Foot Anatomy

Foot anatomy is much easier to understand watching 3-D tutorial videos such as this one from orthopedic surgeon Randale Schrest. After a short introduction looking at shoes as a cause of foot pain, the first 3 minutes of this 8 minute long video provides an excellent explanation of the anatomy and structure of the foot.

Foot Structure

Three Arches

The bones of the foot are arranged into 3 arches:

  • Medial Longditudinal arch (the biggest and most recognisable arch, along the inner side of the foot);
  • Lateral Longditudinal arch (smaller arch along the outer side of the foot);
  • Transverse arch (arch across the front part of the foot, which because of its’ location can’t be seen in action).

Together, these arches provide strength and stability to the foot. Here’s how:

Three Keystones

The most important component in any arch structure is the Keystone. This is the stone which forms the apex of the arch and holds the entire structure together.

foot anatomy is based on ancient design principles: there are three arches in the foot each with their own keystone, just like an arch bridge structure needs

Arch bridges are classic examples of this type of architecture, and were designed and built because of their strength and stability. Some of the oldest ones, built by the Romans around two thousand years ago, still remain standing today.

In the foot, there are three keystones – one for each of the arches:

foot anatomy is based on ancient design principles, there are three arch structures and the keystone for the medial longitudinal arch is the talus bone

foot anatomy is based on ancient design principles, there are three arch structures and the keystone for the lateral longitudinal arch is the Cuboid bone

foot anatomy is based on ancient design principles, there are three arch structures and the keystone for the transverse arch is the middle cuneiform bone

With the Keystones in place, the mixture of location and size of the arches combine to create an incredibly strong and stable foot structure.

Three Important Bones

Of all the bones in the foot, the TalusCuboid and Middle Cuneiform are structurally very important. If one or more of these three bones is out of alignment, the structural integrity of the arch it supports, and in turn the strength and stability of the entire foot becomes compromised.

The line drawings above have been sourced with permission from the book “Foot Orthoses and Other Forms of Conservative Care”, by Thomas Michaud, 1993.