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Part of 100+ Q&A about legs. See all.

Do all our nerves end at the soles of our feet?

Humans have nearly 8000 nerves in their feet. A pair of human feet also contains about 250,000 sweat glands, and these excrete as much as half a pint of moisture each day. In fact, the soles of our feet contain more sweat glands and sensory nerve endings per square centimeter than any other part of the body. Here’s an excellent video on foot reflexology that shows how application of appropriate pressure to specific points and areas on the feet can produce significant benefits many other parts of the body. This is mainly because of the concept that the foot, divided into reflex zones is representative of many parts of the body. (A couple of good web resources that guide on how foot reflexology works with easy to understand pictures – Link & Link )

The soles of the feet are extremely sensitive to touch due to a high concentration of nerve endings, with as many as 200,000 per sole. This makes them sensitive to surfaces that are walked on, ticklish and some people find them to be erogenous zones.

Medically, the soles are the site of the plantar reflex, the testing of which can be painful due to the sole’s sensitivity.

The deep fibular nerve from the common fibular nerve provides the sensory innervation of the skin between the first and second toes and the motor innervation of the muscles of the anterior compartment of the leg and dorsal foot. Damage to the deep fibular nerve can result in foot drop.

The plantar digital nerves from the medial plantar nerve provide sensory innervation to the skin of the plantar aspect of the toes, except the medial part of the big toe and the lateral part of the little toe and the motor innervation of the first lumbrical.

The proper plantar nerve from the common plantar digital nerve provide sensory innervation to the plantar surface of the toes as well as the dorsal aspect of the distal interphalangeal phalanges. It also provides motor innervation to flexor hallucis brevis.

The superficial and deep branches of the lateral plantar nerve from the tibial nerve provide sensory innervation to the skin of the lateral side of the sole, to the fifth and half the fourth toes, and the nail bed of these toes. They also provide motor innervation to quadratus plantae, abductor digiti minimi, flexor digiti minimi brevis, lateral three lumbricals, adductor hallucis, and the dorsal and plantar interossei.

The medial plantar nerve from the tibial nerve provides sensory innervation to the skin of the medial side of the sole, the skin of the medial three and a half toes, and the nail beds of these toes. It also provides motor innervation to abductor hallucis, flexor hallucis brevis, flexor digitorum brevis, and the first lumbrical.

The saphenous nerve from the femoral nerve provides sensory innervation to the medial side of the foot as well as the medial side of the leg. Likewise, the sural nerve provides sensory innervation to the skin on the lateral side of the foot as well as the skin on the posterior aspect of the lower leg.

The tibial nerve from the sciatic nerve provides sensory innervation to the skin of the sole and toes, and the dorsal aspect of the toes. It provides motor innervation to plantaris, tibialis posterior, flexor hallucis longus, flexor digitorum longus as well as posterior muscles in the leg.

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