What Is the Midfoot?

The arch of the human foot is located in the midfoot area

Foot with the midfoot bones outlined and labeled.. Photo © Terence Vanderheiden, D.P.M.

The midfoot is one of three regions of the human foot. Its name is somewhat self-explanatory, referring to the area area in the middle of the foot. It encompasses the arch of the foot and is composed of bones, tendons and ligaments, connecting the forefoot with the hindfoot.

Structure of the Human Foot

The human foot is an incredibly complex part of the body, made up of 26 bones—fully 25 percent of the total number of bones in the entire body.

It is strong, flexible and durable, able to bear considerable weight, impact force and general wear-and-tear as it propels us when we walk, run, jump, pivot and even simply stand still. 

The bones of the foot are divided into three groups:

  • The phalanges
  • The metatarsal bones
  • The tarsal bones

The foot is divided into three major structural areas: the forefoot, the midfoot and the hindfoot or rearfoot.

Structure of the Midfoot

The midfoot contains five bones known as the lesser tarsal bones as a group. These bones include:

  • Cuboid: The cuboid bone is one of the seven tarsal bones located on the lateral or outer part of the foot and, as its name suggests, is cube-shaped.  It provides stability, connecting the foot and the ankle, and assists in the movement of the toes. It is located between and articulates with the fourth and fifth metatarsal bones and calcaneus, or heel bone. It lies behind the fourth and fifth toes and in front of the heel bone. 
  • Navicular: A tarsal bone, often described as being boat-shaped, located in the top inner side of the foot that articulates with the talus (anklebone) and the cuneiform bones.
  • Medial cuneiform: A wedge-shaped bone that makes up the joints of the middle foot. It is located on the inside of the foot behind the first metatarsal (a bone of the big toe) and in front of the navicular. The largest of the cuneiform bones, it anchors several ligaments in the foot.
  • Intermediate cuneiform: Located between the other two cuneiform bones, it is also wedge-shaped. It articulates with the two other cuneiform bones, the second metatarsal (connected to the bones of the second toe) and the navicular bone. It is the smallest of the cuneiform bones. It is essential to the flexibility of the foot.
  • Lateral cuneiform: Located at the center of the front tarsal bones, the lateral cuneiform sits between the third metatarsal, the cuboid, the navicular and the intermediate cuneiform bones.

Flat Feet

Athletes, especially runners, can experience problems in the midfoot region of the foot. Beyond possible problems with broken bones, a common concern for some people in the midfoot area of the foot is flat feet

For those with flat feet, the first arch that run between the heel and the toes and the second arch that is aligned across the foot are both lower to the ground, giving the appearance of a "flat foot." The condition of flat feet may not interfere with movement or present other problems, though for some walking, running and participation in sports may result in mild pain.

It is usually a congenital issue, but deterioration in tissues in a normal foot can lead to flat feet.

Orthotics, such as shoe inserts, are one of the most common treatments for flat feet.

Further Reading

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