The Human Body


Foot (anatomy), in human anatomy, lowest structure on the leg, consisting of 26 bones and resembling the hand. Seven thick, short, tarsal bones compose the heel and back of the instep; five parallel metatarsal bones, which form the front of the instep, spread toward the front of the foot to form the ball. Fourteen smaller phalanges make up the toes; the large toe is composed of two, and each smaller toe is made up of three. All the bones are firmly connected by tough bands of tissue called ligaments; the plantar ligament runs from the heel bone to the metatarsals, keeping the bones in place. Movements of the foot are controlled by leg muscles.

The tarsal and metatarsal bones form the two arches of the foot: the plantar arch running from the heel to the ball and normally touching the ground only at each end, and the metatarsal arch across the ball of the foot. With the thick layer of fatty tissue under the sole, these flexible arches absorb pressure and the shocks of walking and jumping.