Lower extremity

When a medical professional refers to your lower extremity, they’re typically referring to everything between your hip to your toes.

You lower extremity is a combination of parts:

  • hip
  • thigh
  • knee
  • leg
  • ankle
  • foot
  • toes

There are over 30 bones in each of your lower extremities including:


Upper leg

Lower leg



  • metatarsals: although located in the middle of the foot, they’re typically considered part of the forefoot
  • phalanges (toes): each toe has three bones except the big toe, which has two

The muscles in your lower extremity contract and relax to move skeletal bones and thus the body. Each of your lower extremities has more than 40 muscles.


There are 17 hip muscles, which can be sorted into four main groups:

Upper leg

The quadriceps include four muscles in the front of the leg that help extend the leg straight:

The hamstrings include three muscles in the back that extend the thigh and flex the knee:

Lower leg

The calf muscles include three muscles that are critical for ankle, foot and toe movement:

  • gastrocnemius: flexes and extends the foot, ankle, and knee
  • soleus: important in walking and standing
  • plantaris: acts with the gastrocnemius
  • popliteus: initiates knee flexion/bending


Of the 20 muscles in each foot, the main ones are:

  • tibialis anterior: moves foot move upward
  • tibialis posterior: supports the arch and flexes the foot
  • peroneals: move ankle and foot laterally
  • extensors: raise toes at ankles for stepping forward
  • flexors: stabilize toes against the ground

Your lower extremities are a complex combination of ligaments, tendons, muscles, bone, blood vessels, nerves, and more. Some important components of your lower extremities include:

Achilles tendon

Your Achilles tendon — the largest tendon in the body — connects the muscles in the back of your calf to your heel bone. When your calf muscle flexes, the Achilles tendon pulls on your heel so you can stand, walk, or run on your toes.

Femoral artery

Your femoral artery is the main arterial blood supply to your leg. It’s located in the front of your thigh.

Sciatic nerve

Your sciatic nerve branches from your lower back, through your hips and backside, and down each leg.

You might call the area between your hip and toes your leg, but a medical professional will call it your lower extremity, considering your leg as the area between your knee and your ankle.