Muscles of the Foot

By Alex Bigale, PTA

Muscles of the Foot

The foot is made up of many muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones to allow for movement, flexibility, and stability. The foot muscles have two main categories, called extrinsic muscles and intrinsic muscles.  The foot’s extrinsic muscles originate in the lower leg and insert into different portions of the foot to allow for gross motor movements such as plantar flexion, dorsiflexion, inversion, and eversion.  Intrinsic muscles are located within the foot and are responsible for more fine motor movements such as digit flexion, extension, and abduction.  The Intrinsic muscles can be further broken down into the dorsum side and the plantar side.

The achilles tendon and foot muscles can be repaired with orthopedic surgery. Muscles of the foot

Foot muscles and tendons.

Muscles of the Foot: Extrinsic Muscles

Anterior Compartment

  • Anterior Tibialis: Dorsiflexes and inverts the foot.
  • Extensor Hallucis Longus: Dorsiflexes the foot and extends the big toe.
  • Extensor Digitorum Longus: Dorsiflexes the foot and extends the 4 lateral toes.
  • Peroneus Tertius: Dorsiflexes and Everts the foot.

Lateral Compartment

  • Peroneus Longus: Eversion of the foot.
  • Peroneus Brevis: Eversion of the foot.

Posterior (Superficial) Compartment

  • Gastrocnemius: Plantar flexes the foot.
  • Soleus: Plantar flexes the foot.
  • Plantaris: Plantar flexes the foot.

Posterior (Deep) Compartment

  • Posterior Tibialis: Plantarflexion and inversion of the foot.
  • Flexor Hallucis Longus: First, Ray flexion.
  • Flexor Digitorum Longus: Flexion of the toes.

Muscles of the Foot: Intrinsic Muscles

Dorsal Aspect (Top of the Foot)

Many of the muscles that attach to the dorsal aspect of the foot are considered extrinsic muscles.  Two main intrinsic muscles are located within the dorsal aspect.  The extensor digitorum brevis which is responsible for extending toes 2-4.  The other intrinsic muscle on the top side of your foot is the extensor hallucis brevis, which aids in extending the big toe.

Plantar Aspect (Bottom of the Foot)

There are 10 main muscles of the plantar aspect of the foot (sole).  These work as a group to stabilize the foot’s arch and individually control the toes’ movements.  The foot muscles can also be broken down into layers.  The first layer is closest to the foot’s bottom, and the layers continue deeper into the foot.

First Layer

  • Abductor Hallucis: Abducts and flexes the great toe.
  • Flexor Digitorum Brevis: Flexes the lateral four toes.
  • Abductor Digiti Minimi: Abducts and flexes the 5th digit (pinky toe).

Second Layer

  • Quadratus Plantae: Assists the flexor digitorum longus in flexing the lateral 4 toes.
  • Lumbricals: Flexes at the base of the toes but also extends the end of the toes.

Third Layer

  • Flexor Hallucis Brevis: Flexes the great toe.
  • Adductor Hallucis: Adducts the great toe and assists in forming the transverse arch of the foot.
  • Flexor Digiti Minimi Brevis: Flexes the 5th digit (pinky toe).

Fourth Layer

  • Plantar Interossei: Adducts digits 3-5 and flexes those toes.
  • Dorsal interossei: Abducts digits 2-4 and flexes those toes.

If you are wondering if you have a torn foot tendon, this ARTICLE may help.

The foot is a very intercut and complex part of the body.  Many injuries in the foot are problems with the bones and tendons. A few common injuries that deal with some of these muscles.  These injuries include but are not limited to a: calf strain, Achilles Rupture, or shin splints.  If you have any pain in your feet while attempting to complete your daily activities, JOI has orthopedic foot and ankle physicians that specialize in this field and can help.

If you would like to schedule an appointment with a JOI foot and ankle specialist, call JOI-2000, schedule online, or click the link below.

Book An Appointment with a JOI Physician in Jacksonville.

Book An Appointment with a JOI Physician. By: Alex Bigale, PTA


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