Foot and Ankle
ANATOMY and MOVEMENT
The foot comprises 26 bones that interconnect with each other to create over 33 joints.
- Phalanges (14 bones) – these are the toes of the foot, with each toe having 3 phalanges except for the big toe that has 2;
- Metatarsals (5 bones) – Each metatarsal connects one toe to the tarsal bones;
- Tarsals (7 bones) – They sit behind the metatarsal bones and form the arches of the feet. On one of these bones (Talus), the lower leg connects to the foot.
The numerous bones of the foot are kept in place by:
- A complex interrelationship between the design of the bones and how they interact with their neighbors (to form the joints).
- The 100 plus ligaments that keep the joints in place, and
- The long tendons of the major muscles allow movement, support and keep the foot’s natural structural integrity intact.
The whole body’s weight falls into the ground via the legs, with the arches of the feet functioning as shock absorbers – our first contact to the ground.
The foot is like a bag of marbles kept carefully and tightly in place. This bag-like structure also allows the foot to move freely in several directions. Play with your own foot and see how it can move left, right, and in a full circle. You may be surprised to know that this is only possible with the joints of the foot working alongside the ankle. This interrelationship allows us so many possibilities in movement, yet this same system can cause us so much grief. Issues such as Plantar Fasciitis can lead to long-term pain and discomfort if foot health is not prioritized.
Tripod of Balance: why is this significant?
The anatomy of the foot provides 3 essential points on the sole of the foot that you should consider.
- The ball of the big toe
- The ball of the little toe, and
- The middle of the heel
It is upon these 3 points that we each stand. Whether our weight falls more on the outside, inside, front, or back of the foot…to some degree, our weight will fall through these 3 points.
Arches of the feet
There are 3 types of arches in the foot.
- Medial Longitudinal Arch: This longer inner arch is central to flexibility and shock absorption. When functioning well gives us the spring in our step. Unfortunately, this is also the arch that is most likely to cause the most concern with our feet.
- Lateral Longitudinal Arch: The shorter arch on the foot’s outer side.
- Transverse arch: this series of smaller arches run crossways along the sole of the foot from the inner to the outer side. this series of smaller arches run crossways along the sole of the foot from the inner to the outer side.
Every subtle change instance, be it standing still, walking, or jumping, is processed and refined through the arches of the feet – allowing for small variations of movement. Therefore, you can appreciate the importance of maintaining healthy feet and, in particular, the arches.
The ankle joint comprises two joints – the Talocrural Joint (TCJ) and the Subtalar Joint (STJ). Each of these joints is responsible for the trilateral nature of the ankle. Three directions can occur together for combined pronation (flat foot) or supination (high arch). These joints are surrounded by several muscles to provide stability when the foot is lowered.
Movement at the ankle joint is limited to bringing your foot and toes down like a ballerina (Plantarflexion) and bringing your foot and toes up towards your knee (Dorsiflexion).
The ankle is the joint that connects the foot to the lower leg. It is held in place by clever design and ligament and muscle placement cooperation. Within this tightly held framework, the foot can transmit its intention and direction of movement upwards.
Despite carrying incredibly high compressive and shear forces during gait, the ankle’s bony and ligamentous structure can provide high levels of stability. Compared with other joints such as the hip or knees, it appears much less susceptible to degenerative processes like osteoarthritis unless associated with prior trauma.
The ankle is the joint that connects the foot to the lower leg. It is held in place by clever design and ligament and muscle placement cooperation. Within this tightly held framework, the foot can transmit its intention and direction of movement upwards. Proper care and attention to foot health are essential for pain-free movement and an overall healthy body.
Maintaining strong, flexible arches, keeping the ankle joint in good condition, and being aware of our balance points are essential factors in foot health. By prioritizing our feet, we can enjoy a better quality of life overall.