How The Bones On Our Feet Work

How The Bones On Our Feet Work

The foot is one of the most complex structures in the human anatomy, it is made up of 26 bones, many joints, soft tissues and ligaments to provide that very complex movement you are able to achieve that allows for walking, running, jumping, maintaining balance, correcting balance and of course supporting your whole body's weight while doing any other forms of activities.

Although as mentioned there are 26 bones in the foot, scientists and doctors break up the foot into 3 main manageable sections, these are called the forefoot, midfoot & hindfoot.
Let us take a look at what these are and do:


The more technical name for the forefoot is Phalanges. These are essentially the toes which as we know are made up of 5 bones. Each toe except the big toe has a similar structure, i.e. they have three phalanges which are effectively three joints, whereas the big toe only has two (the same is for the fingers on your hands)


The midfoot is more technically known as the Metatarsals. Effectively this mid-section of the foot that is designed to connect the forefoot and the hindfoot together. These are very similar to elongated phalanges, there are 5 in total.


Also known as Tarsals, these are a series of irregular bones setup in three rows knowns as proximal, intermediate and distal.

Helping The Bones Do Their Job

As impressive as the bone structure on our feet are, we must not forget what it takes to make them work. So we look at other important structures of what makes the foot work which are divided into several categories.

  • Bones (which we have just discussed)

  • Joints - This is the area where two or more bones meet for freedom of movement while also providing support. This is what provides flexibility in the skeleton which otherwise would stiff making it impossible to move anywhere.

  • Ligaments - These are bundles of connective tissue (collagen fibres) that connect the outer covering of one bone and an adjacent bone. These fibres are very strong, flexible and resistant to damage. Specifically the ligament is designs to control the direction of movement of your bones. For example, you are only able to bend your elbow in one direction, the ligaments stops you from bending your elbow in the other direction in order to prevent permanent damage.

  • Tendons - These are the connective points of skeletal muscles to bones... generally speaking connective tissue protects and supports organs and other tissues. Like ligaments, tendons are made up of collagen fibres, but ligaments are designed to connect one bone to the other, whereby tendons as mentioned have a similar role, but rather connect muscle to bones.

  • Muscles - Also necessary for movement are muscles which is made up of masses of tough tissue. This tissue is also elastic that is capable of expansion and contraction which is what provides force and movement. When the muscles expand or contract it consequently pulls and or pushes the bones that make up the skeleton and it is this reason we are able to move about.

  • Nerves - Now we come to probably one of the most complex part of the anatomy, the nerves. These are cells that are otherwise called neurones which create the nervous system. These cells are effectively designed to transport messages from one part of the body to an other, made up of tiny electrical signals. So for example, if you feel like going for a walk, your brain will tell your legs to move through these nerve impulses.... however, nerves are also a safety feature to your body, if something appears damaged, inflamed or broken, these electrical signals will provide pain in the damaged area to avoid you from applying any more stress of forces on that area.... this means a far quicker recovery with minimizing the possibility of further irreversible damaged.


As we can see the foot is an extremely complex structure and it is other important structures that connect and support the bone together that put the whole mechanism together. Often it is these other structures such as the muscles, tendons, ligaments etc that can get damaged. Their flexibility is precisely why our foot (and other parts of our body) is so maneuverable, but it is the very flexibility that makes the foot vulnerable to injuries and pain. We apply stress to our feet continually, in fact we need to apply stress to our feet to keep mobile and healthy.
Simply put, these everyday forces and pressure take a toll to our feet and with the many complex structures they create the building block of our feet, it is only a matter of time before something starts to give way by means of pain, injury, damage or fracture. One of the best and simplest continual methods to assist with healthy feet is in the form of massaging. Doing this on a regular basis can help with recovery and preventative measures, and one cheap, effective way to achieve this is through foot massaging equipment that basically massages your feet automatically in the comfort of your own armchair.

The importance of our feet is very underestimated and many of us do not think twice about our feet. Factors such as exercising our toes, letting our feet breathe, the impact of restriction through shoes etc is very often ignored. It is our feet that are the very building blocks to our society, without them we simply would not be able to move around and would not have achieved all the success humanity has reached until present day.

Happy feet makes a happy person.