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Flexor hallucis brevis muscle: want to learn more about it?

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Flexor hallucis brevis muscle

Flexor hallucis brevis muscle (Musculus flexor hallucis brevis)

Flexor hallucis brevis is a small intrinsic muscle of the foot. It is located deep within the sole, on the medial aspect. 

Plantar muscles of the foot can be grouped by their position in two ways; into either one of the four muscular layers of the foot or into the medial, central or lateral group. Because of its position, in the horizontal plane the flexor hallucis brevis belongs to the medial compartment, together with the abductor and adductor hallucis muscles. In the vertical plane, it is grouped into the third layer of plantar muscles, along with two other muscles; adductor hallucis and flexor digiti minimi muscle.

Flexor hallucis brevis is composed of a medial and lateral muscle belly whose tendons attach at the proximal phalanx of the great toe (hallux). At these attachment points, two sesamoid bones develop, embedded in the tendons on each side.

The muscles main function is to flex the great toe at the metatarsophalangeal joint. However, flexor hallucis brevis is also involved in maintaining the medial longitudinal arch of the foot.

Key facts about the flexor hallucis brevis
Origin Tendon of tibialis posterior, medial cuneiform bone, lateral cuneiform bone, cuboid bone
Insertion Lateral and medial aspects of base of proximal phalanx of great toe
Action Metatarsophalangeal joint 1: Toe flexion; 
Support of longitudinal arch of foot
Innervation Medial plantar nerve (S1, S2)
Blood supply First metatarsal artery (plantar arch); superficial branch of the medial plantar artery (posterior tibial artery)

This article will teach you all you need to know about the anatomy and function of the flexor hallucis brevis muscle.

Origin and insertion

The flexor hallucis brevis is a medial plantar muscle of the foot. It is composed of two muscle bellies that differ in origin due to the muscle arising from a bifurcate tendon. The lateral head arises from the medial part of the plantar surface of the cuboid bone, posterior to the groove for the fibularis longus tendon, and the adjacent surface of the lateral cuneiform bone. The medial head of flexor hallucis brevis arises from the lateral division of the tibialis posterior tendon and the middle band of the medial intermuscular septum.

The muscle also consists of lateral and medial bellies which run anteriorly and medially towards the great toe. The distal tendon of each belly terminates by inserting onto each side of the base of the proximal phalanx of the hallux. In the process, the tendon of the medial belly blends with the tendon of abductor hallucis muscle, while the tendon of the lateral belly blends with the tendon of adductor hallucis muscle.

Relations

The flexor hallucis brevis is found in the third layer of the medial plantar muscles of the foot, situated between the abductor hallucis medially and flexor digitorum brevis laterally. As the flexor hallucis brevis courses anteromedially towards the proximal phalanx of the great toe, the tendon of flexor hallucis longus passes in between its medial and lateral muscle bellies to attach at the base of the distal phalanx of great toe. The medial plantar nerve lies along the lateral aspect of flexor hallucis brevis.

Two small hallux sesamoid bones develop within the muscles’ distal tendons, near their attachment sites on either side of the hallux. These hallux sesamoid bones are small paired ovoid-shaped ossicles of the foot that are embedded within both the medial and lateral tendons of flexor hallucis brevis muscle bellies. As they lay on either side of the hallux, they are named the medial (tibial) and lateral (fibular) sesamoid bones of the first metatarsophalangeal joint. The hallux sesamoid bones articulate with the head of the first metatarsal, acting as a fulcrum to increase the leverage of flexor hallucis longus and flexor hallucis brevis.

Innervation

Flexor hallucis brevis is innervated by the medial plantar nerve (S1, S2), which is one of the terminal branches of the tibial nerve.

Blood supply

Flexor hallucis brevis muscle receives arterial blood supply from the first metatarsal artery, which branches off the convexity of the plantar arch. The plantar arch is a semicircular anastomosis formed by the medial and lateral plantar arteries. Flexor hallucis brevis muscle is also supplied by the superficial branch of the medial plantar artery that arises from the posterior tibial artery.

Function

The primary function of the flexor hallucis brevis is flexion of the great toe at the metatarsophalangeal joint. This muscle aids the flexor hallucis longus in the toe-off phase of locomotion, increasing the final push-off from the ground during activities such as walking, running and jumping.

The fact that the flexor hallucis brevis tendons blend with the adductor hallucis and abductor hallucis signifies its importance in providing stability of the great toe during the aforementioned activities, ensuring maximum force translation during the thrust phase.

Flexor hallucis brevis also plays a role in the maintenance of the medial longitudinal arch by acting as a bowstring between the proximal phalanx of the hallux and tarsal bones. Muscular contraction brings the bones closer together, thereby raising the arch.

Flexor hallucis brevis muscle: 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.

What do you prefer to learn with?

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

Show references

References:

  • Palastanga, N., & Soames, R. (2012). Anatomy and human movement: structure and function (6th ed.). Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.
  • Moore, K. L., Dalley, A. F., & Agur, A. M. R. (2014). Clinically Oriented Anatomy (7th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
  • Standring, S. (2016). Gray's Anatomy (41tst ed.). Edinburgh: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone.

Illustrators:

  • Flexor hallucis brevis muscle (Musculus flexor hallucis brevis) - Liene Znotina
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