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Subtalar Joint.PNG
The calcaneus forms the bony part of the heel. It forms a joint with the talus bone, the subtalar joint.
Calcaneus animation01.gif
Bones of the foot, with the calcaneus shown in red
Latin calcaneus, calcaneum, os calcis
MeSH D002111
TA98 A02.5.11.001
TA2 1468
FMA 24496
Anatomical terms of bone

In humans and many other primates, the calcaneus ( /kælˈkniəs/ ; from the Latin calcaneus or calcaneum, meaning heel; [1] pl.: calcanei or calcanea) or heel bone is a bone of the tarsus of the foot which constitutes the heel. In some other animals, it is the point of the hock.



In humans, the calcaneus is the largest of the tarsal bones and the largest bone of the foot. Its long axis is pointed forwards and laterally. [2] The talus bone, calcaneus, and navicular bone are considered the proximal row of tarsal bones. [3] In the calcaneus, several important structures can be distinguished: [3]

There is a large calcaneal tuberosity located posteriorly on plantar surface with medial and lateral tubercles on its surface. Besides, there is another peroneal tubercle on its lateral surface. [2] On its lower edge on either side are its lateral and medial processes (serving as the origins of the abductor hallucis and abductor digiti minimi). The Achilles tendon is inserted into a roughened area on its superior side and the cuboid bone articulates with its anterior side.[ citation needed ] On its superior side there are three articular surfaces for the articulation with the talus bone. [2] Between these superior articulations and the equivalents on the talus is the tarsal sinus (a canal occupied by the interosseous talocalcaneal ligament).[ citation needed ] At the upper and forepart of the medial surface of the calcaneus, below the middle talar facet, there is a horizontal eminence, the talar shelf (also sustentaculum tali). [2] Sustentaculum tali gives attachment to the plantar calcaneonavicular (spring) ligament, tibiocalcaneal ligament, and medial talocalcaneal ligament. This eminence is concave above, and articulates with the middle calcaneal articular surface of the talus; below, it is grooved for the tendon of the flexor hallucis longus; its anterior margin gives attachment to the plantar calcaneonavicular ligament, and its medial margin to a part of the deltoid ligament of the ankle-joint.

On the lateral side is commonly a tubercle called the calcaneal tubercle (or trochlear process). This is a raised projection located between the tendons of the peroneus longus and brevis. It separates the two oblique grooves of the lateral surface of the calcaneus (for the tendons of the peroneal muscles).

Its chief anatomical significance is as a point of divergence of the previously common pathway shared by the distal tendons of peroneus longus and peroneus brevis en route to their distinct respective attachment sites. [3]

The calcaneus is part of two joints: the proximal intertarsal joint and the talocalcaneal joint. The point of the calcaneus is covered by the calcanean bursa.


In the calcaneus, an ossification center develops during the 4th7th week of fetal development. [3]


Three muscles insert on the calcaneus: the gastrocnemius, soleus, and plantaris. These muscles are part of the posterior compartment of the leg and aid in walking, running and jumping. Their specific functions include plantarflexion of the foot, flexion of the knee, and steadying the leg on the ankle during standing. The calcaneus also serves as origin for several short muscles that run along the sole of the foot and control the toes.

Muscle attachments (seen from above) Gray268.png
Muscle attachments (seen from above)
Muscle attachments (seen from below) Gray269.png
Muscle attachments (seen from below)
MuscleDirectionAttachment [4]
Gastrocnemius InsertionCalcaneal tubercle through the achilles tendon
Soleus InsertionCalcaneal tubercle through the achilles tendon
Plantaris InsertionCalcaneal tubercle either directly or through the achilles tendon
Extensor digitorum brevis Origin Dorsal side of calcaneus
Abductor hallucis OriginMedial process of calcaneus
Extensor hallucis brevis Origin Dorsal side of calcaneus
Abductor digiti minimi OriginCalcaneal tubercle
Flexor digitorum brevis OriginCalcaneal tubercle
Quadratus plantae OriginLateral and medial processes of calcaneus

Clinical significance

Calcaneus fracture X-ray Calcaneus Fracture.jpg
Calcaneus fracture X-ray

Normally the tibia sits vertically above the calcaneus (pes rectus). If the calcaneal axis between these two bones is turned medially the foot is in an everted position (pes valgus), and if it is turned laterally the foot is in an inverted position (pes varus). [5]


The talar shelf is typically involved in subtalar or talocalcaneal tarsal coalition.

