Why We Need Toes
We only think about our toes when we need a pedicure or when we accidentally hit our toes on some furniture. But they are way more important for people than they seem.
5-Minute Crafts decided to find out what role toes play in people’s lives.
Structure of toes
Every toe consists of several small bones called phalanges that are connected to each other with joints. The 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th toes have 3 phalanges. Very rarely does the little toe only have 2 phalanges, and the biggest toe always has 2 phalanges.
The toes are connected directly to the bones in the middle part of the foot. The muscles and tendons allow us to bend, and move our toes in different directions but it’s impossible to move them independently because of the location of the soft tissue.
Why we have 5 toes
The ancestors of all modern creatures with 4 legs had 5 fingers on all 4 limbs around 300-400 million years ago. Some creatures could have up to 13 fingers, but evolution only left them with 5. Scientists don’t have a definite answer as to why this number was “chosen.”
Today, the human body is so used to having 5 toes on each foot that losing, for example, the biggest one can impact the way we walk tremendously. Around 40% of the work is done by this toe, so walking without it would slow us down and make it hard for us to keep our balance.
The functions of toes
- Support. The many bones, tendons, nerves, and ligaments in the toes allow us to keep our bodies vertical.
- Balance. Keeping our balance and posture is possible because the toes are connected to the arch of the foot, increasing the overall body stability. When the body is leaned forward, the toes let us push back to restore balance.
- Motion. When walking, toes allow us to stabilize the foot because the area that is in touch with the ground is bigger. The toes and the pads on them help us push off from the ground to take a step.
- Acceleration. Thanks to the push, we can take big steps. This allows for the calf muscle to be slower but more effective. This creates acceleration and we can run faster.
- Sense of touch. When walking barefoot, we can feel the things under our feet — soft grass, Lego parts, or carpet.