We're all familiar with the basic skeletal system. We learned from a young age that the hip bone is connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone is connected to the knee bone, and so forth. As we've grown, so has our anatomical knowledge. But did you know that the feet make up 25% of the bones in the human skeleton? With one quarter of the body's bone structure located in our feet, it's important to understand how they operate. When one of these bones is out of alignment, so is the rest of the body. Understanding the inner workings of your own anatomy will help you get a grasp on what can go wrong and when you should seek podiatric care.
Feet are flexible structures containing 26 bones, 33 joints, over 100 ligaments, and 19 muscles. Each of these components plays a key role in the body's ability to walk, run, climb, and balance. To better understand how each part functions, the feet are divided into three sections:
The forefoot consists of five toes and five long bones called metatarsals. The long bones make up the flat, broad section of the feet. The forefoot is exposed to the heaviest mechanical stress. With each step, it carries the weight of the entire body and propels it forward.
The midfoot is made up of three arches: the medial arch, lateral arch, and fundamental longitudinal arch. These arches curve at the bottom of the foot to make walking an easy task. Due to the unusual curvature of these bones, multiple tendons, ligaments, and muscles are connected to strengthen their structural integrity.
The hindfoot forms the ankle and the largest bone of the foot, the calcaneus, commonly known as the heel. These bones allow for the up-and-down, as well as the side-to-side movements of the foot. The hindfoot connects to the bones of the leg--the tibia and fibula.
The bones of the feet can be organized into rows from heel to toe: tarsal bones, metatarsal bones, and phalanges. Other bones that play a role in the complex network of the feet include: the tibia, fibula, cuneiforms, cuboid, and the navicular.
Also important to note are the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that run along the surface of the feet. Without these, the feet wouldn't serve a functional purpose. One of the most important is the Achilles tendon which connects the heel to the calf muscle. Without the Achilles tendon, we wouldn't be able to walk, run, jump, or stand on our toes.
The complex web of bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the feet are similar to that of the hand, but because the foot bears more weight, it is more susceptible to injury. Visit the patient library at Plateau Foot & Ankle Clinic to learn about the foot conditions that affect 80% of Americans at some point in their lives. Some of the most common injuries include: fallen arches, gout, plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, and sprains. Problems with the feet can also affect the hips, back, and spine. Malalignment of any section of the foot will throw off the entire body's natural weight balance.
Dr. Howard Schaengold, foot surgeon and sports medicine specialist, believes that patient education is invaluable. At Plateau Foot & Ankle Clinic in Sammamish, Washington, we put your health first. If you're experiencing pain or discomfort, contact our office today! Appointments can be requested online or by calling 425-868-3338. We look forward to helping you feel your best.