Identifying Bones of the Foot

A hands-on guide

The bones of the foot are broken into three large sections, known technically as the tarsals, metatarsals and phalanges. In layman's terms, the tarsal are the ankle bones, the metatarsals are the sole bones and the phallanges are the toe bones. Phallanges is also the name for the finger bones, so don't allow yourself to become confused. You may want to give your feet a quick wash before attempting anything described here. So, let's look at each of the groups idividually:

Tarsals: Ankle bones

I believe the calcaneus is the biggest bone of the feet, and is situated in the heel. This bone is about twice as long as it is wide. Feel yours now, it's just under the thickest part of skin on your heel, at the back. Excited? You should be.

Next up is the talus, the main ankle bone. You'll be well aquainted with this if, like me, you constantly bash it into doorways when travelling bear-foot. This bone is found at the bottom of your shin bone, and the two nobbles here are part of the talus. Give 'em a squidge.

In front of this is the navicular, which is thin and curves round the front of the talus. Run your finger down the front of your foot and you'll feel the navicular just in front of the gap between that and the talus.

You may have some trouble differentiating the talus and the three cuneiform bones in front of it, since these are all rather small and tightly bound. To give them their proper names, from the inside outwards, they are the medial, intermediate and lateral cuneiforms. However, you can locate the larger cuboid bone on the outside of the foot with relative ease.

Metatarsals: Sole bones

Now we're into the realms of the metatarsals, which are all disappointingly similar. They are labelled the first through fifth metatarsals, with the first being on the inside and the largest of them. This one is particularly is easily found as the end of it is seen as a large lump about half way along the foot. Running your fingers laterally across this part of the foot will allow you to trace over each metatarsal, and is also accompanied with a painful-sounding crunching sound. The middle metatarsals are fairly thin, while the fifth is a little more substantial.

Phallanges: Toe bones

Give your toes a squidge, if you can bear it. How many bones do you reckon are in there in total? Nine? Ten? Well no. Fourteen in fact. There's two in the big toe, as you probably deduced. Some people use the technical name "great toe", but this sounds a little too much like a Lord of the Rings character for my liking. Each of your other toes has three bones, although the first knuckle is very close to the foot in some people. Trust me, they're all in there. The closest bone to the foot is the proximal phalanx, which is unusually logical, if you have any knowledge of Latin. The middle bone is the middle phalanx, and the furthest is the distal phalanx. If only they'd named all the other bones with such sense.

There you go then. The highlights of your feet, and some technical vocabulary too! Impress all your friends with your amazing foot knowledge.

Wait! How did I get to the end of a node about bones without mentioning their namesake, dem bones? Respect The Bones.

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