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Ankle and foot anatomy - want to learn more about it?

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Ankle and foot anatomy

Ankle and foot - left lateral view

If you’ve watched a documentary film about primates likes chimps or orangutans you may have thought how useful it would be if we could use our feet the same way we use our hands. Then we could underline our anatomy textbook with our hands, and make flashcards with our feet at the same time.

But, evolution has refined our feet to be compatible with walking bipedally. This is why the anatomy of the foot might roughly resemble the anatomy of the hand but is still different enough to have different functions. Thus, this page is dedicated to the anatomy of the ankle and foot.
 

Ankle anatomy

The ankle joint, also known as the talocrural joint, allows dorsiflexion and plantar flexion of the foot. It is made up of three joints: upper ankle joint (tibiotarsal), talocalcaneonavicular, and subtalar joints. The last two together are called the lower ankle joint.

Ankle joint - an overview.

The upper ankle joint is formed by the inferior surfaces of tibia and fibula, and the superior surface of talus. The lower ankle joint is formed by the talus, calcaneus, and navicular bone. The joint is supported by a set of ankle ligaments: the medial collateral or deltoid ligament, and lateral collateral ligament.

We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know about the ankle joint and its ligaments with these articles, video tutorials, and quizzes.

Ankle Joint
Ankle joint
Ankle joint
Joints and Ligaments of the Foot
Bones and ligaments of the leg
Ligaments of the foot

Bones of the foot

There are 26 bones in the foot, divided into three groups:

  • Seven tarsal bones
  • Five metatarsal bones
  • Fourteen phalanges

Bones and ligaments of the foot diagram.

Tarsals make up a strong weight bearing platform. They are homologous to the carpals in the wrist and are divided into three groups: proximal, intermediate, and distal. 

The easiest way to learn all about the tarsal bones is to review them one by one. You can do that with our articles, videos, and quizzes.

Talus
Joints and blood supply of talus
Talus
Talus
Overview of the calcaneus
Calcaneus
Calcaneus
Navicular Bone
Cuboid Bone
Cuboid Bone
Cuneiform bones
Cuneiform Bones

Metatarsals are homologous to the metacarpals of the hand. They are involved in supporting body weight. Phalanges also parallel the hand, the lateral four toes are made up of three phalanges (proximal, middle, and distal). Whilst the great toe (hallux) is comprised of only two phalanges (proximal and distal).

We encourage you to take a look at our video tutorial and quiz to find out more about the bones of the foot and foot ligaments.

Bones of the foot
Bones of the foot
Arches of the Foot

Joints of the foot

Besides the ankle joint which connects the foot with the leg, the bones of the foot articulate among themselves through many synovial joints. There are four groups of foot joints: intertarsal, tarsometatarsal, metatarsophalangeal, and interphalangeal. 

  • The intertarsal joints are between the tarsal bones. These joints are the subtalar (talocalcaneal), talocalcaneonavicular, calcaneocuboid, cuneonavicular, cuboideonavicular, and intercuneiform joints. 
  • Tarsometatarsal joints are the articulations between the tarsals and metatarsals.
  • Metatarsophalangeal joints (MTP) are the joints between the heads of metatarsals and corresponding bases of the proximal phalanges of the foot. 
  • Interphalangeal joints are between the phalanges of the foot. The great toe has only one interphalangeal joint, while the other four toes have a proximal (PIP) and a distal (DIP) interphalangeal joint.

Want to review joints and ligaments of the foot in more detail? Sure, we recommend you this article.

Joints and Ligaments of the Foot

Muscles of the foot

Foot muscles contribute to eversion and inversion of foot, movements of the toes, as well as plantar flexion and dorsiflexion. We encourage you to watch this video tutorial and then quiz yourself to learn all about the foot muscles.

Muscles of the foot
Muscles of the foot

The foot muscles are divided into plantar and dorsal groups. There are only two muscles in the dorsal group, while the plantar muscles are further subdivided into three groups; lateral, central, and medial. 

Muscles of the foot - an overview.

The dorsal foot muscles are in the dorsum of foot and they extend the toes. They are the extensor digitorum brevis and extensor hallucis brevis muscles.

