into the plantar aponeurosis. In man it is an accessory to the Gastrocnemius, extending the ankle if the foot be free, or bending the knee if the foot be fixed.   21
 
The Deep Group (Fig. 439).
Popliteus.
Flexor digitorum longus.
Flexor hallucis longus.
Tibialis posterior.
 
Deep Transverse Fascia.—The deep transverse fascia of the leg is a transversely placed, intermuscular septum, between the superficial and deep muscles of the back of the leg. At the sides it is connected to the margins of the tibia and fibula. Above, where it covers the Popliteus, it is thick and dense, and receives an expansion from the tendon of the Semimembranosus; it is thinner in the middle of the leg; but below, where it covers the tendons passing behind the malleoli, it is thickened and continuous with the laciniate ligament.   22


FIG. 438– Muscles of the back of the leg. Superficial layer. (See enlarged image)
 


FIG. 439– Muscles of the back of the leg. Deep layer. (See enlarged image)
 
  The Popliteus is a thin, flat, triangular muscle, which forms the lower part of the floor of the popliteal fossa. It arises by a strong tendon about 2.5 cm. long, from a depression at the anterior part of the groove on the lateral condyle of the femur, and to a small extent from the oblique popliteal ligament of the knee-joint; and is inserted into the medial two-thirds of the triangular surface above the popliteal line on the posterior surface of the body of the tibia, and into the tendinous expansion covering the surface of the muscle.   23
 
Variations.—Additional head from the sesamoid bone in the outer head of the Gastrocnemius. Popliteus minor, rare, origin from femur on the inner side of the Plantaris, insertion into the posterior ligament of the knee-joint. Peroneotibialis, 14 per cent., origin inner side of the head of the fibula, insertion into the upper end of the oblique line of the tibia, it lies beneath the Popliteus.   24
  The Flexor hallucis longus is situated on the fibular side of the leg. It arises from the inferior two-thirds of the posterior surface of the body of the fibula, with the exception of 2.5 cm. at its lowest part; from the lower part of the interosseous membrane; from an intermuscular septum between it and the Peronæi, laterally, and from the fascia covering the Tibialis posterior, medially. The fibers pass obliquely downward and backward, and end in a tendon which occupies nearly the whole length of the posterior surface of the muscle. This tendon lies in a groove which crosses the posterior surface of the lower end of the tibia, the posterior surface of the talus, and the under surface of the sustentaculum tali of the calcaneus; in the sole of the foot it runs forward between the two heads of the Flexor hallucis brevis, and is inserted into the base of the last phalanx of the great toe. The grooves on the talus and calcaneus, which contain the tendon of the muscle, are converted by tendinous fibers into distinct canals, lined by a mucous sheath. As the tendon passes forward in the sole of the foot, it is situated above, and crosses from the lateral to the medial side of the tendon of the Flexor digitorum longus, to which it is connected by a fibrous slip.   25
 
Variations.—Usually a slip runs to the Flexor digitorum and frequently an additional slip runs from the Flexor digitorum to the Flexor hallucis. Peroneocalcaneus internus, rare, origin below or outside the Flexor hallucis from the back of the fibula, passes over the sustentaculum tali with the Flexor hallucis and is inserted into the calcaneum.   26
  The Flexor digitorum longus is situated on the tibial side of the leg. At its origin it is thin and pointed, but it gradually increases in size as it descends. It arises from the posterior surface of the body of the tibia, from immediately below the popliteal line to within 7 or 8 cm. of its lower extremity, medial to the tibial origin of the Tibialis posterior; it also arises from the fascia covering the Tibialis posterior. The fibers end in a tendon, which runs nearly the whole length of the posterior surface of the muscle. This tendon passes behind the medial malleolus, in a groove, common to it and the Tibialis posterior, but separated from the latter by a fibrous septum, each tendon being contained in a special compartment lined by a separate mucous sheath. It passes obliquely forward and lateralward, superficial to the deltoid ligament of the ankle-joint, into the sole of the foot (Fig. 444), where it crosses below the tendon of the Flexor hallucis longus, and receives from it a strong tendinous slip. It then expands and is joined by the Quadratus plantæ, and finally divides into four tendons, which are inserted into the bases of the last phalanges of the second, third, fourth, and fifth toes, each tendon passing through an opening in the corresponding tendon of the Flexor digitorum brevis opposite the base of the first phalanx.   27
 
