When we talk about your feet anatomy, there is a lot more than meets the eye. This joint is one of the main stabilizing joints as well as the greatest weight bearing joint in your body, and along with your hands, have the largest number of bones in one space. To give you a better idea of how complex your ankle is we will talk about the different movements of the ankle, the ankle ligaments, and the ankle bones. Let’s get a foot in the door!
Directions it moves:
Very much like other joints in the body, the ankle joint has many different movements. However, for maximal every day function, there are 4 major movements the ankle must be able to perform.
In other words, the ability of your ankle to point your toes towards your shins. This movement allows you kneel, climb stairs properly, and perform different activities like running and outdoor or indoor climbing.
In other words, the ability of your ankle to point your toes down. This movement allows you to perform activities like calf raises (coming up on your toes), walking on your toes (tip toe walking), and even the ability to comfortably step down on a gas pedal for driving.
In other words, the ability of your ankle to turn inwards. This movement allows you to perform activities that require you to run back and forth, like soccer or basketball.
In other words, the ability of your ankle to turn outwards. This movement also helps with any task or activities that involve kneeling. As well as any sports that require you to run back and forth, like soccer or basketball.
The different joints:
Starting from the top of the ankle, there are a total of 6 major joints that make up the ankle joint itself.
Ankle Joint (Tibio-talar)
This joint is located where the bottom of your shin bone (Tibia) meets or connects with your Talus bone, otherwise known as your hind foot. This joint is responsible for the ankle moving up and down freely. It is normal for this joint to have a fair amount of movement when tested individually.
This joint is located just below the Tibio-talar joint. This area is where your Talus bone begins to attach itself to the Tarsal bones. This area is otherwise known as the mid foot. This joint is responsible for you to raise your arch on the bottom of your foot. It is normal for this joint to not have much movement when tested individually.
Tarsometatarsal Joint (Lisfranc)
This joint is located where the tarsal bones begin to attach themselves to the metatarsal bones. This area is otherwise known as the beginning of the forefoot. This joint is responsible for you to raise the mid foot up. It is normal for this joint to not have much movement when tested individually.
Metatarsophalangeal (MTP) Joint
This joint is located where the metatarsal bones attach themselves to the top of the phalangeal bones (top of your toes). This area is considered the bottom of the forefoot. This joint is responsible for you to be able to lift the bottom of your toes up. It is normal for this joint to have a fair amount of movement when tested individually.
Calcaneo – Cuboid Joint
This joint is located where the other top edge of your calcaneus bone attaches to your cuboid bone. This area is also located in the mid foot. This joint is responsible for tilting your foot outwards, and lowering the arch of your foot. It is normal for this joint to have a smaller amount of movement when tested individually.
How many bones do I have again?
As we said above, the foot is known for being a body part that contains the greatest number of bones in a small area. In total you have 26 bones in each foot. That’s a lot! Without all of them though you wouldn’t be able to do the sports and activities that you do today!
- Tibia – makes the Medial Malleolus
- Fibula – makes the Lateral Malleolus
- Calcaneus Tarsals – 5 in total
- Metatarsals – 5 in total
- Phalanges – 14 in total
- Sesamoids – 2 in total
What about the Tendons and Ligaments?
Ligaments are made to hold bones together and Tendons are made to hold your muscles to bones. Although there is a great number of bones in the foot, there are far less tendons and ligaments.
The most powerful and one of most major is the Achilles tendon. This tendon attaches itself to the calf all the way to your heel.
Unlike the tendons, there are a total of 3 major ligaments that make up the foot.
- Plantar Fascia- this ligament makes up the entire sole of the foot. From the heel to toes. Thus, it is considered the longest ligament in the foot.
- Plantar calcaneonavicular ligament- this ligament, located on the sole of the foot that connects the calcaneus and the navicular bone.
- Calcaneocuboid ligament – this ligament connects the calcaneus to the tarsal bones.
Frequently asked questions:
What makes my ankle stiff?
There are many different reasons as to why your ankle could be “stiff”. These can include anything from your normal anatomy of your foot is limited, you’ve injured your ankle and did not have it treated; creating a less mobile joint, or you have come out of a cast or walking boot recently.
What do I keep rolling my ankle? Will I ever stop?
As we spoke about, there are many ligaments and tendons that make up the anatomy of your foot. Depending on your age and your activity level, there are different scenarios that cause your ligaments and tendons to loosen. When they loosen, this causes you to then roll your ankles more often. Depending on how often the ankle has been injured by rolling, there are exercises that can help bring back more stability. However, there is a limit to the amount of damage that can happen in the joint, and once that is done, the possibility of an ankle surgery comes into effect.
What does an ankle brace do?
Since there are so many different types of ankle braces available, what they are designed for can be very much depend. In any case though, most, if not all of the braces are made to provide more support and help with taking away edema (swelling) in the ankle region. The types available can range from a compression stocking, ankle support sleeves, and ankle support braces. Asking your doctor will allow you to best choose the option suitable for you.