Going out on a limb here (pun intended)...I'm writing a paper in which I need to refer to various sections of the human leg from upper thigh to knee to calf and ankle. However, "calf" covers a fairly large area. Without having to go into specific leg muscle identification (semitendinosus, biceps femoris, etc.) which could be confusing as they overlap and can be found with Google.

Is there a (standard) anatomical way to describe (cylindrical) sections of the leg from top to bottom?


The lower leg is anatomically called the crus1 and you can refer to the area above the knee as the thigh.

  • Sural refers to the calf region of the crus, while Peroneal refers to the side of the leg2.

  • The front (anterior) side of the crus is called the shin.

Patellar and Popliteal refer to areas associated with the front and back of the knee, respectively2.

You can see a summary of regional leg and other body terms here. (Below is a chart from the site):

enter image description here

Alternatively, you can refer to the regions of the leg using relative anatomical directional terms:

enter image description here

Sources: 1. Wikipedia; 2. Rutgers

  • $\begingroup$ There's also "proximal, distal, medial, and lateral" for relative positions. $\endgroup$ – fredsbend Oct 31 '18 at 18:53
  • $\begingroup$ @fredsbend I was just giving some examples in my post, but you're certainly right. Thanks. $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist Nov 1 '18 at 1:00

Yes, there are ways to refer specifically to regions of the lower limb.

  • Lower limb: everything from the hip to the toes. "Leg" has a different, specific meaning. Lower limb includes all the sections below.
  • Hip: the area comprising the proximal femur and attachments to the pelvis.
  • Thigh: Femur and associated musculature from the hip to the knee.
  • Leg: From the knee to the ankle. "Calf" is often used colloquially to refer to the posterior leg.
  • Foot: Ankle to the digits

From your description, you would use thigh and leg. "Leg" (in the usual vernacular sense) is not correctly used to describe the entire lower limb.

This is drawn from 20 years of anatomy teaching. A reference with more references is here.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.