Variations.Flexor accessorius longus digitorum, not infrequent, origin from fibula, or tibia, or the deep fascia and ending in a tendon which, after passing beneath the laciniate ligament, joins the tendon of the long flexor or the Quadratus plantæ.   28
  The Tibialis posterior (Tibialis posticus) lies between the two preceding muscles, and is the most deeply seated of the muscles on the back of the leg. It begins above by two pointed processes, separated by an angular interval through which the anterior tibial vessels pass forward to the front of the leg. It arises from the whole of the posterior surface of the interosseous membrane, excepting its lowest part; from the lateral portion of the posterior surface of the body of the tibia, between the commencement of the popliteal line above and the junction of the middle and lower thirds of the body below; and from the upper two-thirds of the medial surface of the fibula; some fibers also arise from the deep transverse fascia, and from the intermuscular septa separating it from the adjacent muscles. In the lower fourth of the leg its tendon passes in front of that of the Flexor digitorum longus and lies with it in a groove behind the medial malleolus, but enclosed in a separate sheath; it next passes under the laciniate and over the deltoid ligament into the foot, and then beneath the plantar calcaneonavicular ligament. The tendon contains a sesamoid fibrocartilage, as it runs under the plantar calcaneonavicular ligament. It is inserted into the tuberosity of the navicular bone, and gives off fibrous expansions, one of which passes backward to the sustentaculum tali of the calcaneus, others forward and lateralward to the three cuneiforms, the cuboid, and the bases of the second, third, and fourth metatarsal bones.   29
 
Nerves.—The Popliteus is supplied by the fourth and fifth lumbar and first sacral nerves, the Flexor digitorum longus and Tibialis posterior by the fifth lumbar and first sacral, and the Flexor hallucis longus by the fifth lumbar and the first and second sacral nerves, through the tibial nerve.   30
 
Actions.—The Popliteus assists in flexing the leg upon the thigh; when the leg is flexed, it will rotate the tibia inward. It is especially called into action at the beginning of the act of bending the knee, inasmuch as it produces the slight inward rotation of the tibia which is essential in the early stage of this movement. The Tibialis posterior is a direct extensor of the foot at the ankle-joint; acting in conjunction with the Tibialis anterior, it turns the sole of the foot upward and medialward, i.e., inverts the foot, antagonizing the Peronæi, which turn it upward and lateralward (evert it). In the sole of the foot the tendon of the Tibialis posterior lies directly below the plantar calcaneonavicular ligament, and is therefore an important factor in maintaining the arch of the foot. The Flexor digitorum longus and Flexor hallucis longus are the direct flexors of the phalanges, and, continuing their action, extend the foot upon the leg; they assist the Gastrocnemius and Soleus in extending the foot, as in the act of walking, or in standing on tiptoe. In consequence of the oblique direction of its tendons the Flexor digitorum longus would draw the toes medialward, were it not for the Quadratus plantæ, which is inserted into the lateral side of the tendon, and draws it to the middle line of the foot. Taking their fixed point from the foot, these muscles serve to maintain the upright posture by steadying the tibia and fibula perpendicularly upon the talus.   31
 
