The best mnemonic for tarsals I know is incredibly easy to remember.
That’s because I’ve super-charged it with a few little-known secrets that make all mnemonic devices for memorizing anatomy much more effective.
So if you’ve ever struggled to remember the tarsal bone names using any other mnemonic strategy, you’re in luck.
On this page, we’re taking a deep dive into what actually works for memorizing anatomy.
The best part?
The Magnetic Memory Method approach is easy and fun.
What Are Mnemonic Devices?
Real quick before we get started:
Mnemonic devices are specifically multi-sensory images that help you remember information. They help you reduce the amount of spaced repetition needed to establish information in long-term memory.
For example, if you want to memorize anatomical terms like “tarsal bones” or “metatarsals,” you would think of an image like “tar” covered in “salt.” For “metatarsals” you can imagine the same image in the “metaverse” to remember “metatarsals.”
This visual approach creates an incredible alternative to acronyms for memorizing medical terminology.
Now, by all means, you can use an acronym like many other people teach. Here’s a typical example:
The Cat Never Meows In Leaky Caskets
These words stand for:
- Medial cuneiform
- Intermediate cuneiform
- Lateral cuneiform
The problem with acronyms like this is easy to spot:
How toes “the” help you remember “talus”? How do you get from “never” to “navicular”?
Let’s go beyond acronyms as a mnemonic for the tarsal bones. There’s a much easier and more effective way and it only takes a few minutes to learn.
How to Remember Tarsal Bone Names With Mnemonics
There are actually a few mnemonic devices you can choose from that are far better than acronyms. You don’t have to become a mnemonist to benefit from knowing these different approaches, but more is more.
I suggest reading and experimenting with each approach. You can fluidly switch between them as you memorize more and more information about the body.
One: The Number-Rhyme Mnemonic
Because we’re talking about a simple list, I’m going to first recommend the number-rhyme mnemonic as the most direct technique.
All you have to do is come up with a rhyme for a digit and then connect that rhyme to the tarsal bone you’re memorizing.
Here’s what I mean:
- One is a gun… shooting at an extremely tall US flag (Talus)
- Two is a shoe… crashing down on a calculator made of Coke cans kneeing us (Calcaneus)
- Three is a bee… operating a navigation device sitting in a cooler (Navicular)
- Four is a door… pressing a dial on my chest (medial)
And you just go from there.
Now, these images might not make complete sense to you. But having a dial on my chest gives me the “me” sound. And since imagining a door is completely absurd, the image is inherently memorable.
The more you use the rhymes to help you craft strange associations, the more memorable they’ll be.
If you don’t think you’re creative, or worry that you have aphantasia, give these visualization exercises a try.
Two: The Alphabet Mnemonic
Instead of using rhymes to memorize a numbered list, you can use alphabet mnemonics.
This is essentially a pegword system were you develop an image for each letter of the alphabet. You then mentally attach this letter to the target information in a memorable way.
Here are some examples:
- A is for a very tall apple that is crashing into the US flag (Talus)
- B is for Batman, who is using a calculator made of Coke cans and kneeing it into the US flag (Calcaneus)
- C is for Cookie Monster operating a navigation device, etc…
Can you see the pattern developing here?
All effective mnemonics that help you remember all of the tarsal bones are based on associations.
But there’s one more approach I want to share with you that will make the process even faster.
Three: The Memory Palace
Many successful medical students use the Memory Palace for anatomy.
That’s because this ancient memory technique helps you memorize thousands of words, concepts and procedures.
Simply put, you place the words you need to remember in a mental recreation of a home or other familiar location. In fact, you can even place the entire structure of a foot in a familiar location, such as on your bed:
The reason a Memory Palace is so beneficial is because it provides a reference, kind of like a canvas.
That way, when you apply associations like bees or Batman, you can imagine not only where they are in a familiar location. You can also imagine where they are on the foot, while getting back the correct terminology.
It’s Easy To Memorize The Foot Bones Quickly
So there you have it:
3 powerful alternatives to using an acronym to memorize the tarsals.
And now that you know how to memorize the tarsal bones, how about continuing your journey?
Grab my free memory improvement course:
It will help you use these techniques in even more sophisticated ways. Whether you’re into nursing, need to learn pharmacology , the sacral plexus or just want to know more about the body for trivia night, these are the techniques that will help you the fastest.
So what do you say?
Are you ready to master all the tarsal bones and much, much more?
Enjoy this journey and thank you for being a medical professional who cares about the quality of your memory.