What Is an Example of Plantar Flexion?

plantar flexed
Examples of plantar flexion include standing on tiptoes, pressing the gas pedal, and pedaling a bicycle.

Plantar flexion is a movement in which the foot is directed down toward the ground or away from the body. In contrast, dorsiflexion describes the movement toward the upper side or back. The plantar surface is the anatomical name given to the sole of the foot. It is the term used when you extend your foot.

Plantar flexion is used in many of our daily actions, including:

Our range of motion and strength has a role in how efficiently and effectively we perform these actions. As a result, it's critical to keep the plantarflexion muscles strong and healthy because they're involved in so many of our daily activities.

What happens if there are limitations in plantar flexion?

Plantar flexion limitations result in a reduced ability to generate force when running and walking.

  • For athletes and active people, this means slower propulsion and decreased agility.
  • In everyday life, this may manifest as a shorter stride or shuffle step and can cause problems further up the kinetic chain, such as knee hip pain or low back pain, due to decreased ankle mobility.


  • Accidents or trauma to the ankle joint, such as strains, sprains, or even bone fractures, are common causes of limitation.
  • Plantar flexion contracture is another possibility. The foot cannot point downward or plantarflex at all in this condition. Fortunately, this condition is treatable with stretches and various exercises. It can occur in people who have been in a cast for a long time and those who have muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy.
  • Because so many muscles are involved in plantar flexion, pain during plantar flexing could indicate numerous things. Inability to plantarflex, for example, could indicate that you have torn the gastrocnemius or soleus. Plantar flexion pain could indicate impinged ankle injuries.


  • The initial protocol includes rest, ice (or contrast heat/cold therapy), compression, and elevation, which may protect the ankle while the tissues are mending and help control inflammation.
  • Stretching and strengthening can help keep the ankle mobile and prevent reinjury in the future. Resisted plantar flexion and toe raises are two excellent plantar flexion exercises. Your physiotherapist is the best person to guide you regarding the exercises most suited to your condition.

Because of the various causes involved in plantar flexion injury, it is best to consult your doctor about your symptoms so that they can provide you with an appropriate treatment plan. In more severe cases, surgery may be required.

What muscles are involved in plantar flexion?

Plantar flexion appears to be a simple movement, but it necessitates the use of numerous muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the leg and foot. The majority of the muscles are centered on the tibia (shin bone) and fibula (a thinner bone that supports the tibia). The tibial nerve is the main nerve that innervates the muscles involved in plantar flexion.

The anatomy of plantarflexion muscles are as follows:

Table. The anatomy of plantar flexion muscles
Muscle Description Examples of uses Best stretches and exercises
  • The largest and most superficial of the ankle muscles
Helps in walking, running, and standing on tiptoe Calf raises
  • Broad and strong muscle
  • Merges into the gastrocnemius to
Standing upright Seated calf raises and soleus stretch
  • The plantaris tendon connects directly to the heel bone by running beneath both the soleus and gastrocnemius muscles
  • This muscle works with the Achilles tendon to flex both the knee and ankle joints
Standing on the toes or pointing the foot in plantar flexion Heel stretches
Tibialis posterior
  • The deepest of all the calf muscles
  • Helps support the arch of the foot
  • The most central leg muscle and vital in keeping the lower leg stable
  • Also involved in inversion when you turn the sole of your foot inward
Pushing down car pedals Tibialis posterior exercise with a band
Peroneus longus
  • Sometimes referred to as fibularis longus and brevis due to their attachments on the fibula
  • Peroneus brevis ensures the foot is stable and any injury may weaken the ability to perform plantar flexion
  • Tibialis posterior and peroneus longus work together in the middle foot to create support for the weight-bearing arches of the foot and help keep the ankle stable when standing or rising onto the toes
Walking on uneven surfaces
  • Active eversion with band
  • Peroneal stretch
Peroneus brevis
  • Peroneus longus and peroneus brevis help keep the foot stable
Walking on uneven surfaces
  • Active eversion with a band
  • Peroneal stretch
Flexor hallucis longus
  • Bends the big toe when you curl up your foot
  • Supports the longitudinal arch of the foot
Very important for walking and balancing, especially while on tiptoe Soleus stretch
Flexor digitorum longus
  • Provides power to flex the toes themselves
  • Helps support the arch of the foot
Gripping with the toes Soleus stretch

In plantar flexion, as well as dorsiflexion, all these muscles and tendons work together to keep the body balanced and stable. When one of these muscles or tendons fails, the entire system is weakened, resulting in an injury and a reduced range of motion.


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Best Exercises for Plantar Flexion: https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/best-exercises-plantar-flexion

Sample records for plantar flexion exercise: https://worldwidescience.org/topicpages/p/plantar+flexion+exercise.html

Effects of Immobilization on Plantar-Flexion Torque, Fatigue Resistance, and Functional Ability Following an Ankle Fracture: https://academic.oup.com/ptj/article/80/8/769/2857736