Extensor digitorum longus
The extensor digitorum longus muscle is located at the front of the leg and is adjacent to the peroneus brevis muscle and the tibialis anterior muscle. This wing-shaped muscle works to extend the foot at the ankle and the four smallest toes. It is serviced by the deep peroneal nerve and the anterior tibial artery. The upper two-thirds to three-fourths of the muscle extend over the fibula and the muscle passes below the cruciate crural and transverse ligaments. After passing these nerves the muscle divides to service the toes and is joined to the second, third, and fourth toe by tendons from the extensor digitorum brevis. Variations within the extensor digitorum longus muscle are not uncommon and include attachment to the big toe. Double tendons from the fifth or second toe have also been observed without adverse effects. Inflammation of this muscle will make climbing stairs difficult, but problems can be avoided by working a shin stretch into a regular routine. Exercises such as toe raises can strengthen the muscle and prevent inflammation if recurring strains become problematic.
Written and medically reviewed by the Healthline Editorial Team
In Depth: Extensor digitorum longus