A Brief Overview of the Structure of Feet

A Brief Overview of the Structure of Feet

Nov 17 , 2021


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Your feet are made for everything.

Be it walking, running, jumping, climbing, balancing, you name it!

So it comes as no surprise that the structure of the foot is a complex one.

In fact, feet have an astonishing 28 bones; that’s almost a quarter of all the bones in your entire body! Not to mention, 30 joints and over a hundred muscles, ligaments and tendons.

And, all of these work together like a fine tuned machine to carry out two important functions: weight bearing and propulsion, which require a great degree of stability.

Not only that, but the foot must be flexible in order to adapt to uneven surfaces, hence why it has so many joints and bones.

With that in mind, here is a brief overview of the structure of feet and how they all work together to enable you to live life to the fullest.

Foot Structure

The foot can be split into 3 sections: the forefoot, midfoot and hindfoot and there are joints, tendons, ligaments, muscles and bones in each.


Simply, a joint is the junction between two or more bones.

And, each big toe has two: the metatarsophalangeal joint and the interphalangeal joint.

The other four toes have three joints: the metatarsophalangeal joint which is at the base, the proximal interphalangeal joint in the middle and the distal phalangeal joint which is at the closest to the tip of the toe.


The most known tendon of the foot is the Achilles tendon, which runs from the calf muscle straight to the heel; it’s the strongest and largest tendon in the body, and makes it possible to do anything on your feet, i.e. run, walk, climb etc.

As well as this, other tendons include the tibialis posterior, which attaches the calf muscle to the bones inside the foot and support the arch.

Plus, there is the tibialis anterior that runs from the outer tibia to the first metatarsal and the surface of the median cuneiform tarsal that helps you bring your toes towards your shin.


Regarding ligaments, there are 3 primary ones:

  • Plantar fascia: the longest ligament in the foot that runs along the sole, from the heel to the toes, and forms the arch, provides strength for walking and assists with balance.
  • Plantar calcaneonavicular ligament: this is on the sole and connects the calcaneus and navicular, and supports the head of the talus.
  • Calcaneocuboid ligament: connect the calcaneus and the tarsal bones, and helps the plantar fascia support the arch of the foot.


The muscles that control the foot’s movement are located in the lower leg and are attached to the bones in the foot that have tendons. The main muscles that assist with movement are:


The bones in the foot are split into three categories:


This is the front part of the foot, including the toes.

And, there are 14 toe bones: two per big toe and three per other four toes, as well as five metatarsals.

The first metatarsal bone is the shortest and thickest, and it plays an important part in forward movement.

As well as this, it also provides attachment to many different tendons.

Moreover, the second, third and fourth metatarsal bones are the most stable; they are well protected and only have minor tendon attachments.

In addition to the toes and metatarsals, the forefoot has two small sesamoid bones underneath the first metatarsal which is held in place by tendons and ligaments.


This section is made up of 5 different shaped bones called the tarsals, and together they form the arch of the foot.

In science terms, these are called navicular, cuboid, and medial, intermediate and lateral cuneiforms, and they all play a key role in providing stability and distributing weight.


In this part of the foot there are only two big bones: the talus and the calcaneus.

The biggest, the calcaneus, forms the heel and the talus, sits on top of the calcaneus, forming the pivoting joint of the ankle. 

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