A small but important muscle at the back of the knee.
The popliteus muscle at the back of the knee operates to unlock the knee when the foot is on the ground during walking or running by laterally rotating the femur (thighbone) on the tibia (shinbone). It is one of the important structures of the 'postero-lateral corner' at the back of the knee.
The popliteus muscle or its tendon can be torn anywhere along its length, but tears are seldom in isolation and there are usually other structures damaged as well. The tendon can also be intact but torn off from its attachment to the femur together with a little fragment of the bone - this is called 'avulsion' of the popliteus tendon.
Open access article - Mariani PP and Margheritini F. Partial isolated rupture of the popliteus tendon in a professional soccer player: a case report. Sports Medicine, Arthroscopy, Rehabilitation, Therapy & Technology 2009, 1:18
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