The Soleus Muscle, The Second Heart

Deep and superficial layers of posterior leg m...


The heart is an amazing organ that pumps between 5 and 7 thousand liters of blood a day.  Yet, it is not the only pump in the body.  While the heart pumps blood out towards the extremities, deep muscles assist in pumping blood back towards the heart.  One of the most important muscles for assisting blood flow back to the heart is the soleus muscle of the calf.

The soleus muscle is a large flat muscle in the lower leg.  Part of the soleus can be palpated directly, while the rest lies underneath the gastrocnemius muscle.  The location of the soleus muscles are important.  They are on the extreme distal end of the body and furthest away from the heart.  When standing upright, the soleus resides at the body’s lowest gravitational point.  These two factors put the soleus in an ideal position to work synergistically with the heart as an efficient pumping system.  The heart pumps arterial blood, while the soleus pumps venous blood.  But, this occurs best when the soleus muscle is healthy and supple.

Problems with the soleus are a frequent cause of pain and suffering.  Athletes and inactive people can both be affected.  This happens because the soleus is used in many activities, such as walking, running, and cycling.  It is a hardworking muscle that tends to get heavy use and very little care.  Most people don’t take enough time to stretch and treat the soleus.  Hence muscle tightness and trigger points can form, causing the soleus to hinder circulation rather than help.

Tight, stiff soleus muscles can radiate pain to the heel, ankle, and as far away as the lower back.  Complications from soleus tightness include:  ankle instability, calf cramps, varicose veins, phlebitis, lower leg edema, low blood pressure, orthostatic hypotension (postural hypotension), and hypersensitivity of lower back.  Pain that is mimicked by tight soleus muscle include:  plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, stress fracture, shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, and thrombosis.

Treatment for the soleus muscle should begin with natural therapy.  Home treatments such as strength training, stretching and self massage should be done regularly to maintain the muscle’s pliability, density, range of motion, and function.

At August Point Wellness, we believe that many of the soleus muscle issues can be addressed through acupuncture, massage therapy, and stretching.

An example treatment that we would use to address tight soleus:

Diet and Lifestyle in Preventing Ovulatory Disorder Infertility

English: veggies

Fresh Vegetables!

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health have proven that sticking to a “fertility diet” was associated with a lower risk of ovulatory disorder infertility (ODI).  By following a diet with “higher consumption of monounsaturated rather than trans fats, vegetable rather than animal protein sources, low glycemic carbohydrates, high fat dairy, multivitamins, and iron from plants and supplements”, one can reduce infertility caused by ODI.

What is ovulatory disorder infertility?  ODI is infertility based upon issues concerning the release of a follicle from the ovary.  Ovulatory disorders can manifest as a lack of ovulation (anovulation) or irregular ovulation (oligoovulation).  In anovulation, the eggs may not develop properly for fertilization.  In some cases, the eggs don’t develop at all.  In oligoovulation, the periods are irregular.  It is possible for menstruation to still occur in women, even without ovulation.  Therefore, a monthly period does not necessarily equate to the ability to conceive.

How is ovulatory disorder infertility diagnosed?  ODI is diagnosed through patient medical history, family medical history, temperature charts, blood tests, and ultrasound.  Any combination of the above data can be used to diagnose ODI.  But since the cause of ODI is unknown, it remains that each individual will require and respond differently to treatment.  Reasonably, a doctor should prescribe specific treatment relevant to each individual.

The findings of the study show the importance of diet and lifestyle in regards to fertility.  By eating healthy, controlling weight gain, exercising frequently, and managing stress, ODI can be influenced in a positive way.  Although not noted in the results, it can be mentioned that the woman’s monthly blood hormone activity is more balanced (i.e. LH, FSH, Progesterone, etc.) with a well-regulated period.  The good news is that these tools can be integrated into any Eastern (acupuncture, naturopathic medicine, massage) or Western (IVF, ICSI, IUI, cryopreservation, etc.) program.  The best part is that making lifestyle adjustments for the better provides a healthy environment to nurture a growing fetus.  Also, these lifestyle changes cost next to nothing and the benefits can be reaped long after conceiving and carrying your baby to term.

NOTE:  Be sure to notify your doctor of all treatments you may be undertaking as well as any changes to your lifestyle.

As a recap, here are some food ideas that may help reduce ovulatory disorder infertility:

  • Replace saturated and trans fats with monounsaturated fats.  (Typically monounsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature.  Examples: olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil)
  • Consume vegetable rather than animal protein sources.  Some vegetable foods high in proteins are legumes, nuts, beans, seeds. (Examples: soybeans, kidney beans, peanuts, almonds, lentils)
  • Eat low glycemic carbohydrates.  (Examples: unsweetened yogurt, berries, cheese, eggs, fresh vegetables)
  • Take a multivitamin.  (For women trying to conceive, consider supplementing your diet with a prenatal vitamin.)
For more information on the Harvard study: