Foot and ankle anatomy is quite complex. The foot consists of thirty three bones, twenty six joints and over a hundred muscles, ligaments and tendons. These all work together to bear weight, allow movement and provide a stable base for us to stand and move on.
The foot needs to be strong and stable yet flexible to support activities like walking, running, jumping and kicking.
When thinking about the ankle anatomy, it’s easier to divide the foot bones into three categories: the hindfoot, midfoot and forefoot.
The Hindfoot: The hindfoot consists of the ankle joint found at the bottom of the leg and is where the end of the tibia and fibula meet the ankle bone known as the talus. It also includes the heel bone, known as the calcaneus.
The Midfoot: The five bones of the midfoot are what make up our foot arches. They are arranged in a pyramid shape to be the shock absorbers of the feet. There is the navicular, cuboid and three cuneiform bones in the midfoot.
The Forefoot: There are 19 bones in the forefoot. Five metatarsals connect the midfoot to the toes and 14 phalanges make up the toes themselves.
Another important part of foot anatomy is the muscles. There are more than twenty muscles in the foot and they are commonly divided into two groups, the intrinsics and extrinsics.
The Intrinsics: The muscles that originate in the foot itself, on either the top (dorsum) or base (plantar) of the foot.
The Extrinsics: The muscles that originate from the front and back of the lower leg and and attach into the foot.
Muscles work in pairs, simultaneously contracting (shortening) and relaxing (lengthening) to allow controlled movement. They are arranged in layers and are responsible for maintaining the correct shape of the foot, for example, the arch of your foot. The muscles attach to the bones by using tendons..
The most common problem affecting the foot muscles is tendonitis,where there is inflammation and degeneration of the tendons.
Ligaments are strong, thick fibrous bands that connect bone to bone and hold them together. They are a really important part of ankle anatomy as they are the primary stabilizers of the ankle.
There are 11 ligaments around the ankle, connecting the various different bones of the hindfoot and midfoot. The most common injury is a ligament sprain most commonly of the lateral ligament, aka anterior talofibular ligament.