[ plan-ter ]
/ ˈplæn tər /
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adjective Anatomy, Zoology.
of or relating to the sole of the foot.
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Origin of plantar

1700–10; <Latin plantāris, equivalent to plant(a) sole of the foot + -āris-ar1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What is plantar flexion?

Plantar flexion refers to the movement of the foot when it is bent at the ankle away from the body, accomplished by flexing muscles in the calf, ankle, and foot.

How do you pronounce plantar flexion?

[ plan-ter flek-shuhn ]

Where did the term plantar flexion come from?

Plantar flexion is derived from the Latin planta, “sole”, and flectere, “to bend.” Early modern scientists often coined new kinesiological terms by combining the Latin names for body parts with its directionality. Plantar flexion describes foot movement contracting muscles in the sole of the foot while its opposite motion, dorsal flexion or dorsiflexion, describes movement toward the upper side or back.

While plantar is recorded in the early 1700s and flexion before it in the early 1600s, the particular phrase plantar flexion isn’t evidenced until at least 19th-century anatomical texts to describe one of several possible ankle movements. In contemporary anatomy and medicine, plantar flexion remains a technical term for the downward-pointing of the foot. The term can be found on popular internet medical resources such as WebMd and Healthline.

Plantar flexion is a natural movement of which healthy feet are capable, and any pain or interruption due to plantar flexion may indicate a medical problem. Examples of plantar flexion include standing on tiptoes, depressing a pedal in a car, or going en pointe while dancing ballet. Plantar flexion also occurs during everyday actions like walking, running, and stretching—anything that requires the foot to flex out and down.

How to use the term plantar flexion

As a technical term, plantar flexion is generally used by health professionals, scientists, and dance educators familiar with anatomy. It is considered a more official and specific term than its vaguer colloquial counterparts, such as “pointing” or “flexing” the foot.

Plantar flexion is often mentioned in connection to foot- or ankle-related injuries, including plantar fasciitis, sprained ankles, or pronation.

More examples of plantar flexion

“[Physical therapist Mandy] Blackmon recommends that dancers stretch their calves as well as pushing their pointe. Having a good range of motion in dorsiflexion (flex) and plantar flexion (pointe) is key to keeping your feet and ankles healthy, and tight calves can restrict movement in your ankle joint.”
—Candice Thompson, Dance Magazine, August 2017

“The exosuit counteracts [limited foot clearance] by retracting the cable attached to the shoe’s tongue, applying a small amount of force to bring the toes up. When the wearer needs to take a step forward, the rear cable contracts to ensure that their foot pushes off the ground, a movement called plantar flexion.”
—Andrew Thurston, BU Today, February 2018


This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

How to use plantar in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for plantar

/ (ˈplæntə) /

of, relating to, or occurring on the sole of the foot or a corresponding partplantar warts

Word Origin for plantar

C18: from Latin plantāris, from planta sole of the foot
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Medical definitions for plantar

[ plăntər, -tär′ ]

Of, relating to, or occurring on the sole.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.