UAMS Gross Anatomy

Gross Anatomy


Sole of the Foot


Anatomy Tables for Today's Topic

Bones of the Foot
Muscles of the Sole of the Foot
Nerves of the Sole of the Foot
Arteries of the Sole of the Foot
Joints and Ligaments of the Sole of the Foot

Bones of the Foot

Bone Structure Description Notes
tarsal bones   the bones of the ankle there are seven tarsal bones: talus, calcaneus, navicular, medial cuneiform, intermediate cuneiform, lateral cuneiform, cuboid
talus   the most proximal of the tarsal bones the talus articulates with the medial malleolus of the tibia and the lateral malleolus of the fibula to form the ankle mortise joint
  body the proximal part of the talus its superior (trochlear) part participates in the ankle joint and its inferior part articulates with the calcaneus
  trochlea the superior portion of the body of the talus that lies between the two malleoli it has a smooth articular surface; it participates in the formation of the ankle joint
head the portion of the talus that projects anteriorly it articulates with the navicular bone
neck the constricted part of the talus located proximal to the head
calcaneus   the tarsal bone which forms the heel it is the largest and strongest bone in the foot; a fracture of the calcaneus which separates the tuberosity from the body can be a debilitating injury
  calcaneal tuberosity the posterior roughened area of the calcaneus which contacts the ground during weight-bearing it is the insertion site of the calcaneal (Achilles') tendon
sustentaculum tali the shelf-like medial projection of bone located inferior to the medial malleolus it is a shelf of bone that articulates with and supports the talus; it is grooved inferiorly by the tendon of the flexor hallucis longus m.
navicular   the tarsal bone located distal to the talus and proximal to the three cuneiform bones it articulates with the head of the talus and all three cuneiform bones; it is the attachment site for an important ligament (plantar calcaneonavicular or "spring" ligament) that supports the medial longitudinal arch of the foot
cuneiform, medial   the most medial bone in the distal row of tarsal bones the cuneiform bones articulate with the navicular bone proximally and the bases of the metatarsal bones distally
cuneiform, middle the intermediate bone of the three cuneiform bones the cuneiform bones articulate with the navicular bone proximally and the bases of the metatarsal bones distally
cuneiform, lateral the bone that is located between the middle cuneiform and the cuboid bone the cuneiform bones articulate with the navicular bone proximally and the bases of the metatarsal bones distally
cuboid   the most lateral bone in the distal row of tarsal bones the cuboid bone articulates with the calcaneus proximally and the fourth and fifth metatarsal bones distally
metatarsals   the bones located between the tarsal bones and the phalanges there are five metatarsal bones in the foot
base the proximal end of the metatarsal it articulates with the distal row of tarsal bones
body the slender shaft of the metatarsal it is also known as the diaphysis
head the rounded distal end of the metatarsal it articulates with the proximal phalanx of the corresponding digit
phalanx (phalanges)   the distal two or three bones in the digits of the foot there are a total of 14 phalanges in the foot; the great toe has two phalanges (proximal and distal) and each of the other four toes has three phalanges (proximal, middle and distal); phalanx means "line of soldiers"
base the proximal end of the phalanx the base of the proximal phalanx articulates with the head of the corresponding metatarsal bone; the base of the middle or distal phalanx articulates with the head of the next most proximal phalanx
body the slender shaft of the phalanx also known as the diaphysis; the body of the distal phalanx is very short
head the distal end of the phalanx the proximal, middle and distal phalanges each have a head; the head of a proximal or middle phalanx articulates with the base of the next most distal phalanx

