Our feet are flexible structures of bones, joints, muscles, and soft tissues that let us stand upright and perform activities like walking, running, and jumping.
The foot is a highly developed, biomechanically complex structure made of 26 bones, 33 joints, 19 muscles and 107 ligaments.
The first region of the foot (forefoot) contains the five toes (14 phalanges) and the five longer bones (5 metatarsal bones).
The second region of the foot (midfoot) is a pyramid-like collection of bones that form the arches of the feet. These include the three cuneiform bones, the cuboid bone, and the navicular bone.
The third region of the foot (hindfoot – 2 of the 7 tarsal bones) forms the heel and ankle. The talus bone supports the leg bones (tibia and fibula), forming the ankle. The calcaneus (known as a heel bone) is the largest bone in the foot.
The tarsal bones (7), metatarsal bones (5) and phalanges (14) provide structural support. The other bones help improve function.
Arches of the foot—the medial arch, lateral arch, and fundamental longitudinal arch—are created by the angles of the bones and strengthened by the tendons, making walking easier.
The foot’s structure contains more than 100 tendons, ligaments, and muscles that run along the surfaces of the feet, allowing the complex movements needed for motion, balance, and flexing when we walk.
Ligaments are strong connective tissue connecting bones to other bones, forming joints. Muscles are the tough, elastic tissue that hold the bones of the foot together and allow the foot to move. Contraction of the muscles in the leg makes us move our feet to stand, walk, run, and jump. The ends of muscles are attached to bones by tough, flexible connective tissues called tendons. The Achilles tendon, for example, connects the heel to the calf muscle and is essential for running, jumping, and standing on the toes.
The main nerve of the foot (tibial nerve), enters the sole of the foot behind the inside bump on the ankle, bringing sensation to the toes and sole of the foot and controls the muscles in this area. Several other nerves provide sensation to different areas on the top and outside edge of the foot.
The main Blood supply of foot, the posterior tibial artery, runs right beside the tibial nerve. Other smaller arteries enter the foot from different directions. One of these arteries is the dorsalis pedis, which runs along the top of the foot. You can actually feel your pulse in the middle of the top of the foot.
When everything works together, the foot functions correctly. When one part becomes damaged, it can affect every other part of the foot and lead to a number of problems.