See also

Additional images


  1. Mosby’s Medical, Nursing and Allied Health Dictionary, Fourth Edition, Mosby-Year Book Inc., 1994, p. 242
  2. 1 2 3 4 Ryan, Stephanie (2011). "Chapter 8". Anatomy for diagnostic imaging (Third ed.). Elsevier Ltd. p. 284. ISBN   9780702029714.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Platzer (2004), p 216
  4. Bojsen-Møller, Finn; Simonsen, Erik B.; Tranum-Jensen, Jørgen (2001). Bevægeapparatets anatomi[Anatomy of the Locomotive Apparatus] (in Danish) (12th ed.). pp. 364–367. ISBN   978-87-628-0307-7.
  5. Thieme Atlas of Anatomy (2006), p 410

Related Research Articles

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Human leg</span> Lower extremity or limb of the human body (foot, lower leg, thigh and hip)

The leg is the entire lower limb of the human body, including the foot, thigh or sometimes even the hip or buttock region. The major bones of the leg are the femur, tibia, and adjacent fibula. The thigh is between the hip and knee, while the calf (rear) and shin (front) are between the knee and foot.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fibularis longus</span> Superficial muscle in the lateral compartment of the leg

In human anatomy, the fibularis longus is a superficial muscle in the lateral compartment of the leg. It acts to tilt the sole of the foot away from the midline of the body (eversion) and to extend the foot downward away from the body at the ankle.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cuboid bone</span> Bone of the ankle

In the human body, the cuboid bone is one of the seven tarsal bones of the foot.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tibia</span> Leg bone in vertebrates

The tibia, also known as the shinbone or shankbone, is the larger, stronger, and anterior (frontal) of the two bones in the leg below the knee in vertebrates ; it connects the knee with the ankle. The tibia is found on the medial side of the leg next to the fibula and closer to the median plane. The tibia is connected to the fibula by the interosseous membrane of leg, forming a type of fibrous joint called a syndesmosis with very little movement. The tibia is named for the flute tibia. It is the second largest bone in the human body, after the femur. The leg bones are the strongest long bones as they support the rest of the body.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fibula</span> Leg bone in vertebrates

The fibula or calf bone is a leg bone on the lateral side of the tibia, to which it is connected above and below. It is the smaller of the two bones and, in proportion to its length, the most slender of all the long bones. Its upper extremity is small, placed toward the back of the head of the tibia, below the knee joint and excluded from the formation of this joint. Its lower extremity inclines a little forward, so as to be on a plane anterior to that of the upper end; it projects below the tibia and forms the lateral part of the ankle joint.

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The metatarsal bones or metatarsus are a group of five long bones in the midfoot, located between the tarsal bones and the phalanges (toes). Lacking individual names, the metatarsal bones are numbered from the medial side : the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth metatarsal. The metatarsals are analogous to the metacarpal bones of the hand. The lengths of the metatarsal bones in humans are, in descending order, second, third, fourth, fifth, and first. A bovine hind leg has two metatarsals.

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The ankle, the talocrural region or the jumping bone (informal) is the area where the foot and the leg meet. The ankle includes three joints: the ankle joint proper or talocrural joint, the subtalar joint, and the inferior tibiofibular joint. The movements produced at this joint are dorsiflexion and plantarflexion of the foot. In common usage, the term ankle refers exclusively to the ankle region. In medical terminology, "ankle" can refer broadly to the region or specifically to the talocrural joint.

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The talus, talus bone, astragalus, or ankle bone is one of the group of foot bones known as the tarsus. The tarsus forms the lower part of the ankle joint. It transmits the entire weight of the body from the lower legs to the foot.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Flexor hallucis longus muscle</span> One of the three deep muscles in the lower leg

The flexor hallucis longus muscle (FHL) attaches to the plantar surface of phalanx of the great toe and is responsible for flexing that toe. The FHL is one of the three deep muscles of the posterior compartment of the leg, the others being the flexor digitorum longus and the tibialis posterior. The tibialis posterior is the most powerful of these deep muscles. All three muscles are innervated by the tibial nerve which comprises half of the sciatic nerve.

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The extensor digitorum brevis muscle is a muscle on the upper surface of the foot that helps extend digits 2 through 4.

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In human anatomy, the fibularis brevis is a muscle that lies underneath the fibularis longus within the lateral compartment of the leg. It acts to tilt the sole of the foot away from the midline of the body (eversion) and to extend the foot downward away from the body at the ankle.

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In human anatomy, the subtalar joint, also known as the talocalcaneal joint, is a joint of the foot. It occurs at the meeting point of the talus and the calcaneus.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Inferior extensor retinaculum of foot</span> Y-shaped band placed in front of the ankle-joint

The inferior extensor retinaculum of the foot is a Y-shaped band placed in front of the ankle-joint, the stem of the Y being attached laterally to the upper surface of the calcaneus, in front of the depression for the interosseous talocalcaneal ligament; it is directed medialward as a double layer, one lamina passing in front of, and the other behind, the tendons of the peroneus tertius and extensor digitorum longus.

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The talocalcaneonavicular joint is a ball and socket joint; the rounded head of the talus is received into the concavity formed by the posterior surface of the navicular, the anterior articular surface of the calcaneus, and the upper surface of the plantar calcaneonavicular ligament.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Plantar calcaneonavicular ligament</span> Ligaments on the underside of the foot

The plantar calcaneonavicular ligament is a complex of three ligaments on the underside of the foot that connect the calcaneus with the navicular bone.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Deltoid ligament</span> Anatomical detail in the ankle

The deltoid ligament is a strong, flat, triangular band, attached, above, to the apex and anterior and posterior borders of the medial malleolus. The deltoid ligament supports the ankle joint and also resists excessive eversion of the foot. The deltoid ligament is composed of 4 fibers:

  1. Anterior tibiotalar ligament
  2. Tibiocalcaneal ligament
  3. Posterior tibiotalar ligament
  4. Tibionavicular ligament.