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The Basic Anatomy of the Foot

The human foot is very complex mechanically and structurally. This complexity allows for the strength that helps the foot maintain under pressure while providing resiliency and flexibility. An overview of the human body finds that each has a total of 26 bones in the foot which accounts for twenty-five percent of all the bones of the body being located in the feet. With each foot connected to an ankle, there are 33 joints. The feet are covered by over one hundred muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Each of these tissues has its own function:

• The fibrous tissues called tendons connect the muscles to bones.
• Ligaments are also fibrous tissues that join bones to other bones.

The feet are also home to a vast amount of blood vessels, nerves, soft tissues, and skin. All the components work to complement one another and give the body support while allowing for ease of mobility and balance. As with other parts of the body, development of a problem in an area of the structure of the foot will result in malfunction elsewhere.

Structure of the Foot

Though very intricate with all of its countless parts, the foot exists of three main parts. Each of these holds its own importance and is connected to another. Briefly describing each, as follows:

• The forefoot consists of the phalanges or the five toes and the connecting metatarsals or long bones. An individual toe contains many small bones while the big or great toe has only two bones and one joint. The remaining four toes all have two joints and three bones. The toes are joined to the long bones by joints at the ball of foot. This part of the foot supports half the weight of the body while the ball of the foot balances pressure.

• The midfoot consists of five unevenly shaped tarsal bones. The arch is formed by the midfoot and shock is absorbed through this part of the foot. Bones of the midfoot are joined to the forefoot and the hindfoot with muscles and the foot arch ligament.

• The hindfoot has three joints and attaches the midfoot to the ankle. Thus, the top of the ankle is joined to the tibia and fibula which are the two long bones of the lower leg. This forms a hinge to let the foot move up and down. The calcaneus or heel bone is the largest of all the bones in the foot. It is joined to the ankle which forms the subtalar joint. A layer of fat cushions and protects the bottom of the heel bone.

Network of Support

Support for the bones and joints in the foot are delivered by a network of muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Feet get there shape by twenty muscles that keep the bones in place and expand and contract to allow for movement. Some smaller muscles allow the toes to lift and curl. The elastic tissues or tendons of the foot connect muscles to bones and joints. Ligaments keep the tendons in place while stabilizing joints. Shape and durability are also given to the foot my skin, blood vessels, and nerves. Blood vessels carry essential nourishment to the muscles while nerves help control various movements.
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