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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Male Right Foot 1.jpg
Latin pes
Artery dorsalis pedis, medial plantar, lateral plantar
Nerve medial plantar, lateral plantar, deep fibular, superficial fibular
MeSH Foot
Dorlands/Elsevier Foot

The foot is an anatomical structure found in many vertebrates. It is the terminal portion of a limb which bears weight and allows locomotion. In many animals with feet, the foot is a separate organ at the terminal part of the leg made up of one or more segments or bones, generally including claws or nails.


Human foot


The human foot and ankle is a strong and complex mechanical structure containing 26 bones, 33 joints (20 of which are actively articulated), and more than a hundred muscles, tendons, and ligaments.[1]

An anthropometric study of 1197 North American adult Caucasian males (men age 35.5 years) found that a man's foot length was 26.3 cm with a standard deviation of 1.2 cm.[2]

The foot can be subdivided into the hindfoot, the midfoot, and the forefoot:

The hindfoot is composed of the talus or ankle bone and the calcaneus or heel bone. The two long bones of the lower leg, the tibia and fibula, are connected to the top of the talus to form the ankle. Connected to the talus at the subtalar joint, the calcaneus, the largest bone of the foot, is cushioned inferiorly by a layer of fat.[1]

The five irregular bones of the midfoot, the cuboid, navicular, and three cuneiform bones, form the arches of the foot which serves as a shock absorber. The midfoot is connected to the hind- and fore-foot by muscles and the plantar fascia.[1]

The forefoot is composed of five toes and the corresponding five proximal long bones forming the metatarsus. Similar to the fingers of the hand, the bones of the toes are called phalanges and the big toe has two phalanges while the other four toes have three phalanges. The joints between the phalanges are called interphalangeal and those between the metatarsus and phalanges are called metatarsophalangeal (MTP).[1]


A human foot; label three is the instep. Enlarge to view legend.

There can be many sesamoid bones near the metatarsophalangeal joints, although they are only regularly present in the distal portion of the first metatarsal bone.[3]


The human foot has two longitudinal arches and a transverse arch maintained by the interlocking shapes of the foot bones, strong ligaments, and pulling muscles during activity. The slight mobility of these arches when weight is applied to and removed from the foot makes walking and running more economical in terms of energy. As can be examined in a footprint, the medial longitudinal arch curves above the ground. This arch stretches from the heel bone over the "keystone" ankle bone to the three medial metatarsals. In contrast, the lateral longitudinal arch is very low. With the cuboid serving as its keystone, it redistributes part of the weight to the calcaneus and the distal end of the fifth metatarsal. The two longitudinal arches serve as pillars for the transverse arch which run obliquely across the tarsometatarsal joints. Excessive strain on the tendons and ligaments of the feet can result in fallen arches or flat feet.[4]


The muscles acting on the foot can be classified into extrinsic muscles, those originating on the anterior or posterior aspect of the lower leg, and intrinsic muscles, originating on the dorsal or plantar aspects of the foot.

Anterior leg muscles.

All muscles originating on the lower leg except the popliteus muscle are attached to the bones of the foot. The tibia and fibula and the interosseous membrane separate these muscles into anterior and posterior groups, in their turn subdivided into subgroups and layers. [5]

Anterior group

Extensor group: tibialis anterior originates on the proximal half of the tibia and the interosseous membrane and is inserted near the tarsometatarsal joint of the first digit. In the non-weight-bearing leg tibialis anterior flexes the foot dorsally and lift its medial edge (supination). In the weight-bearing leg it brings the leg towards the back of the foot, like in rapid walking. Extensor digitorum longus arises on the lateral tibial condyle and along the fibula to be inserted on the second to fifth digits and proximally on the fifth metatarsal. The extensor digitorum longus acts similar to the tibialis anterior except that it also dorsiflexes the digits. Extensor hallucis longus originates medially on the fibula and is inserted on the first digit. As the name implies it dorsiflexes the big toe and also acts on the ankle in the unstressed leg. In the weight-bearing leg it acts similar to the tibialis anterior. [6]

Peroneal group: peroneus longus arises on the proximal aspect of the fibula and peroneus brevis below it on the same bone. Together, their tendons pass behind the lateral malleolus. Distally, peroneus longus crosses the plantar side of the foot to reach its insertion on the first tarsometatarsal joint, while peroneus brevis reaches the proximal part of the fifth metatarsal. These two muscles are the strongest pronators and aid in plantar flexion. Longus also acts like a bowstring that braces the transverse arch of the foot. [7]

