What is Popliteus?
Popliteus is a muscle located at the back of the knee joint. It crosses the back of the joint, almost horizontally, just below the crease of the knee. Its function involves rotating the shin bone inwards, as well as 'unlocking' the knee when bending from a fully straight position. The popliteus muscle can be injured in one of two ways. More often than not it is an overuse injury, resulting in increased tone (i.e. tightness) in the muscle. This is usually because of poor biomechanics, training errors and tight hamstrings. Or it can be torn, usually during a fall or tackle etc, where the knee is over-straightened. Symptoms of a popliteus injury include pain at the back of the knee anbd tenderness when pressing just below the crease of the knee. There may be pain when bending the knee against resistance, especially when the shin is rotated outwards.
Treatment should initially involve resting the injury from aggravating activities and applying ice in acute cases where a tear is suspected. A sports injury specialist may use sports massage techniques to reduce muscle tension and advise you on exercises such as hamstring stretches.
In acute injuries it is always adviseable to apply ice packs or cold therapy products to help reduce pain and inflammation. A knee support may help a little later down the road to keep the area warm and increase blood flow to the injured muscle.