Skip to Main Content

We have a new app!

Take the Access library with you wherever you go—easy access to books, videos, images, podcasts, personalized features, and more.

Download the Access App here: iOS and Android


©William E. Prentice


When you finish this chapter you will be able to:

  • Briefly describe the anatomy of the foot.

  • Explain the process of injury assessment for the foot.

  • Formulate steps that can be taken to minimize foot injuries.

  • Identify the causes of various foot injuries commonly seen in athletes.

  • Describe the appropriate care for injuries to the foot.


Many activities involve some elements of walking, running, jumping, and changing direction. The foot is in direct contact with the ground, and the forces created by these athletic movements place a great deal of stress on the structures of the foot. Consequently, the foot has a high incidence of injury.11

The function of the foot is critical in walking, running, jumping, and changing direction. In one instant, the foot must act as a shock absorber to dissipate the ground reaction forces. In the next instant, it must become a rigid lever that propels the body forward, backward, or to the side.30



The human foot must function both to absorb forces and to provide a stable base of support during walking, running, and jumping. It contains 26 bones (7 tarsal, 5 metatarsal, and 14 phalangeal) that are held together by an intricate network of ligaments and fascia and moved by a complex group of muscles (Figure 14–1). The tarsal bones that form the ankle include the talus and calcaneus. The navicular, cuboid, and three cuneiform bones form the instep of the foot.


Bony structure of the foot. From Van De Graaff, K., Human anatomy, 6th ed. Dubuque, IA: McGraw Hill, 2002.


Arches of the Foot

The foot is structured, by means of ligamentous and bony arrangements, to form several arches. The arches assist the foot in supporting the body weight and in absorbing the shock of weight bearing. There are four arches: the medial longitudinal, the lateral longitudinal, the metatarsal, and the transverse (Figure 14–2).


Arches of the foot: (A) Metatarsal and transverse arches. (B) Medial longitudinal arch. (C) Lateral longitudinal arch. ©William E. Prentice

The metatarsal arch is shaped by the distal heads of the metatarsals. The arch stretches from the first to the fifth metatarsal. The transverse arch extends across the cuboid and intermediate cuneiform and forms a half dome. The medial longitudinal arch originates along the medial border of the calcaneus and extends forward to the distal head of the first metatarsal. The main supporting ligament of the ...

Pop-up div Successfully Displayed

This div only appears when the trigger link is hovered over. Otherwise it is hidden from view.