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Dorsal muscles of the foot - want to learn more about it?

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Dorsal muscles of the foot

The muscles of the dorsum of the foot are a group of two muscles, which together represent the dorsal foot musculature. They are named extensor digitorum brevis and extensor hallucis brevis.

The muscles lie within a flat fascia on the dorsum of the foot (fascia dorsalis pedis) and are innervated by the deep fibular or peroneal nerve.

This article will discuss the origins, insertions, innervation, functions, and some clinical aspects about those two dorsal muscles of the foot.

Key facts about the dorsal muscles of the foot
Extensor digitorum brevis

Origins: calcaneus

Insertions: dorsal aponeurosis, middle phalanges of toes 2-4

Innervation: deep fibular/peroneal nerve

Action: dorsiflexion of toes 2-4

Extensor hallucis brevis

Origins: calcaneus

Insertions: dorsal aponeurosis, proximal phalanx of big toe

Innervation: deep fibular/peroneal nerve

Action: dorsiflexion of the hallux

Anatomy and supply

The muscle bellies of the dorsal muscles of the foot form the surface of the lateral dorsum of the foot. The deep fibular/peroneal nerve (L5-S1) is responsible for their innervation. 

Muscles of the dorsum of the foot

Extensor digitorum brevis muscle 

The EDB originates at the calcaneus and divides into three muscle bellies whose tendons insert at the dorsal aponeurosis and the middle phalanges of the second to fourth toes.

Extensor hallucis brevis muscle

The EHB also originates at the calcaneus and inserts at the dorsal aponeurosis and proximal phalanx of the big toe.

Dorsal fascia of the foot

The dorsal fascia of the foot is the continuation of the deep fascia of the leg (crural fascia).

Apart from the muscles of the dorsum of the foot, it incloses the tendons of the anterior muscles of the leg, the dorsalis pedis vessels (continuation of the anterior tibial artery) and branches of the deep peroneal nerve. In contrast the dorsal venous network (rete venosum dorsale pedis) lies above the fascia and is easily visible due to the relatively thin and low-fat skin.

Function

The contraction of the extensor digitorum brevis muscle results in dorsiflexion, or hyperextension of the second to fourth toes, occuring at the metatarsophalangeal joints of the same digits. The extensor hallucis brevis muscle similarly causes dorsiflexion of the metatarsophalangeal joint of the big toe (MTP I).

Recommended video: Functions of the dorsal muscles of the foot
Functions and anatomy of the dorsal muscles of the foot shown with 3D model animation.

Interestingly the dorsal foot muscles generally have no insertion at the little toe. This means that the little toe can only be extended by the extensor digitorum longus muscle only. The dorsal aponeurosis of the toes supports the effect of the dorsal foot muscles by redirecting the force line of their tendons to the longitudinal axis.

Clinical note

The subcutis of the dorsum of the foot is quite flexible and elastic. It quickly tends to accumulate fluids and swell (edema). Edema of the dorsum of the foot is a common symptom in numerous clinical conditions, e.g. right heart failure, venous and lymphatic obstructions, inflammation and allergic reactions.

In chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) the edema occurs particularly after lack of exercise or standing too long.

Dorsal muscles of the foot - 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 852,397 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

References:

  • M. Schünke/E. Schulte/U. Schumacher: Prometheus – LernAtlas der Anatomie – Allgemeine Anatomie und Bewegungssystem, 2.Auflage, Thieme Verlag (2007), S.486-487
  • W. Graumann/D.Sasse: CompactLehrbuch der gesamten Anatomie – Band 2 – Bewegungsapparat, Schattauer Verlag (2003), S.219-222
  • J. W. Rohen: Topographische Anatomie, 10.Auflage, Schattauer Verlag (2008), S.170-171
  • D. Drenckhahn/J. Waschke: Taschenbuch Anatomie, Urban & Fischer Verlag/Elsevier (2008), S.98-99
  • B. Block: POL – Leitsymptome – Herz-Kreislauf-System, Thieme Verlag (2006), S.101-113

Author:

  • Achudhan Karunaharamoorthy

Illustrators:

  • Muscles of the dorsum of the foot - Liene Znotina 
© 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.

Related Atlas Images

Muscles of the foot

Calcaneus

Main muscles of the lower extremity

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