The calf is the back portion of the lower leg
The calf (Latin: sura) is the back portion of the lower leg in human anatomy. The muscles within the calf correspond to the posterior compartment of the leg. The two largest muscles within this compartment are known together as the calf muscle and attach to the heel via the Achilles tendon. Several other, smaller muscles attach to the knee, the ankle, and via long tendons to the toes.
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The calf is composed of the muscles of the posterior compartment of the leg: The gastrocnemius and soleus (composing the triceps surae muscle) and the tibialis posterior. The sural nerve provides innervation.
Idiopathic leg cramps are common and typically affect the calf muscles at night. Edema also is common and in many cases idiopathic. In a small study of factory workers in good health, wearing compression garments helped to reduce edema and the pain associated with edema. A small study of runners found that wearing knee-high compression stockings while running significantly improved performance.
The circumference of the calf has been used to estimate selected health risks. In Spain, a study of 22,000 persons 65 or older found that a smaller calf circumference was associated with a higher risk of undernutrition. In France, a study of 6265 persons 65 or older found an inverse correlation between calf circumference and carotid plaques.
Calf augmentation and restoration is available, using a range of prosthesis devices and surgical techniques.
Society and culture
Calf raises are a method of exercising the gastrocnemius, tibialis posterior and soleus muscles of the lower leg. The movement performed is plantar flexion, a.k.a. ankle extension.
Historically, the absence of calf, meaning a lower leg without a prominent calf muscle, was regarded by some authors as a sign of inferiority: it is well known that monkeys have no calves, and still less do they exist among the lower orders of mammals.
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