Anatomy of the Feet

Your feet can be your best friends, providing balance as you stand upright and mobility as you walk, run, or jump.  When your feet are experiencing problems, they can be your worst enemies…  When your feet hurt, EVERYTHING hurts!  Knowing something about the anatomy of the feet can help you understand more about the condition of your feet.

Your feet are comprised of three sections.  Each section contains bones, joints, muscles, and soft tissues (ligaments and tendons), nerves, and blood vessels.  All of these work together to make your feet the flexible body structures that they are.

Bones and Joints

Anatomy of the Foot

The forefoot consists of five toes, or phalanges.  There are two phalanges in the big toe and three in each of the other toes.  The first phalanx in each toe is connected to a longer bone, or metatarsal, by a metatarsophalengeal, or MTP joint.  The joints make up the ball of the foot.  Their movement is important for normal walking.  Since the big toe is the most important for walking, the first MTP joint is a common problem area.

The midfoot consists of five tarsal bones.  Three cuneiform bones, the cuboid bone, and the navicular bone form the foot’s arch.    The tarsal bones are connected to each other by many joints that allow them to become locked or unlocked according to the foot’s movement.

The hindfoot consists of the heel bone, or calcaneus, and the ankle bone, or talus.  The heel bone is the largest bone in the foot.  The ankle bone is a support for the leg bones, the tibia and the fibula.  Together, they form the ankle.  The ankle joint, or mortise and tenon joint, is strong and stable.


The small muscles in the foot contribute to the way that the toes function.  Located on the sole of the foot, their layers provide padding as they work to move the toes.

Soft Tissues

Ligaments attach bones to bones.  Tendons attach muscle to bones.  Ligaments and tendons are both made of collagen fibers that are bundled together.  The bundles come in various sizes and thicknesses to provide different degrees of strength.

The bones of the foot are held together by lots of small ligaments.  Joint capsules, made of ligaments and soft tissue, are watertight sacs that are around all of the joints.

On the bottom of the toes are tendons that cause the toes to bend down.  On the top of the toes are tendons that cause the toes to straighten.  Other tendons allow the foot to turn inward, to be raised, and to turn outward.  The Achilles tendon allows us to rise up on our toes to walk, run, and jump.

Nerves and Blood Vessels

Nerves provide sensation to the foot.  Blood vessels work to supply blood to all parts of the foot.  Most of the nerves and blood vessels run along the outside and top of the foot.

If you are feeling any type of foot pain or discomfort, please schedule a consultation at Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute Beaches.  One of our highly-skilled foot surgeons will be happy to discuss your pain, your lifestyle, and the steps necessary to ensure that you are back to your best self.  Contact us today at (904) 241-1204 or online at!

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