Calf | Definition, Etymology, Functions & Anatomy


Calf is the lower part of our body. In Latin, it is known as sura. Its muscles enable us to move the lower leg and the foot.


The calf is the rear part of the lower leg of the human body.


This word originates from Middle English calf, kalf, from Old Norse kalfi. It is perhaps derived from the similar Germanic root as English calf which means young cow.

It is associated with Icelandic kálfi which means calf of the leg. The calf and calf of the leg are used in Middle English around 1350 AD and also in 1425 AD.


The muscles in the calf are accountable for the flexion of the foot/ankle. It permits you to bend your feet, walk, run, and jump. Also, it supports and stabilizes the legs and enables us to stand up straight. It provides enough ability for the foot to flex easily.

Anatomy of Calf


It has two bones which are the tibia and the fibula. These two bones give constancy and support the other parts of the body. It provides mobility and the capacity to walk or stand in an upright position through articulations with the femur, foot, and the muscles connected to these bones.


In the calf, the muscles start under the knee and expand to the ankle. The two muscles are:

  • Gastrocnemius Muscle
  • Soleus Muscle

Gastrocnemius Muscle:

It is a complex muscle that is essential for walking and position. This muscle forms the main part at the rear of the inferior leg and is a very strong muscle. It is a two-joint muscle that has two heads and runs from the rear of the knee to the heel.

Soleus Muscle:

This muscle is broad and smooth. It is a little deeper than the gastrocnemius muscle. It begins under the knee and runs down towards the lower leg. This attaches to the Achilles tendon over the heel.


The tibial nerve (S1, S2) stimulates the greater part of the muscles of the calf. This l nerve passes through the popliteal fossa. It gives branches to the gastrocnemius, popliteus, soleus and plantaris muscles.

Blood Supply:

The supply of the blood in the muscles of the calf results from the popliteal artery which divides into the frontal and posterior tibial arteries. The fibular artery originates from the tibial artery.

Calf pain

This pain is often due to sprain in muscles and cramps caused by exercise with low dietary minerals. Also, it can happen due to:

  • Diabetes
  • Shin splints
  • Lower back
  • Injury
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Strain
  • Swelling
  • Numbness
  • Sciatica
  • Varicose veins
  • Muscle overexertion
  • Compartment syndrome

Calf Injury

The unexpected movement can stress the muscles of the calves and stretch them further than their normal limits. It is often caused during sports where we have to push off with our foot speedily for an unexpected burst of speed including:

  • Tennis
  • Baseball
  • Soccer
  • Racquetball


  • Ankle circles
  • High Knees
  • Box jump
  • Ankle stretch
  • Butt Kicks
  • Stair climbing
  • Elevated squats
  • Leg stretches
  • Barbell split squat


  • Ahmad has a problem with his calves.
  • Ali has not played for the last two days due to a calf injury.
  • I feel a little pain in my calf.
  • Saba injured her calve muscle while performing.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Mention the name of the important calf muscle.

The Gastrocnemius muscle is important.

Do the muscles of the calves assist in blood pumping?

These muscles are known as the second heart and it begins pumping when the legs move.

Which of the muscles is responsible for the circulation of blood?

Skeletal muscle provides blood circulation.

How can I enhance my calf’s size?

You can enhance your size by:

  • Running
  • Walking
  • Hiking

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