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Subtalar Joint.PNG
Subtalar Joint
Left calcaneus, lateral surface.
Latin Calcaneus
Os calcis'
Gray's p.263
MeSH A02.835.232.043.300.710.300
TA A02.5.11.001
FMA 24496
Anatomical terms of bone

In humans, the calcaneus (/kælˈknəs/; from the Latin calcaneus or calcaneum, meaning heel[1]) 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.


Left calcaneus, superior and medial aspects.

In humans, the calcaneus is the largest of the tarsal bones and the largest bone of the foot. The tarsal bones of the ankle are arranged in proximal and distal groups somewhat like the carpal bones of the wrist. Because of the load-bearing role of the ankle, however, their shapes and arrangement are conspicuously different from those of the carpal bones, and they are thoroughly integrated into the structure of the foot. In the calcaneus, several important structures can be distinguished:[2]

The posterior half of the bone is the tuber calcanei. On its lower edge on either side are its lateral and medial processes (serving as the origins of the abductor hallucis and abductor digit minimi). The calcaneal (Achilles) tendon is inserted into a roughened area on its superior side, the cuboid bone articulates with its anterior side, and on its superior side are three articular surfaces for the articulation with the talus bone. Between these superior articulations and the equivalents on the talus is the tarsal sinus (a canal occupied by the interosseous talocalcaneal ligament). On the medial side of the bone, below the middle talar facet, is the sustentaculum tali (which serves for the attachment of several other ligaments). On the lateral side is commonly a tubercle called the peroneal trochlea, under which is a groove for the tendon of the peroneus longus. The talus, calcaneus, and navicular are considered the proximal row of tarsal bones. [2]

With normal axial alignment in the hindfoot, the axes of the tibia and calcaneus lie on a vertical line (pes rectus). If the calcaneal axis 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). [3]

The calcaneus has two articulations, being part of the proximal intertarsal joint and the talocalcaneal joint. As in humans it is the insertion of the gastrocnemius and superficial digital flexor tendons. The point of the calcaneus is covered by the calcanean bursa.


In the calcaneus, an ossification center is developed during the 4th7th week of fetal development. [2]


The calcaneus serves as the insertion point for three muscles: the gastrocnemius, soleus, and plantaris. These muscles have a variety of functions which include: plantar flexion of the foot, flexion of the knee, steadying the leg on the ankle during standing, and aiding in walking, running, and jumping. All of these muscles are innervated by the tibial nerve, and compromise the posterior (flexor) compartment of the leg.

Muscle attachments (seen from above)
Muscle attachments (seen from below)
Muscle Direction Attachment[4]
Gastrocnemius Insertion Tuber calcanei through the achilles tendon
Soleus Insertion Tuber calcanei through the achilles tendon
Plantaris Insertion Tuber calcanei either directly or through the achilles tendon
Extensor digitorum brevis Origin Dorsal side of calcaneus
Abductor hallucis Origin Medial process of calcaneus
Extensor hallucis brevis Origin Dorsal side of calcaneus
Abductor digiti minimi Origin Tuber calcanei
Flexor digitorum brevis Origin Tuber calcanei
Quadratus plantae Origin Lateral and medial processes of calcaneus

Clinical significance[edit]

See also[edit]

This article uses anatomical terminology; for an overview, see anatomical terminology.

Additional images[edit]


  1. ^ Mosby’s Medical, Nursing and Allied Health Dictionary, Fourth Edition, Mosby-Year Book Inc., 1994, p. 242
  2. ^ a b c Platzer (2004), p 216
  3. ^ Thieme Atlas of Anatomy (2006), p 410
  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. 


External links[edit]