Muscles of the Sole of the Foot

Muscle Origin Insertion Action Innervation Artery Notes
abductor digiti minimi (foot) medial and lateral sides of the tuberosity of the calcaneus lateral side of the base of the proximal phalanx of the 5th digit abducts the 5th toe; flexes the metatarsophalageal joint lateral plantar nerve lateral plantar a. abductor digiti minimi forms the lateral margin of the sole of the foot
abductor hallucis medial side of the tuberosity of calcaneus medial side of the base of the proximal phalanx of the great toe (hallux) abducts the great toe; flexes the metatarsophalageal joint medial plantar nerve medial plantar a. abductor hallucis forms the medial margin of the sole of the foot
adductor hallucis oblique head: bases of metatarsals 2-4; transverse head: heads of metatarsals 3-5 lateral side of base of the proximal phalanx of the great toe adducts the great toe (moves it toward midline of the foot; i.e.toward the 2nd digit) deep branch of the lateral plantar nerve plantar arterial arch the plantar arterial arch passes superior to the oblique head of adductor hallucis
dorsal interosseous (foot) shafts of adjacent metatarsal bones bases of the proximal phalanges for digit 2 (both sides) & digits 3,4 (lateral side) abduct digits 2-4 (move these digits away from midline as defined by a plane passing through the 2nd digit); flex the metatarsophalangeal joints and extend the interphalangeal joints of those digits deep branch of the lateral plantar nerve dorsal metatarsal aa. four in number; remember DAB (Dorsal interossei ABduct) and PAD (Plantar interossei ADduct), then logic can tell you where these muscles insert
fibularis (peroneus) longus upper two/thirds of the lateral surface of the fibula after crossing the plantar surface of the foot deep to the intrinsic muscles, it inserts on the medial cuneiform and the base of the 1st metatarsal bone extends (plantar flexes) and everts the foot superficial fibular (peroneal) nerve fibular (peroneal) a. fibularis longus lies superficial to the fibularis brevis m. in the lateral compartment of the leg
flexor digiti minimi brevis (foot) base of 5th metatarsal bone lateral side of base of proximal phalanx of 5th digit flexes the metatarsophalangeal joint of the 5th digit lateral plantar nerve lateral plantar a. none
flexor digitorum brevis tuberosity of the calcaneus, plantar aponeurosis, intermuscular septae base of the middle phalanx of digits 2-5 after splitting to allow passage of the flexor digitorum longus tendons flexes the metatarsophalangeal & proximal interphalangeal joints of digits 2-5 medial plantar nerve medial and lateral plantar aa. flexor digitorum brevis in the foot is equivalent to the flexor digitorum superficialis m. of the arm
flexor digitorum longus middle half of the posterior surface of the tibia bases of the distal phalanges of digits 2-5 flexes the metatarsophalangeal, proximal interphalangeal and distal interphalangeal joints of digits 2-5; plantar flexes the foot tibial nerve tibial a. flexor digitorum longus in the leg is equivalent to the flexor digitorum profundus m. of the arm
flexor hallucis brevis cuboid, lateral cuneiform, medial side of the first metatarsal medial belly: medial side of proximal phalanx of the great toe; lateral belly: lateral side of the proximal phalanx of the great toe flexes the metatarsophalangeal joint of the great toe medial plantar nerve (lateral belly occasionally receives innervation from the lateral plantar nerve) medial plantar a. each tendon of insertion contains a sesamoid bone
flexor hallucis longus lower 2/3 of the posterior surface of the fibula base of the distal phalanx of the great toe flexes the metatarsophalangeal and proximal interphalangeal joints of the great toe; plantar flexes the foot tibial nerve fibular (peroneal) a. and tibial a. flexor hallucis longus is very important in the "push off" part of the normal gait
lumbricals (foot) tendons of the flexor digitorum longus medial side of the extensor expansion of digits 2-5 flex the metatarsophalangeal joint, extend the proximal interphalangeal & distal interphalangeal joints of digits 2-5 medial (1st) lumbrical: medial plantar nerve; lateral three lumbricals: lateral plantar nerve medial and lateral plantar aa. the lumbricals of the foot have the same action on the toes that the lumbricals in the hand have on the fingers
plantar interosseous base and medial side of metatarsals 3-5 bases of proximal phalanges and extensor expansions of digits 3-5 adduct digits 3-5 (move these digits toward the midline of the foot as defined by a plane through the second digit); flex the metacarpophalangeal and extend interphalangeal joints of digits 3-5 deep branch of the lateral plantar nerve plantar metatarsal aa. remember PAD (Plantar interossei ADduct) and DAB (Dorsal interossei ABduct), and logic will tell you where these muscles must insert
quadratus plantae anterior portion of the calcaneus and the long plantar ligament tendons of the flexor digitorum longus m. assists the flexor digitorum longus in flexing the toes lateral plantar nerve lateral plantar a. the quadratus plantae m. changes the line of force of the flexor digitorum longus m. to bring it in line with the long axis of the foot
tibialis posterior interosseous membrane, posteromedial surface of the fibula, posterolateral surface of the tibia tuberosity of the navicular and medial cuneiform, metatarsals 2-4 plantar flexes the foot; inverts the foot tibial nerve fibular (peroneal) a. and tibial a. acts as both an antagonist (dorsiflexion/plantar flexion) and a synergist (inversion) of the tibialis anterior m.

