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Lateral plantar muscles of foot

The plantar muscles of the foot are traditionally studied in either layers or groups. If studying by layers, we can organise these muscles into four primary layers:

The plantar muscles of the foot can alternatively be considered by medial, central and lateral groups. This article will discuss the lateral plantar muscles. 

Key facts about the lateral plantar muscles

Abductor digiti minimi

Origins: Calcaneal tuberosity, Plantar aponeurosis

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

Innervation: Lateral plantar nerve ( S1-S3)

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

Flexor digiti minimi brevis

Origins: Base of metatarsal bone 5, Long plantar ligament

Insertions: Base of proximal phalanx of digit 5

Innervation: Lateral plantar nerve (S2-S3)

Functions: Metatarsophalangeal joint 5: Toe flexion

Opponens digiti minimi

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

Insertions: Lateral border of metatarsal bone 5

Innervation: Lateral plantar nerve (S2-S3)

Functions: Metatarsophalangeal joint 5: Toe abduction, Toe flexion

  1. Anatomy and supply
    1. Abductor digiti minimi muscle 
    2. Flexor digiti minimi brevis muscle 
    3. Opponens digiti minimi muscle
    4. Anatomical relations
  2. Function
  3. Clinical note
  4. Sources
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Anatomy and supply

Lateral plantar muscles anatomy
Lateral plantar muscles (inferior view)

The lateral chamber formed by the plantar fascia contains three muscles. Their muscle bellies form the surface of the lateral foot sole (ball of the little toe).

They are all innervated by the lateral plantar nerve (S1-S2), a branch of the tibial nerve. The following muscles lie within the lateral compartment.

Abductor digiti minimi muscle 

This muscle originates at the calcaneal tuberosity and plantar aponeurosis and inserts at the bases proximal phalanx and metatarsal bone of the little toe.

Flexor digiti minimi brevis muscle 

The FDM runs from the metatarsal bone of the little toe and long plantar ligament to the base of the proximal phalanx of the little toe.

Opponens digiti minimi muscle

The opponens digiti minimi, when present, originates at the long plantar ligament, the base of the fifth metatarsal bone and the tendon sheath of the fibularis longus muscle. Thereupon it inserts again at the lateral border of the fifth metatarsal bone. This muscle is not found in all human bodies.

Anatomical relations

Lateral plantar nerve (inferior view)

Besides the above mentioned muscles there are more structures lying within the lateral chamber of the plantar fascia supplying the lateral foot sole (lateral plantar artery, vein and nerve).


The lateral muscles of the foot sole move the little toe, or fifth digit of the foot through flexion (abductor digiti minimi and flexor digiti minimi brevis muscle), abduction (abductor digiti minimi muscle) and opposition (opponens digiti minimi muscle).

Furthermore they actively support the longitudinal arch of the foot. However in comparison to the medial muscles of the foot they are poorly developed and are relatively less important.

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