Foot Anatomy

Hi everyone!  Today’s blog post is anatomy of your feet and how it relates back to your dancing.  I’ve listed my resources below for this post:

Haas, Jacqui Greene.  Dance Anatomy.  Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2010.  Print.

References and notes

This information can help drastically with your pointework.  We discuss some of the muscles mentioned here in my Improving Pointework blog post.  This is also great for seeing how the information here can benefit you a lot.

Coming up next Wednesday, I have a post all about Foot Strengthening – it’s a follow-along workout for you.  It’s helpful to read this post in its entirety before doing that workout to work the right muscles.

Why is this important?

Anatomy and physiology of your feet and legs is really important for dancers in order to correctly use your muscles and avoid injury at all costs.  In this post, we will discuss the anatomy of your feet – including the bone, ligament, tendon, and muscle structure in addition to the planes of movement allowed for your feet.

Bones of the feet

The bones listed below are organized in the order of proximal-distal (to learn more about these terms, see my Flaschards series.)

The malleoli (ankle bones) are the projections at the base of the tibia and fibula bones.

Your talus bone feets between the ankle bones and is responsible for transmitting your weight into the rest of your foot.  (It connects to the calcaneous and navicular bones).

Your calcaneous, or heel bone, is behind the talus bone.  It provides a base for the attachment of the Achilles tendon.

Your navicular bone is in front of the talus bone.  it provides as a base for the atachment of the tibialis posterior tendon.

You have three cuneiform bones.  These are connected via the navicular bone.  You also have a cuboid bone, which is next to the cuneiforms.  The cuboid is connected via the calcaneous bone.  These are about in the middle of the foot, and they provide attachment for the metatarsals.

The bony, middle section of your foot is what provides the mobility for plantar and dorsiflexion.

The metatarsals then meet the phalanges, at the very distal end of the foot.  These joints provide for the flexibility on demi-pointe.


Bone organization

The bones of the feet are organized into three sections below:

FOREFOOT: Phalanges and metatarsals

MIDFOOT: Navicular, three cuneiforms, cuboid

REARFOOT: calcaneous, talus

Ligaments of the feet

Ligaments connect bones to bones.  All of the foot bones are connected by ligaments (and muscle tendons) – these provide support and help form the arches (these will be discussed later).

Below are the ligaments on the inside of the ankle:


Name Origination Insertion
Medial ligament complex (deltoid) Medial malleolus Navicular, talus, calcaneous bones
Spring ligament Calcaneous bone Navicular bone

Below are the ligaments on the outside of the ankle:


Calcaneofibular Calcaneous Fibula
Anterior talofibular Talus bone Fibula
Posterior talofibular Talus bone Fibula

The arches

The bones of your feet are not organized in a flat arrangement.  You have three arches: your medial, transverse, and lateral arch.

The medial arch is on the inside of your foot, the lateral on the outside, and the transverse across the bottom, running from the inner to outer poritions of the foot.

Muscular system

The muscles of your feet have many uses, all of which are described here.

First, we have the gastrocnemius.  This is a large muscle that originates behind the knee and inserts into the calcaneous bone by way of the Achilles tendon.  It’s a two-joint muscle, meaning that it can both flex the knee and point the foot.

The soleus muscle is beneath the gastrocnemius.  It’s origination is also behind the knee, inserting into the calcaneous bone by way of the Achilles tendon.  It aids with plantar flexion and is great to think about while balancing in positions like retiré or attitude.

The tibialis posterior originates on the back of the tibula/fibula and inserts onto the navicular bone.  It adds support for the meidal arch and helps with plantar flexion and inversion.

Your flexor digitorum longus orignitates on the back of the tibula/fibula and inserts onto toes 2-5 (hence the name DIGITorium).  It also helps with plantar flexion and inversion.

The flexor hallucis longus originates on the back of the fibula and runs along the back of teh lower leg through a small tunnel beneath the inside ankle bone, inserting into the base of the big toe.  It aids in flexion of the big toe, push-off power for jumps, and supporting the inner arch.

Your peroneals are muscles along the lateral lower leg.  They originate in the upper fibula and insert into the fifth metatarsal and beneath the foot into the first metatarsal.  They provide strength for the outside of the lower legs and reduce lateral ankle sprains if they are strengthened and stretched properly.

The tibialis anterior, extensor hallucis longus, and extensor digitorum longus are all along the front of the tibia.  They pull the toes upward and flex/invert the ankle.

The intrinsic muscles are on the soles of the feet.  They originate into the calcanous and insert into the metatarsal bones.  They are responsible for lengthening the toes.

The abductor hallucis is a small muscle that supports the inner arch.  It originates on the big toe and inserts into the calcaneous bone.

Motion of the feet

Plantar flexion – meaning pointing of the feet.

Dorsiflexion – meaning flexing of the feet.

The talus is slightly mobile – menaing in that it moves slightly backward in plié, creating stability, and forward en relevé, creating instability.

The subtalar joint, where the talus and calcaneous joints meet aids in adequate pronation and supination.  Good movement through the rearfoot dictates needed movement for the midfoot.

The joints where the metatarsals meet the phalanges have significant mobility, allowing for that high relevé en demi pointe.  An eccentric engagement of the muscles beneath the toes is needed on relevé for a stable base of support.

Thanks for reading today’s blog post.  Expect information-filled posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on this blog at

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