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Foot Anatomy

Updated: Jun 9, 2020

Okay y’all. I am just going to warn you on this post…. It’s going to be a long one! That is because there are a lot of nitty gritty facts to the foot. So hang in there, take deep breaths and breaks to repeat this information. Don’t take it all in at once, divide it up, master each section then move onto the next. I even have it labeled as sections for you to work on in groupings.


Ready???


Here we go!


The foot has different kinds of bones. The bones near the heel are categorized as tarsal bones (indicated as blue in the images). Then you have metatarsals which is the central part of your foot (orange in the images), and phalanges at the toes (yellow, coral, and purple).


1. TARSAL BONES


The talus bone articulates with the tibia for the talocrural joint. You can think of the tibia and talus both having “T” and that will help you remember it is the talus, not the calcaneus.


The heel that you feel is the calcaneus. Ever heard of the achilles tendon? Yup, this is where the calcaneal tendon inserts on the calcaneus bone. When an individual goes to sprint or take off and there is too great of force on that tendon, it can rip off the calcaneus. This kind of injury is known as avulsion (tendon ripping off the bone), talk about OUCH! It is said to be one of the most painful injuries to have.


The tarsal bones can feel confusing and hard to remember with directions but there is a pneumonic to help you get it right. So here it goes…


Talus Tall

Calcaneus Californian

Navicular Navy

Medial cuneiform Medical

Intermediate cuneiform Interns

Lateral cuneiform Love

Cuboid Cuties


(And by the way it is the same order that is labeled on the images below!)


2. METATARSALS


You have metacarpals and metatarsals. These are the long bones in your hands and feet. If you think about how the bones look, the meta’s are what divides the smaller sets of bones. I find that this gets confused a lot by students. I will tag the metatarsals and one will put the metacarpals. A way to remember that the metatarsals are on the foot is…


Metatarsals walk on tar (like asphalt).



3. PHALANGES


You have three different ones: proximal, middle, distal phalanges. When it is a singular bone you are talking about it is then referred to as the phalanx (i.e. distal phalanx). This part is simple, the phalanges that are adjacent to the metatarsal are the proximal phalanges. The next one is in the middle, between the proximal phalanges and the last phalanges (little itty bitty bones at the tip of your toes). This is the middle phalanx. And then of course that itty bitty one is the distal phalanx (remember singular = phalanx, multiple = phalanges).


There is one that you have to be careful of. This is the hallux. The Hallux is your great toe (the big one). The hallux only has 2 phalanges. It has the phalanx that touches the metatarsal… therefore, that is the ______ phalanx. And then there is the last phalanx which is the ______ phalanx (the itty bitty one). There is no phalanx to be stuck in the middle, therefore the only two that are left are the proximal phalanx and distal phalanx.



4. JOINTS


There are a total of three joints to know. The first joint is the metatarsophalangeal joint. And the next two joints are in the phalangeal region: Distal and Proximal Interphalangeal Joint.


Metatarsophalangeal Joint - let’s break this name down.

metatars-o-phalangeal joint

metatarsals-combine-phalanges


Basically it is saying that the metatarsals are combined with the phalanges. Remember that the “o” is the conjoining letter to the two areas.


There will be a metatarsophalangeal joint on every toe (1-5 starting at the big toe going lateral).


Proximal & Distal Interphalangeal Joint - Let’s break this down…


Proximal Inter-phalangeal joint

close to, in between-phalanges


This is saying that this joint is between two phalanges (interphalangeal). Since we have three phalanges there are two locations that the joints are between two phalanges. The directional term “proximal” is saying that it is closer to the trunk. Whereas the directional term “distal” is saying it is further away or distance from the trunk. Another thing to remember is that when you get to the phalanges, it’s the same for every toe… the first is proximal interphalangeal joint then then distal one.


EXCEPT for the hallux. Remember how I said earlier that the hallux only has 2 phalanges? Well this means that there is only one joint between two phalanges. Therefore, the hallux ONLY has the proximal interphalangeal joint.


Hey y’all you made it through that one! Congrats because that was a heavy one!!! Check out the YouTube video and images below to review all of this material.


Happy Studying!




  1. Talus

  2. Calcaneus

  3. Navicular

  4. Medial Cuneiform

  5. Intermediate Cuneiform

  6. Lateral Cuneiform

  7. Cuboid

  8. Metatarsal I

  9. Metatarsal II

  10. Metatarsal III

  11. Metatarsal IV

  12. Metatarsal V

  13. Proximal Phalanx of Metatarsal I

  14. “ “ of Metatarsal II

  15. “ “ of Metatarsal III

  16. “ “ of Metatarsal IV

  17. “ “ of Metatarsal V

  18. Middle Phalanx of Metatarsal II

  19. “ “ of Metatarsal III

  20. “ “ of Metatarsal IV

  21. “ “ of Metatarsal V

  22. Distal Phalanx of Metatarsal I

  23. “ “ of Metatarsal II

  24. “ “ of Metatarsal III

  25. “ “ of Metatarsal IV

  26. “ “ of Metatarsal V

  27. Metatarsophalangeal Joint of Metatarsals 1-5

  28. Proximal Interphalangeal Joint of Metatarsals 1-5

  29. Distal Interphalangeal Joint of Metatarsals 2-5








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