Deep and superficial layers of posterior leg muscles

Posterior group

The superficial layer of posterior leg muscles is formed by the triceps surae and the plantaris. The triceps surae consists of the soleus and the two heads of the gastrocnemius. The heads of gastrocnemius arise on the femur, proximal to the condyles, and soleus arises on the proximal dorsal parts of the tibia and fibula. The tendons of these muscles merge to be inserted onto the calcaneus as the Achilles tendon. Plantaris originates on the femur proximal to the lateral head of the gastrocnemius and its long tendon is embedded medially into the Achilles tendon. The triceps surae is the primary plantar flexor and its strength becomes most obvious during ballet dancing. It is fully activated only with the knee extended because the gastrocnemius is shortened during knee flexion. During walking it not only lifts the heel, but also flexes the knee, assisted by the plantaris. [8]

In the deep layer of posterior muscles tibialis posterior arises proximally on the back of the interosseous membrane and adjoining bones and divides into two parts in the sole of the foot to attach to the tarsus. In the non-weight-bearing leg, it produces plantar flexion and supination, and, in the weight-bearing leg, it proximates the heel to the calf. flexor hallucis longus arises on the back of the fibula (i.e. on the lateral side), and its relatively thick muscle belly extends distally down to the flexor retinaculum where it passes over to the medial side to stretch across the sole to the distal phalanx of the first digit. The popliteus is also part of this group, but, with its oblique course across the back of the knee, does not act on the foot. [9]


On the back (top) of the foot, the tendons of extensor digitorum brevis and extensor hallucis brevis lie deep to the system of long extrinsic extensor tendons. They both arise on the calcaneus and extend into the dorsal aponeurosis of digits one to four, just beyond the penultimate joints. They act to dorsiflex the digits. [10]

Dorsal and plantar aspects of foot

Similar to the intrinsic muscles of the hand, there are three groups of muscles in the sole of foot, those of the first and last digits, and a central group:

Muscles of the big toe: abductor hallucis stretches medially along the border of the sole, from the calcaneus to the first digit. Below its tendon, the tendons of the long flexors pass through the tarsal canal. It is an abductor and a weak flexor, and also helps maintain the arch of the foot. flexor hallucis brevis arises on the medial cuneiform bone and related ligaments and tendons. An important plantar flexor, it is crucial for ballet dancing. Both these muscles are inserted with two heads proximally and distally to the first metatarsophalangeal joint. Adductor hallucis is part of this group, though it originally formed a separate system (see contrahens.) It has two heads, the oblique head originating obliquely across the central part of the midfoot, and the transverse head originating near the metatarsophalangeal joints of digits five to three. Both heads are inserted into the lateral sesamoid bone of the first digit. Adductor hallucis acts as a tensor of the plantar arches and also adducts the big toe and then might plantar flex the proximal phalanx. [11]

Muscles of the little toe: Stretching laterally from the calcaneus to the proximal phalanx of the fifth digit, abductor digiti minimi form the lateral margin of the foot and is the largest of the muscles of the fifth digit. Arising from the base of the fifth metatarsal, flexor digiti minimi is inserted together with abductor on the first phalanx. Often absent, opponens digiti minimi originates near the cuboid bone and is inserted on the fifth metatarsal bone. These three muscles act to support the arch of the foot and to plantar flex the fifth digit. [12]

Central muscles of foot

Central muscle group: The four lumbricales arise on the medial side of the tendons of flexor digitorum longus and are inserted on the medial margins of the proximal phalanges. Quadratus plantae originates with two slips from the lateral and medial margins of the calcaneus and inserts into the lateral margin of the flexor digitorum tendon. It is also known as flexor accessorius. Flexor digitorum brevis arise inferiorly on the calcaneus and its three tendons are inserted into the middle phalanges of digits two to four (sometimes also the fifth digit). These tendons divide before their insertions and the tendons of flexor digitorum longus pass through these divisions. Flexor digitorum brevis flexes the middle phalanges. It is occasionally absent. Between the toes, the dorsal and plantar interossei stretch from the metatarsals to the proximal phalanges of digits two to five. The plantar interossei adducts and the dorsal interossei abducts these digits and are also plantar flexors at the metatarsophalangeal joints. [13]

Medical aspects

Due to their position and function, feet are exposed to a variety of potential infections and injuries, including athlete's foot, bunions, ingrown toenails, Morton's neuroma, plantar fasciitis, plantar warts and stress fractures. In addition, there are several genetic disorders that can affect the shape and function of the feet, including a club foot or flat feet.