Key facts about the dorsal foot muscles
Extensor digitorum brevis

Origin: Superolateral surface of calcaneus bone

Insertion: Middle phalanges of toes 2-4

Innervation: Deep fibular/peroneal nerve (S1, S2)

Function: Distal interphalangeal joints 2-4: Toe extension

Extensor hallucis brevis

Origin: Superolateral surface of calcaneus bone

Insertion: Proximal phalanx of great toe

Innervation: Deep fibular/peroneal nerve (S1, S2)

Function: Metatarsophalangeal joint 1: Toe extension

You want to know everything about the dorsal foot muscles? Sure, we’ve got some articles and videos ready for you.

Dorsal muscles of the foot
Functions of the dorsal muscles of the foot

The plantar foot muscles are divided into three groups of muscles by the deep fasciae of the foot: lateral, central, and medial. Note that plantar muscles can also be studied as four layers, but here they are presented as groups.

The lateral plantar muscles act upon the fifth toe. They are the abductor digiti minimi, flexor digiti minimi brevis, and opponens digiti minimi muscles. 

Key facts about the lateral plantar muscles
Abductor digiti minimi

Origin: Calcaneal tuberosity, Plantar aponeurosis

Insertion: Base of proximal phalanx of digit 5, Metatarsal bone 5

Innervation: Lateral plantar nerve (S1- S3)

Function: Metatarsophalangeal joint 5: Toe abduction, Toe flexion; Supports longitudinal arch of foot

Flexor digiti minimi brevis

Origin: Base of metatarsal bone 5, Long plantar ligament

Insertion: Base of proximal phalanx of digit 5

Innervation: Lateral plantar nerve (S2- S3)

Function: Metatarsophalangeal joint 5: Toe flexion

Opponens digiti minimi

Origin: Long plantar ligament, Base of metatarsal bone 5, Tendon sheath of fibularis longus

Insertion: Lateral border of metatarsal bone 5

Innervation: Lateral plantar nerve (S2- S3)

Function: Metatarsophalangeal joint 5: Toe abduction, Toe flexion

Learn more about the lateral plantar muscles with these article and video tutorials.

Lateral plantar muscles of foot
Functions of the lateral plantar muscles of the foot

Central plantar muscles act upon the lateral four toes. They are the flexor digitorum brevis, quadratus plantae, four lumbricals, three plantar interossei, and four dorsal interossei muscles.

Key facts about the central plantar muscles
Flexor digitorum brevis

Origin: Medial process of calcaneal tuberosity, Plantar aponeurosis

Insertion: Middle phalanges of digits 2-5

Innervation: Medial plantar nerve (S1- S3)

Function: Metatarsophalangeal joints 2-5: Toe flexion; Supports longitudinal arch of foot

Quadratus plantae

Origin: Medial surface of calcaneus bone, Lateral process of calcaneal tuberosity

Insertion: Tendon of flexor digitorum longus

Innervation: Lateral plantar nerve (S1- S3)

Function: Metatarsophalangeal joints 2-5: Toe flexion

Lumbricals

Origin: Tendons of flexor digitorum longus

Insertion: Medial bases of proximal phalanges and dorsal aponeurosis of digits 2-5

Innervation: Lumbrical 1: Medial plantar nerve (S2,S3); Lumbricals 2-4: Lateral plantar nerve (S2-S3)

Function: Metatarsophalangeal joints 2-5: Toe flexion, Toes adduction; Interphalangeal joints 2-5: Toes extension

Plantar interossei

Origin: Medial aspects of metatarsal bones 3-5

Insertion: Medial bases of proximal phalanges of digits 3-5

Innervation: Lateral plantar nerve (S2- S3)

Function: Metatarsophalangeal joints 3-5: Toe flexion, Toes adduction; Interphalangeal joints 3-5: Toes extension

Dorsal interossei

Origin: Opposing sides of metatarsal bones 1-5

Insertion: Medial base of proximal phalanx of digit 2, Lateral bases of proximal phalanges and dorsal aponeurosis of digits 2-4

Innervation: Lateral plantar nerve (S2- S3)

Function: Metatarsophalangeal joints 2-4: Toe flexion, Toe abduction; Interphalangeal joints 2-4: Toe extension

It may seem that there are a lot of the central plantar muscles. But don’t worry, check out our article and video tutorials. You’ll catch up with everything you need to know about them.