Nerves of the Sole of the Foot

Nerve Source Branches Motor Sensory Notes
fibular, deep common fibular n. one proper digital br. muscles of the anterior compartment of the leg (tibialis anterior m., extensor hallucis longus m., extensor digitorum longus m., fibularis tertius m.) and muscles of the dorsum of the foot (extensor digitorum brevis m.and extensor hallucis brevis m.) skin of the web between the great toe and the 2nd toe "peroneal" is old terminology which has been replaced by "fibular"; anterior compartment syndrome - trauma to the anterior side of the leg can result in pressure buildup in the anterior compartment (from swelling or bleeding) that can damage the deep fibular n., resulting in "foot drop"
fibular, superficial common fibular n. medial dorsal cutaneous n. to the medial side of the foot; dorsal digital nn. to the lateral 3 toes muscles of the lateral compartment of the leg (fibularis longus and brevis mm.) distal 1/3 of the anterior surface of the leg; dorsum of the foot excluding the skin of the web between the great toe and the 2nd toe and the distal interphalangeal segments of all toes "peroneal" is old terminology which has been replaced by "fibular"; the nail beds are supplied by nerves from the plantar surface of the foot
peroneal, deep SEE: fibular, deep . . . "peroneal" is old terminology which has been replaced by fibular
peroneal, superficial SEE: fibular, superficial . . . "peroneal" is old terminology which has been replaced by fibular
plantar digital, common medial plantar n. (1st-3rd); superficial br. of the lateral plantar n. (4th) proper plantar digital nn. 1st lumbrical m. skin of the plantar surface of the toes (except the medial side of the great toe and the lateral side of the 5th toe) the dorsal surfaces of the distal tips of the toes (nail bed regions) are supplied by the proper plantar digital brs. of these nn.
plantar digital, proper common plantar digital; medial plantar n. (to the medial side of the great toe); superficial br. of the lateral plantar n. (to the lateral side of the 5th toe) no named branches flexor hallucis brevis m. (from the proper plantar digital n. on the medial side of the great toe) skin of the plantar surface of the toes and dorsal surface of the distal interphalangeal segment the nail bed is supplied by the proper plantar digital nn.
plantar, lateral tibial n. superficial and deep branches quadratus plantae m., abductor digiti minimi m., flexor digiti minimi brevis m., lateral 3 lumbrical mm., adductor hallucis m., plantar & dorsal interosseous mm. skin of the lateral side of the plantar surface of the foot; skin of the plantar surface of the lateral 1 1/2 toes (and the nail bed of these toes) lateral plantar n. accompanies the lateral plantar a. though the sole of the foot
plantar, medial tibial n. plantar cutaneous brs.; proper plantar digital n. (medial side of the great toe); common plantar digital nn. (1st-3rd) abductor hallucis m., flexor hallucis brevis m., flexor digitorum brevis m., 1st lumbrical m. skin of the medial side of the plantar surface of the foot; skin of the plantar surface of the medial 3 1/2 toes (and the nail bed of these toes) medial plantar n. accompanies the medial plantar a. though the sole of the foot
saphenous n. femoral n. infrapatellar br. none skin of the medial side of the leg and medial side of the foot saphenous n. travels with the great saphenous v.; it does not pass through the adductor hiatus at the knee; it passes anterior to the medial malleolus at the ankle
sural n. formed by the union of the fibular communicating br. of the lateral sural cutaneous n. and the medial sural cutaneous nn. lateral calcaneal brs., lateral dorsal cutaneous n. of the foot none skin of the posterior surface of the lower leg; skin of the lateral side of the foot sural n. courses posterior to the lateral malleolus at the ankle with the lesser saphenous v.
tibial n. sciatic n. medial sural cutaneous n., medial calcaneal brs., medial and lateral plantar nn. semimembranosus m., semitendinosus m., long head of biceps femoris m., ischiocondylar portion of adductor magnus m.; mm. of the superficial and deep posterior compartments of the leg (gastrocnemius m., soleus m., plantaris m., tibialis posterior m., flexor hallucis longus m., flexor digitorum longus m.); muscles of the plantar side of the foot skin of the plantar surface of the foot and toes; skin of the dorsal surface of the distal toes (nail bed region) tibial n. is the larger of the two divisions of the sciatic n.

