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The Structure & Function Of The Tibia And Fibula

By Tyler Woodward

The Structure & Function Of The Tibia And Fibula

The tibia and fibula are the two bones that comprise the lower leg and are essential parts of our skeletal structure and function.


What Are The Tibia And Fibula & Where Are They Located?

What Are The Tibia & Fibula

The tibia & fibula are the two bones that make up the lower leg attaching the ankle joint to the knee joint. The tibia is much larger than the fibula and is most commonly known as the “shin bone”. The tibia also bears all of our bodyweight when standing compared to the fibula. 

The fibula on the other hand runs along the outside of the lower leg attaching to the ankle and ends right below the femur (the upper leg bone). The fibula is sometimes referred to as the calf bone and is largely responsible for supporting the movement of the ankle structure. 

What Muscles Connect To The Tibia And Fibula:

Muscles Of The Tibia & Fibula

There are a number of muscles that attach to the tibia & fibula in addition to muscles that run across the lower leg, attaching to the upper leg. These include:

  • Tibialis Anterior - Pulls the foot/ toes up towards your shin (dorsiflexion)
  • Extensor Digitorum Longus, Peroneus Tertius, Extensor Hallucis Longus - Smaller muscles that play a role in dorsiflexion of the foot and toes (pulling foot towards shin)
  • Soleus - Pull the heel back, pointing the foot down towards the ground
  • Gastrocnemius - Has the same function as the soleus, but also plays a role in knee flexion (pulling foot towards upper leg)
  • Flexor Hallucis Longus - Attaches only to the big toe and helps to extend it, pushing off through the big toe at the end of the gait cycle
  • Flexor Digitorium Longus - Attaches to the other four toes and helps to extend the foot, but also plays a role 
  • Peroneus Longus, Peroneus Brevis - These smaller muscles on the side of the lower leg help to extend the foot (point foot towards floor) and also rotate the feet to face each other (sole’s facing in)
  • Popliteus - Responsible for “unlocking” the knee cap (the patella) by rotating it

Read More: Movement is Medicine | A Guide To Moving Better

Common Injuries Of The Tibia And Fibula:

Common Injuries of the tibia & fibula

Because the tibia and fibula are bones the only types of injuries they can experience themselves are the various types of fractures. 

  • Tibial fractures - This comes in many different degrees of severity, but excess strain on the tibia can result in the fracturing of the tibia. The most common form of this is stress fractures of the tibia commonly known as shin splints. Although rare, more severe fractures like compound fractures can occur in the tibia.
  • Fibula fractures - Fibula fractures are more common than the tibia and can occur due to severe ankle sprains, heavy impact or wear and tear like the tibia.
  • Tibia-Fibula - It’s very common to actually break both of the bones in the lower leg rather than breaking one of the other, this is a very serious medical condition and requires immediate medical attention.

Other injuries can happen to the surrounding tissues like the tendons and ligament of the lower leg, the fibula for instance is very prone to experience ankle sprains.

Read More: 14 Hacks To Eliminate Inflammation Naturally

How To Maintain The Health Of Your Tibia & Fibula:

How To maintain bone health

The best way to maintain the health of any bones is two-fold

  1. Proper Diet - Your bones are your body’s primary source of calcium reserves, so in order to both build and maintain strong bones you must consume enough calcium. Additionally, Vitamin K2 is necessary to place calcium into the correct places (your bone, not your tissues) and Vitamin D significantly aids in calcium absorption.
  2. Adequate Movement - “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it”. If you want to maintain your bone density you must move enough throughout the day and place ample amounts of load through the bones. This will help to ensure that your bone density is maintained over time. Although my personal favorite method to accomplish this and to improve bone density is by utilizing resistance training, any form of movement or exercise that involves some form of resistance or impact will help to maintain your bone density.


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