This leaves humans more vulnerable to medical problems that are caused by poor leg and foot alignments. Also, the wearing of shoes, sneakers and boots can impede proper alignment and movement within the ankle and foot. For example, high heels are known to throw off the natural weight balance (this can also affect the lower back). For the sake of posture, flat soles and heels are advised.

A doctor who specializes in the treatment of the feet practices podiatry and is called a podiatrist. A pedorthist specializes in the use and modification of footwear to treat problems related to the lower limbs.

Evolutionary variations

A paw is the soft foot of a mammal, generally a quadruped, that has claws or nails. A hard foot is called a hoof.

Depending on style of locomotion, animals can be classified as plantigrade (sole walking), digitigrade (toe walking), or ungulate (nail walking).

The metatarsals are the bones that make up the main part of the foot in humans, and part of the leg in large animals or paw in smaller animals. The number of metatarsals are directly related to the mode of locomotion  — five digits being the most primitive[citation needed] setup, with many larger animals having their digits reduced to two (elk, cow, sheep) or one (horse). The metatarsal bones of feet and paws are tightly grouped compared to, most notably, the human hand where the thumb metacarpal diverges from the rest of the metacarpus. [14]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Podiatry Channel, Anatomy of the foot and ankle
  2. ^ Hawes MR, Sovak D (July 1994). "Quantitative morphology of the human foot in a North American population". Ergonomics 37 (7): 1213–26. doi:10.1080/00140139408964899. PMID 8050406. 
  3. ^ Platzer 2004, p 220
  4. ^ Mareb-Hoehn 2007, pp 244-45
  5. ^ Platzer 2004, p 256
  6. ^ Platzer 2004, p 258
  7. ^ Platzer 2004, p 260
  8. ^ Platzer 2004, p 262
  9. ^ Platzer 2004, p 264
  10. ^ Platzer 2004, p 268
  11. ^ Platzer 2004, pp 270-72
  12. ^ Platzer 2004, p 272
  13. ^ Platzer 2004, p 274
  14. ^ France 2008, p 537


External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

FOOT, the lower part of the leg, in vertebrate animals consisting of tarsus, metatarsus and phalanges, on which the body rests when in an upright position, standing or moving (see Anatomy: Superficial and Artistic; and Skeleton: Appendicular). The word is also applied to such parts of invertebrate animals as serve as a foot, either for movement or attachment to a surface. "Foot" is a word common in various forms to Indo-European languages, Dutch, voet, Ger. Fuss, Dan. fod, &c. The Aryan root is pod-, which appears in Sans. pud, Gr. irois, iroMs, and Lat. pes, pedis. From the resemblance to the foot, in regard to its position, as the base of anything, or as the lowest member of the body, or in regard to its function of movement, the word is applied to the lowest part of a hill or mountain, the plate,of a sewing-machine which holds the material in position, to the part of an organ pipe below the mouth, and the like. In printing the bottom of a type is divided by a groove into two portions known as "feet." Probably referring to the beating of the rhythm with the foot in dancing, the Gr. 'was and Lat. pes were applied in prosody to a grouping of syllables, one of which is stressed, forming the division of a verse. "Foot," i.e. foot-soldier, was formerly, with an ordinal number prefixed, the name of the infantry regiments of the British army. It is now superseded by territorial designations, but it still is used in the four regiments of the infantry of the Household, the Foot Guards. As a lineal measure of length the "foot" is of great antiquity, estimated originally by the length of a man's foot (see Weights And Measures). For the ceremonial washing of feet, see Maundy Thursday.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010
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Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

A human foot.



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Most common English words: duty « heavy « single « #616: foot » beauty » attention » standing


Old English fōt, from Proto-Germanic *fōtaz, from Proto-Indo-European *pṓds.





foot (plural feet)