Arteries of the Sole of the Foot

Artery Source Branches Supply to Notes
arch, plantar arterial lateral plantar a. plantar metatarsal aa. (4) deep foot; its plantar metatarsal brs. and their brs. supply the toes, including the dorsum of the distal phalangeal segment plantar arterial arch anastomoses with the deep plantar br. of the dorsalis pedis a.
arcuate dorsalis pedis a. dorsal metatarsal aa. (3) dorsum of the foot, excluding the great toe and the distal phalangeal segments of the digits arcuate a. anastomoses with the lateral tarsal a.
digital, proper plantar plantar metatarsal a., from the plantar arterial arch no named branches plantar aspect of each digit proper plantar digital aa. supply the dorsum of the distal phalangeal segment and nail bed
dorsalis pedis anterior tibial a. lateral tarsal a., medial tarsal a., arcuate a., 1st dorsal metatarsal a., deep plantar a. dorsal aspect of the foot; dorsalis pedis a. anastomoses with the plantar arterial arch; the anterior tibial artery continues as the dorsalis pedis - the name change occurs at the level of the ankle
metatarsal, dorsal dorsalis pedis (1st), arcuate (2nd-4th) dorsal digital aa. (2) dorsum of digits, excluding the distal phalangeal segment each dorsal metatarsal a. gives off a perforating br. that anastomoses with the plantar arterial arch
metatarsal, plantar plantar arterial arch perforating br., plantar digital aa. (2) interosseous mm., deep portions of the foot; digits including the dorsum of the distal phalangeal segment plantar metatarsal aa.anastomose with dorsal metatarsal aa.
plantar, deep dorsalis pedis plantar metatarsal aa. (4) deep foot; its plantar metatarsal brs. and their brs. supply the toes, including the dorsum of the distal phalangeal segment anastomoses with lateral plantar a. to form the plantar arterial arch; the branches mentioned at left arise from the plantar arterial arch
plantar, lateral posterior tibial a. proper plantar digital a. to lateral side of 5th digit deep foot; the plantar arterial arch and its brs. supply the toes, including the distal phalangeal segment dorsally lateral plantar a. becomes continuous with the plantar arterial arch
plantar, medial posterior tibial a. digital brs. (3) medial side of the sole of the foot medial plantar a. anastomoses with the plantar metatarsal aa., but does not usually participate in formation of the plantar arterial arch
posterior tibial popliteal a. fibular a. (peroneal), circumflex fibular a., nutrient a. of the tibia, communicating br., posterior medial malleolar brs., medial calcaneal brs., lateral plantar a., medial plantar a. posterior and lateral leg, plantar aspect of the foot posterior tibial a. is the direct continuation of the popliteal a. the name change occurs at the inferior border of the popliteus m. where the popliteal a. bifurcates; the tibial a. bifurcates on the medial side of the foot to give rise to the medial plantar a. and lateral plantar a.

Joints and Ligaments of the Sole of the Foot

Joint or ligament Description Notes
long plantar ligament a ligament that connects the plantar surface of the calcaneus, cuboid and the bases of the lateral 3 metatarsal bones a ligament that reinforces a complex set of intertarsal (gliding) synovial joints; the long plantar ligament supports the longitudinal arch of the foot
longitudinal arch of the foot the arch that passes from the calcaneus to the talus to the navicular to the cuneiforms to the metatarsal a series of plane synovial joints; the longitudinal arch of the foot is formed by the shapes of the metatarsal bones and is supported by the plantar calcaneonavicular (spring) ligament and many other small interosseous ligaments; the tendons of the tibialis anterior and tibialis posterior mm. also play a supporting role in maintaining the longitudinal arch of the foot
metatarsophalangeal joint the articulation between the head of a metatarsal and the base of a proximal phalanx a synovial condyloid (or ellipsoid) joint; it is strengthened by medial and lateral collateral ligaments; the joint has two planes of motion: flexion/extension and abduction/adduction which may be combined to yield circumduction
plantar calcaneocuboid ligament a ligament that connects the calcaneus with the cuboid on their plantar surfaces a ligament that reinforces a complex set of intertarsal (gliding) synovial joints; it supports the longitudinal arch of the foot; also known as: short plantar ligament
plantar calcaneonavicular ligament a ligament that connects the sustentaculum tali with the plantar surface of the navicular bone a ligament that reinforces a complex set of intertarsal (gliding) synovial joints; it supports the longitudinal arch of the foot; also known as: spring ligament
tarsometatarsal joints the articulations between the distal row of tarsal bones and the proximal ends of the metatarsal bones gliding synovial joints; they are reinforced by dorsal and plantar ligaments which limit the motion between adjacent bones
transverse arch of the foot the arch that passes through the distal row of tarsal bones a series of plane synovial joints; the transverse arch of the foot is supported by the shape of the tarsal bones, many small interosseous ligaments and the tendons of the fibularis longus m., tibialis anterior m. and tibialis posterior m.

Other Tables of Interest:


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Some of the material presented in these tables is contained in the book:
MedCharts Anatomy by Thomas R. Gest and Jaye Schlesinger
Published by ILOC, Inc., New York. Copyright 1995.

Content of these tables has been edited for use in this course by Patrick W. Tank, Ph.D.
Copyright 2006, Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Unauthorized use is prohibited.