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Bones Of The Foot: Feet Anatomy

By Jayton Miller

Can you imagine if we didn't have feet? It doesn't really make sense does it? Without the development of feet humans would be nowhere near the evolutionary phenom's we are today. The structure of the foot is something many people tend to overlook, but this fascinating part of the body is worth knowing about. Learn about this amazing body part and how it contributes to the optimal health of the entire body in this blog post.

Contents:

Function Of The Foot:

Functions of The Human Foot

 

The foot is made up of three general parts:

  • Tarsals
  • Metatarsals
  • Phalanges

We will talk more about these specific areas in the next section, but for now lets talk about the function of the foot. The foot is mostly used for standing and locomotion (movement). Humans are known as plantigrade creatures meaning that generally the whole foot touches the ground during walking motions, different from digitigrade animals that stand on the toes or phalanges with the ankle and wrist elevated or like unguligrade animals which typically stand on one or two digits (typically hoofed animals.

Initially it is believed that our feet were used for grasping things during climbing, known as prehensile, and eventually evolved to a nonprehensile structure that became good for bipedalism. This made it to where humans can now move over great distances with very little energy expenditure.

Read More: Is Stretching Useless

Structure Of The Foot:

Structure Of The Foot

There are 26 bones in the human foot. There are three main areas of the foot: the tarsals, metatarsals, and phalanges. These areas are broken down into the bones that they contain:

  • Tarsal - This part of the foot contains 7 bones known as:
    • The talus - attached to the tibia and fibia to help bear the weight of the body.
    • The calcaneus - the heel bone.
    • The navicular - separates the talus and cuneiform bones.
    • The cuboid - shaped like a cube, helps separate the calcaneus from the metatarsal bones and has an underside groove for muscle and tendons to pass through.
    • The three cuneiforms - separated into the medial, intermediate, and lateral to allow for more movement, these bones separate the navicular from the from the phalanges.
  • Metatarsal
    • The metatarsals are labeled as metatarsals 1-5 and consist of 5 bones that connect to the tarsal bones via the base and connect to the phalanges via the head. The thickest of the metatarsals is metatarsal 1 that sits right behind the bog toe, and then they are labeled 1-5 outward.
    • The main function of the metatarsals is to provide stability while standing up.
  • Phalanges
    • The phalanges consist of 5 digits that make up the toes of the foot. There are 14 phalanges that make up the 5 digits of the foot with the hallux (big toe) being number 1 and the rest being labeled from the inside out.
    • The main function of the phalanges is to provide support and stability during movement.

(diagram of structure after one of the above sections)

Common Defects With The Bones Of The Foot:

Common Defects of The Feet

 

Some of the most common issues with the bones of the feet can include:

  • Arthritis - The most common form of arthritis in the feet is Osteoarthritis that is usually caused by "wear and tear" of the foot.
  • Bunions - A big bump on the side of the foot, most commonly caused by environmental factors. These can progress over time if treatments are not sought out. (there are natural ways to help with this outside of surgery)
  • Gout - Gout is arthritis due to an overproduction of uric acid leading to crystallization and deposition in the joints.
  • Hammertoes - These are toes that are contracted and bent. These can cause discomfort in shoes.
  • Hallux Rigidus - Stiffness of the big toe caused by abnormal foot structure due to trauma or arthritic conditions.
  • Heel Spurs - Common in growing teenagers and young adults, heel spurs are due to inflammation of the ligament that stretches along the bottom of the foot. Overstretching of the ligament is what is commonly thought to cause these.
  • Metatarsalgia - This is pain on the balls of the feet that can be caused by arthritis, nerves, and dispositioned bones.

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Helpful Ways To Support Healthy Feet:

How To Support Healthy Feet

 

  • Spend Time Barefoot - Going outside and spending time barefoot is a great way to strengthen your feet. 
  • Wear Minimalist Shoes - Minimalist / barefoot shoes help to strengthen the muscles of your feet and help the feet develop in the right way to prevent deformities.
  • Do Foot Exercises - Keeping your feet strong, mobile, and flexible with foot exercises is going to help you maintain healthy feet for years to come.

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Conclusion:

Overall, the foot is an integral part of the human body, and the adaptations that have been made with foot have allowed us to outperform all of our fellow mammals to become the most dominant animals in earths history. If you want to keep your bones healthy and make sure that you have strong feet for years to come, then make sure that you perform foot exercises, and look for minimalist shoes to wear when possible.

Citations

  • Abrahams, Peter. The Human Body: An Essential Guide To How The Body Works. Amber Books Ltd, 2021.