Tendons of the Foot

By Ehren Allen, DPT/Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist

What are the Major Tendons in the Foot?

The foot and ankle have multiple tendons which run from the lower leg to the foot. These include the peroneus tendons as well as the extensor tendons. Tendons are bands of connective tissue which connect muscles to bones. The tendons that cross that ankle and foot control the movement of the foot and ankle.  Meet our team of Foot and Ankle Doctors that treat injuries to the foot & ankle.

Foot muscles and tendons of the foot labeled in a foot anatomy diagram. JOI Rehab

Illustration of the foot muscles and tendons on a white background

4 Main Motions of the Foot

  1. Dorsal flexion (pulling the foot and toes upward): The main tendon for this movement is the Anterior Tibialis.
  2. Plantar flexion (pointing the foot and toes downward): The main tendon for this is the Achilles Tendon.
  3. Inversion (turning the foot inward): The main tendon for this is Posterior Tibialis Tendon.
  4. Eversion (turning the foot outward): The main tendons for this are the Peroneal tendons (longus and brevis).


Intrinsic Muscles of the Foot diagram showing tendons of the foot. JOI Rehab

Muscles of the Foot

Other tendons help to control the movements of the toes. The big toe has a strong and large tendon that controls flexion and extension.

Tearing any of the tendons of the foot can be very painful. There may be trauma associated with a torn tendon of the foot. Ligaments sprains are more common, but severe injuries may involve both.

A complete tear of a tendon may limit the ability to walk. For example, if the Achilles tendon in the back of the foot tears, there is nothing to limit forward motion over the foot, which may prevent standing at all.

Can you Pull a Tendon in your Foot?

Pulling or straining a tendon in the foot is definitely possible. Both a pull and a strain are technically tears, but the severity can vary. Usually, pulling a tendon in the foot can come from repetitive stress from excessive walking, standing, or running. It may also occur with trauma. Excessive steroid use may weaken tendons and make them more likely to tear.

Muscles in the foot labeled diagram highlighting tendons and nerves of the foot. JOI Rehab

Muscles in the Foot

How do you Treat Tendonitis in the Foot?

Tendonitis in the foot can be very painful during normal daily activity. Tendonitis is inflammation in a tendon. The initial treatment should involve ice and rest for the first 48 hours. If tolerable, light stretching of the tendon may be initiated. This may not be appropriate with severe injuries.

Anti-inflammatory medications may be helpful, but a physician should be consulted before beginning using these medications.

Severe pain in the foot is 1 of the 5 foot and ankle symptoms you should not ignore.

Physical therapy is a great option to assess the severity and develop a custom program to rehabilitate tendonitis in the foot. A physical therapist can help with a healthy return to the previous activity level.

How Long Does it Take a Tendon to Heal?

The quick answer, tendons heal at different rates depending on the severity of the injury. Minor strains may take several weeks to recover. Severe strains or tears may take several months to recover.

Severe injuries may require a surgical tendon repair. This process requires much more time to heal. Many times, the tendon and foot are immobilized for 2 to 3 months after the surgery. Then, there are 3 to 6 months of rehabilitation required to return range of motion, strength, and normal walking tolerance.

Tendon Healing Time can vary from person to person.

Related Articles:

Ankle Sprains

Ankle Physical Therapy

Ligaments in the Foot


ligaments in the foot/

bones in the toes/

foot anatomy/

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