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Extensor Digitorum Longus: Action, Origin & Insertion

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  • 0:04 Walking Muscle
  • 0:35 Origin
  • 1:13 Insertion
  • 1:51 The Extensor Digitorum
  • 2:08 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dan Washmuth

Dan has taught college Nutrition, Anatomy, Physiology, and Sports Nutrition courses and has a master's degree in Dietetics & Nutrition.

The extensor digitorum longus is an important muscle that performs several movements of the ankle and toes. Want to learn more about the origin, insertion, and action of this muscle? Read this lesson!

Walking Muscle

Take a look at the following picture of these people walking, paying close attention to the position of their feet and ankles as they're stepping forward.


The extensor digitorum longus muscle is a very important muscle that allows people to walk properly.
walking


What did you notice about their feet and ankles? Did you notice that their feet and ankles are bent upward as they step forward? This foot and ankle position is known as dorsiflexion, which is a movement vital for walking, and caused in large part by the extensor digitorum longus muscle. The extensor digitorum longus muscle is a long, thin muscle that runs down the front of the shin, across the ankle joint, and into the toes.


The extensor digitorum longus is a thin, long muscle of the shin, ankle, and foot.
extensor


Origin

The extensor digitorum longus muscle originates from multiple places throughout the knee joint and shin region of the leg. These points of origin include the:

  • Lateral condyle of the tibia: The tibia is the bone on the big toe side of the shin, and the lateral condyle is a large, round prominence located at the top, outer portion of the tibia.
  • Front surface of the fibula: The fibula is the bone on the pinky toe side of the shin, and the extensor digitorum longus originates from the front surface of the top 3/4 of this bone.
  • Top portion of interosseous membrane: The interosseous membrane is a fibrous tissue that connects the tibia and fibula.


The extensor digitorum longus muscle originates from the fibula, interosseous membrane, and the lateral condyle of the tibia.
shin bone


Insertion

The extensor digitorum longus muscle extends down the front of the shin, passes the ankle joint, and inserts onto the middle and distal parts of the toe bones. The toe bones are called phalanges, and each of these phalanges consists of three segments of bones: proximal (closest to foot), middle, and distal (farthest from foot). Additionally, the toes are numbered one to five, starting with the big toe and ending with the pinky toe.

The extensor digitorum longus inserts onto the middle and distal phalanges of the second through fifth toes. Therefore, this muscle inserts onto the middle and distal bones of all the toes except for the big toe.


The extensor digitorum longus inserts onto the middle and distal phalanges of toes two through five.
phalanges


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