  1. (countable) A biological structure found in many animals that is used for locomotion and that is frequently a separate organ at the terminal part of the leg. transl.
    A spider has eight feet.
  2. (countable, anatomy) Specifically, a human foot, which is found below the ankle and is used for standing and walking. transl.
    Southern Italy is shaped like a foot.
  3. (uncountable, often used attributively) Travel by walking.
    We went there by foot because we could not afford a taxi.
    There is a lot of foot traffic on this street.
  4. (countable) The base or bottom of anything. transl.
    I'll meet you at the foot of the stairs.
  5. (countable) The part of a flat surface on which the feet customarily rest.
    We came and stood at the foot of the bed.
  6. (countable) The end of a rectangular table opposite the head. coord.
    The host should sit at the foot of the table.
  7. (countable) A short foot-like projection on the bottom of an object to support it. transl.
    The feet of the stove hold it a safe distance above the floor.
  8. (countable) A unit of measure equal to twelve inches or one third of a yard, equal to exactly 30.48 centimetres. usage  coord.
    Most people are less than six feet tall.
  9. (military, plural only; not used in singular form) Foot soldiers; infantry. coord.
    King John went to battle with ten thousand foot and one thousand horse.
  10. (countable, cigars) The end of a cigar which is lit, and usually cut before lighting.
  11. (countable, sewing) The part of a sewing machine which presses downward on the fabric, and may also serve to move it forward.
  12. (countable, printing) The bottommost part of a typed or printed page. coord.
  13. (countable, prosody) The basic measure of rhythm in a poem. transl.
  14. (countable, phonology) The parsing of syllables into prosodic constituents, which are used to determine the placement of stress in languages along with the notions of constituent heads.
  15. (countable, nautical) The bottom edge of a sail. coord. transl.
    To make the mainsail fuller in shape, the outhaul is eased to reduce the tension on the foot of the sail.
  16. (countable, billiards) The end of a billiard or pool table behind the foot point where the balls are racked.
  17. (countable, malacology) The muscular part of a bivalve mollusc by which it moves or holds its position on a surface.
  18. (countable, molecular biology) The globular lower domain of a protein. coord.
  19. (countable, geometry) The foot of a line perpendicular to a given line is the point where the lines intersect.
Usage notes
  • (unit of length def.): The ordinary plural of the unit of measurement is feet, but in many contexts, foot itself may be used (“a six-foot tall man”). This is a reflex of the Anglo-Saxon (Old English) genitive plural.[1]

Derived terms

Coordinate terms


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

See also

  • pedal, relating to the foot


to foot

Third person singular

Simple past

Past participle

Present participle

to foot (third-person singular simple present foots, present participle footing, simple past and past participle footed)

  1. (transitive) To use the foot to kick (usually a ball).
  2. (transitive) To pay (a bill).
  3. (linguistics, transitive) To parse into metrical feet.

Derived terms

  • foot the bill


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.


  • Notes:
  1. ^ Rich Alderson, “Why do we say ‘30 years old’, but ‘a 30-year-old man’?”,[1] in Mark Israel, the alt.usage.english FAQ.




foot m.

  1. (uncountable) (colloquial) football (soccer)
    Zidane est un des meilleurs joueurs de foot du monde.
    Toutes les semaines, il regarde du foot à la télé.

Derived terms

  • ballon de foot

Simple English

Foot is also the name of a unit of measurement. See foot (unit of length).

A foot (one foot, two or more feet) is a body part on the end of a leg. We use it when walking, and it is important for balance: it helps us stand straight. We also use it to kick, in both fighting and sports, football being an example.

People's hands and feet have the same shape: they both have five digits (the fingers and toes). Many other animals with backbones also have five digits. The part of the foot which joins it to the leg is called the heel. The bottom of the foot is called the sole. Half the bones in our body are in the foot. Doctors who work with people's feet are podiatrists or chiropodists.

Animals often have feet, and there are a lot of different sorts of foot. When an animal has soft feet, or feet with soft parts on the underside, we often call it a paw.

In many societies, people like to cover the foot when they are with others, especially outside. In many cultures (for example North American, European, Japanese and others) people wear clothing over the foot to keep it safe. This footwear has special names, for example sandals, shoes, and boots. When people always wear footwear, especially in hot places or when they are very active, their feet can smell badly (foot odour). If footwear is too big or small, it can be bad for the feet when the person wears the shoe because it can cause long term damage. People who have foot, leg, and back problems can also get help from special shoes.

People have different traditions in different parts of the world for when to wear footwear. For example, in much of Europe and Canada, people usually do not wear their shoes or boots in a home or visiting. In the United States people often wear shoes inside a home. In Japan, people do not wear shoes, and floors are often made of very soft materials, too soft for shoes. In cultures where people always wear shoes, people sometimes think it is bad not to wear them. Not wearing shoes can be good for the feet, especially for children's feet.

Conditions like Athlete's foot affect the feet, causing the feet to feel dry and cracked.

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