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Anatomy Foot and Ankle Tendons and Ligaments


Extensor Foot Tendons

In the foot diagram below, the main tendons on the top of the foot are labeled. The group of tendons are called the extensor tendons and are responsible for elevating the toes and flexing the ankle up (dorsiflexion).

Foot anatomy image of tendons on top of the foot

A. Extensor hallucis longus: dorsi flexes the big toe and dorsiflexes the foot (pulls up the big toe and the foot).

B. Extensor digitorum longus: dorsi flexes the small toes and dorsiflexes the foot (pulls the little toes up and pulls the foot up).

C. Extensor digitorum brevis: dorsi flexes the small toes (pulls the small toes up).

Peroneal Tendons

In the foot diagram to the right, the tendons on the lateral aspectFoot anatomy of the peroneal tendons of the foot are labeled (outside of the ankle). The peroneal longus courses under the foot and attaches on the inside of the arch. The peroneal brevis tendon attaches to the styloid process (see "K" labeled in the foot bone diagrams listed avoe. The peroneal tendons are responsible for flexing the foot down and rotating the foot out.


Peroneus longus: Everts and plantar flexes the foot (rotates the foot out

and down). Stabilizes the arch when walking.

Peroneus brevis: Everts and plantar flexes the foot and stabilizes the foot when walking. The brevis tendon is a more powerful everter than the peroneus longus tendon. 

More information on peroneal tendons and peroneal tendonitis.

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Flexor Foot Tendons

Foot anatomy image of the plantar tendons and plantar flexors. In the foot diagram to the left, the main tendons on the bottom of the foot are labeled. The flexor tendon group is responsbile for pulling the toes down and flexing the ankle (plantarflexing).  

A. Flexor hallucis longus: plantar flexes the hallux and the foot (brings the big toe toe and flexes the foot down).

B. Flexor hallucis brevis: plantar flexes the hallux (brings the big toe down).

C. Flexor digitorum longus: plantar flexes the toes and the foot (brings the little toes down and flexes the foot down).

D. Posterior tibialis: inverts and plantar flexes the foot (brings the foot in and down). 
More information on the posterior tibial tendon and posterior tibial tendonitis.

Ankle anatomy of the posterior tibial tendon

The image on the right shows a better view of the posterior tibial tendon. The posterior tibial tendon originates in the back of the leg and courses around the inside of the ankle to attach on the inside and bottom of the arch. The main attachment is on the navicular, a tarsal bone in the midfoot, labeled in the image on the right, but the tendon extends across the base of the foot. The posterior tibial tendon is a powerful inverter of the foot and one of the main structures which supports the arch. In individuals with faulty foot mechanics, specifically over pronation and arch collapse, the posterior tibial tendon can become stressed and torn. This results in tendonitis and posterior tibial tendinosis, also called adult acquired flatfoot. More information on posterior tibial tendinosis and adult acquired flatfoot.

Anatomy of the Achilled tendon and posterior tibial tendonAchilles tendon: plantar flexes the foot (brings the foot down and assists in "push off" when walking). The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the body. In individuals with tight calf muscles and those with over pronation and/or play sports which involve quick sprints or jumping, the Achilles tendon can become over stressed and torn, leading to inflammation and pain. 
More information on Achilles tendonitis.

Anatomy of the plantar fascia showing all three bandsPlantar fascia: long ligament-type structure which supports the longitudinal arch when walking. In the image to the right there are three bands, the medial, central and lateral band. 
The plantar fascia is one of the main structures which supports the arch (along with the posterior tibial tendon). In those with faulty foot mechanics, most commonly over pronation, the plantar fascia can become over stressed, stretched and experience microscopic tears leading to inflammation and pain. Chronic aggravation of the fascia can lead to plantar fasciosis, a degenerative condition. More information on plantar fasciitis and plantar fasciosis.

Ankle Ligaments

In the ankle images below, the image on the left shows the medial ankle ligaments are shown. These ligaments give support to the inside of the ankle (medial ankle joint). There are four ligaments which make up the deltoid ligament:

    •    posterior tibiotalar ligament
    •    tibiocalcaneal ligament
    •    tibionavicular ligament
    •    anterior tibiotalar ligament

In the ankle image on the right, the lateral ankle ligaments are shown. These ligaments give support to the outside of the ankle (lateral ankle joint). There are three ligaments on the lateral aspect of the ankle joint.

    •    anterior talofibular ligament
    •    calcaneofibular ligament
    •    posterior talofibular ligament

Ankle ligament anatomy showing both medial and lateral ligaments

The posterior talofibular ligament is not visible in this diagram. The ligament sits under the peroneal tendons. It attaches to the fibula and extends to the back of the ankle and attaches to the talus. The lateral ankle ligaments are the most commonly torn in ankle sprains. More information on 
ankle sprains.

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Anatomy of the nerves and vessels in the foot 

More information on Foot and Ankle Anatomy

Neurovascular: illustrations and images of the blood vessels and nerves in the foot.

Toenail Anatomy: Diagrams, illustrations and descriptions of the toenail.

Biomechanics: information on foot function and the mechanics of the foot. Definitions for dorsiflexion, plantarflexion, inversion, eversion, supination and pronation.

Terminology/medical dictionary: definitions of medical terms and structures relating to the foot and ankle.

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last updated 1/31/13

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Disclaimer: The advice on this website is not intended to substitute for a visit to your health care provider. We will not be held liable for any diagnosis made or treatment recommended. Consult your doctor if you feel you have a medical problem