Central plantar muscles of the foot
Lumbrical muscles of the foot

Medial plantar muscles act upon the great toe, or hallux. They are the abductor hallucis, adductor hallucis, and flexor hallucis brevis muscles.

Key facts about the medial plantar muscles
Abductor hallucis muscle

Origin: Medial process of calcaneal tuberosity, Flexor retinaculum, Plantar aponeurosis

Insertion: Base of proximal phalanx of great toe

Innervation: Medial plantar nerve (S1, S2, S3)

Function: Metatarsophalangeal joint 1: Toe abduction, Toe flexion; Support of longitudinal arch of foot

Adductor hallucis muscle

Origin

- Oblique head: bases metatarsal bones 2-4, Cuboid bone, Lateral cuneiform bone

- Transverse head: plantar metatarsophalangeal ligaments of toes 3-5

Insertion: Lateral aspect of base of proximal phalanx of great toe

Innervation: Lateral plantar nerve (S2,S3)

Function: Metatarsophalangeal joint 1: Toe adduction, Toe flexion; Support of longitudinal and transverse arches of foot

Flexor hallucis brevis muscle

Origin: Tendon of tibialis posterior, Medial cuneiform bone, Lateral cuneiform bone, Cuboid bone

Insertion: Lateral and medial aspects of base of promixal phalanx of great toe

Innervation: Medial plantar nerve (S1,S2)

Function: Metatarsophalangeal joint 1: Toe flexion; Support of longitudinal arch of foot

Note that tendons in the foot are protected with tendon sheaths. We can help you with both tendons sheaths and with medial plantar muscles. Check out these articles and video tutorials to learn about them in a fun and engaging way. 

Tendon Sheaths in the Foot
Tendon
Medial plantar muscles of the foot
Functions of the medial plantar muscles

To master all lower limb muscles, check out this ebook with high-quality illustrations. It provides a quick reference to lower limb muscle origins, insertions, innervations and functions.

Muscle Anatomy Charts

Video tutorials

Ankle joint
Talus
Joints and blood supply of talus
Bones and ligaments of the leg
Bones of the foot
Calcaneus
Overview of the calcaneus
Cuboid Bone
Cuneiform bones
Muscles of the foot
Muscles of the dorsum of the foot
Functions of the dorsal muscles of the foot
Lateral muscles of the sole of the foot
Functions of the lateral plantar muscles of the foot
Central muscles of the sole of the foot
Functions of the central plantar muscles of the foot
Lumbrical muscles of the foot
Medial muscles of the sole of the foot
Functions of the medial plantar muscles

Quizzes

Ankle joint
Ligaments of the foot
Talus
Bones of the foot
Calcaneus
Muscles of the foot
Tendon

This custom quiz tests your knowledge about the ankle and foot. It specifically focuses on bones, ligaments, and muscles (including attachments, innervation, functions). Have a go to conquer the anatomy of the ankle and foot!

Bones, ligaments and muscles of the foot

Ankle and foot anatomy - want to learn more about it?

Our engaging videos, interactive quizzes, in-depth articles and HD atlas are here to get you top results faster.

Sign up for your free Kenhub account today and join over 1,029,446 successful anatomy students.

“I would honestly say that Kenhub cut my study time in half.” – Read more. Kim Bengochea Kim Bengochea, Regis University, Denver

Show references

Article, review and layout:

  • Jana Vaskovic
  • Alexandra Osika
  • Nicola McLaren

Illustrations:

  • Ankle and foot - left lateral view - Liene Znotina
  • Ankle joint - an overview - Johannes Reiss
  • Bones and ligaments of the foot diagram - Mohammed Albakkar
  • Muscles of the foot - an overview - Mohammed Albakkar
© Unless stated otherwise, all content, including illustrations are exclusive property of Kenhub GmbH, and are protected by German and international copyright laws. All rights reserved.

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