Anatomy of the Ankle and Foot | Physit12 Apr 2018

Fact of the day for you: If a person walks on average 7,500 steps a day and lives to be 80 years old, they’ll have walked around 216,262,500 steps in their life time. Or, if it’s easier to imagine distances, that’s 110,000 miles. To put this in perspective, the circumference of the earth is 24,901 miles at the equator, so they’ll have walked round the Earth FIVE times. That’s a lot of shoes.

Let’s face it, we tend to take our feet and ankles for granted, but they are in fact extremely complex. Perfectly adapted to not only support our weight, but also to facilitate the lifetime of walking they’re designed for. It’s easy to only really appreciate our feet and ankles when they start to hurt, or when they aren’t as good as they once were.

Anatomy of the foot and ankle

Bones and Muscles

Our feet and ankles are both highly intricate structures, unfortunately this means all too often something may go wrong. Strains and sprains are common and can have long-lasting, painful consequences. Made up of 26 bones, and more than 33 joints arranged in columns and arches, each part has a vital role to play.

The muscles at the bottom of your leg are attached to bones in your feet by very strong and flexible pieces of tissue called tendons. It’s these which control our ability to walk, run, stand up, jump and go up on tiptoes. The muscles these tendons are attached to are what move your toes, and cushion your foot as it meets the ground. They also give strength and rigidity to the arches of your feet to propel your body forward. The up and down action you can make with your feet occurs because the ankle bone itself is joined to your leg bones to create a ‘hinge’.


The main nerve in your foot controls the muscles in your sole, and allows you to feel your toes. Other groups of nerves give feeling to the top and outside edge of your foot.

What sections make up the foot?

Designed to aid flexibility, each foot is described in three different parts:

This structure is made up of your heel bone (technical term is calcaneus) and your ankle (called the talus). The two of them are joined together by a joint called the subtalar joint, and it’s this joint which moves your foot from side to side.

Your heel bone itself is connected to the calf muscles in your lower leg by a thick, tough tendon called the Achilles tendon. Vital for standing and walking, the Achilles is commonly damaged during strenuous sports, such as football. Once over-stretched or ruptured it will need urgent treatment.

Additionally, there is also the tibialis posterior tendon, which attaches the underside of your foot to your lower leg, helping support the arch of your foot. It also means you can turn your foot inwards.

The middle of your foot (aptly named the mid foot)

This part consists of five tarsal bones, which give the arch of your foot its shape. The tarsal bones are then connected to the front and back of your foot by muscles and the arch ligament (called the plantar fascia). Just like the shock absorbers in a car, they reduce the impact when you’re walking or running.

The front of your foot (called the forefoot)

The third part is made up of your toe bones (called phalanges), which are connected to five long bones (metatarsals) by joints. Despite there being very limited movement in your toes, it’s actually your forefoot which takes around 50% of your body’s weight when walking. If you have continuous pain in any part of your ankles or feet, you may well find physiotherapy beneficial in not only treating the pain but preventing future weakness.

Physiotherapy Treatment to your door

Physit provides treatment in the convenience of your own location. If you need specialist Physiotherapy Treatment direct to your location throughout London within the North and South Circular, feel free to contact us:

Request a Booking Enquiry Form WhatsApp

07714 244 438

Enquiry Form

If you have any questions about our service or treatments, please complete our enquiry form and we will get back to you shortly. Alternatively, please feel free to call us on 07714 244 438 or email us directly

Request a Booking

Please complete our booking form and we will get back to you shortly to confirm your appointment. Alternatively, please feel free to call us on 07714 244 438


  • "I visited Physit and Phoebe Machin when I developed knee pain following a suddden increase in my exercise intensity. I was immediately reassured by Phoebe as she listened to my story and concerns. Sh..."

    Paul Henderson

  • "Booked an emergency appointment - they were lovely and understanding squeezing me in on the same day I called. The therapist arrived and set up at my work, which was super convenient for me. She work..."

    Dominique Alterskye

  • "I found myself in the early hours of the morning suffering from rapidly increasing back pain. I left a message at Physit and luckily they were able to fit me in at 8am the same day. I had several ses..."

    Martin Bazley

  • "As a footballer I've had many therapists for my injuries but my Physit therapist is by far the best massage therapist I've ever had. Highly knowledgeable, cares about her patients recovery and has so..."

    Axelle Courlander

  • "Physit is the best. They are amazing. Completely rehabilitated about 3 home visits whilst in London"


    Sandie Hogarth-Scott

  • "I felt pain in my legs and ankles after walking just 20 minutes or so, every time I went out. After some six sessions they have done their magic with a combination of physiotherapy and practical advi..."

    Darby C. London

  • "Suffering from a pinched nerve in my shoulder, I was in constant pain and had tingling in my hand. It also caused lack of sleep as I woke frequently to change position and relieve it.

    I had 5 sess..."

    David Hodgson

  • "I have been going to Physit now for about five years during which time they have treated my back, shoulder and foot. They are very thorough and always identifie the cause of the problem. The diagnose..."

    Rachel Hewlett

  • "I have suffered two sports injuries over the last 5 years and on both occasions have sought treatment from Physit. While others hear, they carefully listen and as a result treat injuries appropriatel..."

    Gary Watkins

  • "They have helped get me back on my feet on many occasions. They have expert knowledge and is always a pleasure to see. They also have some very useful acupuncture needles!"..."

    Alistair McGowan

  • "I have been absolutely delighted by their treatment of my knee. They immediately brought relief and flexibility to my condition. Above all their understanding and supportive manner are great salve an..."

    Liz G

  • "I have had the most professional Physiotherapy for my new knee and recently a new shoulder in my home by Physiotherapists from PHYSIT.

    When you work out the cost of a Taxi, both ways and the waiti..."

    J. R.

  • "Physit was recommended to me by the physiotherapists treating me at the Clavadel, a convalescent home near Guildford. I was treated there following a fractured femur.
    I was delighted to discover th..."

    L. H.

  • "I used the services of Physit following a road accident which resulted in me having pins down one side of my ankle and a plate down the other. I needed almost a year of physiotherapy to get back on (..."

    A. L.

  • After my hip replacement I was in need or rehabilitation and went to Physit, recommended by a friend. With their level of expertise I felt I was in good, professional hands. They have helped me enorm..."

    L. R.

  • The physio was brilliant - the therapists are all charming, very professional and really worked me hard so that I have made a very good progress. My Consultant referred to my progress as phenomenal!..."


More Testimonials
  • Chartered Society of Physiotherapy
  • Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists
  • Health & care professions council
  • Physio First
  • Albert Suites Battersea
  • GPDQ