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Ankle Anatomy and Physiology

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Updated June 12, 2014

The ankle and foot are incredibly complex, with a variet of connecting bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles.

Bones and Joints
The ankle is made up of two joints: The ankle joint and the subtalar joint. The ankle joint includes two bones (the tibia and the fibula) that form a joint that allows the foot to bend up and down. Two bones of the foot (the talus and the calcaneus) connect to make the subtalar joint that allows the foot to move side to side. The tarsal bones connect to the 5 long bones of the foot - the metatarsals.

Ligaments and Tendons
The large Achilles tendon is the most important tendon for walking, running and jumping. It attaches the calf muscles to the heel bone to allow us to puch off and up on the toes. There are another 12 tendons that cross the ankle. They are responsible for movements of the ankle, foot, and toes; some of these tendons also help support the arches of the foot.

Muscles
The muscles of the foot are classified as intrinsic and extrinsic. The intrinsic muscles are located within the foot and cause movement of the toes and are flexors (plantar flexors), extensors (dorsiflexors), abductors, and adductors of the toes. Several intrinsic muscles also help support the arches of the foot.

The extrinsic muscles are located outside the foot, in the lower leg. The gastrocnemius muscle (calf) is the largest. They have long tendons that cross the ankle, to attach on the bones of the foot and assist movement.

Ankle Injury Index

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