3. The Lateral Crural Muscles (Fig. 439).
Peronæus longus.
Peronæus brevis.
  The Peronæus longus is situated at the upper part of the lateral side of the leg, and is the more superficial of the two muscles. It arises from the head and upper two-thirds of the lateral surface of the body of the fibula, from the deep surface of the fascia, and from the intermuscular septa between it and the muscles on the front and back of the leg; occasionally also by a few fibers from the lateral condyle of the tibia. Between its attachments to the head and to the body of the fibula there is a gap through which the common peroneal nerve passes to the front of the leg. It ends in a long tendon, which runs behind the lateral malleolus, in a groove common to it and the tendon of the Peronæus brevis, behind which it lies; the groove is converted into a canal by the superior peroneal retinaculum, and the tendons in it are contained in a common mucous sheath. The tendon then extends obliquely forward across the lateral side of the calcaneus, below the trochlear process, and the tendon of the Peronæus brevis, and under cover of the inferior peroneal retinaculum. It crosses the lateral side of the cuboid, and then runs on the under surface of that bone in a groove which is converted into a canal by the long plantar ligament; the tendon then crosses the sole of the foot obliquely, and is inserted into the lateral side of the base of the first metatarsal bone and the lateral side of the first cuneiform. Occasionally it sends a slip to the base of the second metatarsal bone. The tendon changes its direction at two points: first, behind the lateral malleolus; secondly, on the cuboid bone; in both of these situations the tendon is thickened, and, in the latter, a sesamoid fibrocartilage (sometimes a bone), is usually developed in its substance.   32


FIG. 440– Cross-section through middle of leg. (Eycleshymer and Schoemaker.) (See enlarged image)
 
  The Peronæus brevis lies under cover of the Peronæus longus, and is a shorter and smaller muscle. It arises from the lower two-thirds of the lateral surface of the body of the fibula; medial to the Peronæus longus; and from the intermuscular septa separating it from the adjacent muscles on the front and back of the leg. The fibers pass vertically downward, and end in a tendon which runs behind the lateral malleolus along with but in front of that of the preceding muscle, the two tendons being enclosed in the same compartment, and lubricated by a common mucous sheath. It then runs forward on the lateral side of the calcaneus, above the trochlear process and the tendon of the Peronæus longus, and is inserted into the tuberosity at the base of the fifth metatarsal bone, on its lateral side.   33
  On the lateral surface of the calcaneus the tendons of the Peronæi longus and brevis occupy separate osseoaponeurotic canals formed by the calcaneus and the perineal retinacula; each tendon is enveloped by a forward prolongation of the common mucous sheath.   34
 
Variations.—Fusion of the two peronæi is rare. A slip from the Peronæus longus to the base of the third, fourth or fifth metatarsal bone, or to the Adductor hallucis is occasionally seen.   35
  Peronæus accessorius, origin from the fibula between the longus and brevis, joins the tendon of the longus in the sole of the foot.   36
  Peronæus quinti digiti, rare, origin lower fourth of the fibula under the brevis, insertion into the Extensor aponeurosis of the little toe. More common as a slip of the tendon of the Peronæus brevis.   37
  Peronæus quartus, 13 per cent. (Gruber), origin back of fibula between the brevis and the Flexor hallucis, insertion into the peroneal spine of the calcaneum, (peroneocalcaneus externum), or less frequently into the tuberosity of the cuboid (peroneocuboideus).   38
 
Nerves.—The Peronæi longus and brevis are supplied by the fourth and fifth lumbar and first sacral nerves through the superficial peroneal nerve.   39
 
Actions.—The Peronæi longus and brevis extend the foot upon the leg, in conjunction with the Tibialis posterior, antagonizing the Tibialis anterior and Peronæus tertius, which are flexors of the foot. The Peronæus longus also everts the sole of the foot, and from the oblique direction of the tendon across the sole of the foot is an important agent in the maintenance of the transverse arch. Taking their fixed points below, the Peronæi serve to steady the leg upon the foot. This is especially the case in standing upon one leg, when the tendency of the superincumbent weight is to throw the leg medialward; the Peronæus longus overcomes this tendency by drawing on the lateral side of the leg.   40

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