Do you need Toes to Walk?

What are Toes and their Anatomy? What are your Toe names? What is their function and do you need them to walk? Can you walk if your Toe gets amputated, and What are the possible reasons for amputation? What are other problems that your Toes suffer?
do you need toes to walk
Photo by Gabby Orcutt on Unsplash

Humans have various body parts that are essential for their survival. We are among those few animals that can walk on two legs. But I was wondering do you need toes to walk? If yes, then how many toes do you need to walk, and do you need your big toe to walk? What if someone had to get their toes amputated? Well, I guess not everyone knows the answers. So, today along with this you will also get to know the answers to can you walk if you have your toes amputated.

1. What are Toes?

Toes are referred to as the fingers of animals and humans. Since humans walk on the sole of their feet, they are categorized as plantigrade. Humans have 5 toes on each foot. (See When and How do Body Systems Work together?)

2. What is the Anatomy of your Toes?

Each toe has 3 phalanges bones, namely distal, middle, and proximal. The big toe and sometimes the smallest toe does not have the middle bone. The big toe, also known as hallux, contains only two phalanx bones, namely distal and proximal. The phalanx bones are joined with the metatarsals of the foot at the metatarsophalangeal joint. (See Number of Bones in Human Body Male vs Female)

3. What are the names of the Toes?

do you need toes to walk 1
Photo by Tucker Good on Unsplash

We will begin with your big toe and then go towards the smallest, here is the list of the names of your toes.

  • Big toe or hallux: It is also known as the first toe, great toe, or the thumb toe.
  • The second toe: It is known as the pointer toe or index toe.
  • The third toe: You can call it the middle toe.
  • The fourth toe: It is named as fore toe. 
  • The fifth toe: It is the outermost toe, and you can call it the pinky toe, small toe, baby toe, or the little toe. (See What Are Physical Attributes?)

4. What is the function of your Toes?

Trying to figure out, do you need toes to walk? Your toes are an essential part of your foot because it helps them in bearing your weight. The multiple bones and soft tissues present in the toes help in keeping you upright, walking, thrusting during gait (a pattern of movement of the limbs while walking), and balance.

5. Do you need Toes to walk?

Precisely speaking, yes, you need your toes to walk properly. You have been running, walking, skating, and doing all sorts of things perfectly because you have toes to help and support you in maintaining your balance. You remember when you hit your toe on the wall, how painful it was, and you were limping for some time also. You even find it hard to do normal tasks if you have an injured toe. Also, check out what are swinging hands exercise benefits?

6. How many Toes do you need to Walk?

Earlier, according to the medical standards in the Department of Defense, if a person is missing a toe he or she would be disqualified from the army. This is because such a person would not be able to escape an enemy or walk in the rice paddies. But if we consider the point of view of surgeons and doctors, there is nothing like this. A person without a toe will slowly learn to walk and run even without a toe. So, the answer to how many toes do you need to walk is not fixed but it will be better if you have all of them in a healthy condition. (See 15 Pressure Points To Relieve Body Discomforts)

7. Do you need your Big Toe to walk?

A grayscale picture of a ballerina's feet in toe standing position : do you need toes to walk 2
Photo by Luwadlin Bosman on Unsplash

Your big toe plays an important function by providing balance as you walk or run. It also acts as a shock absorber due to the presence of the sesamoid bones (small bones similar to patella that are formed as a result of some injury or otherwise) in the big toe. So, do you need toes to walk? Remember without the big toe your foot will have limited shock absorption and stabilization during the take-off phase or the mid-stance. However, this capability will reduce to almost nil as the person ages. (See Why you Can’t get Fully Hard?)

8. Why do you need your Big Toe to walk?

Scientists consider big toes as an important factor in walking. The reason behind its importance is mentioned here.

  • Two sesamoid bones are fixed to the tendons that surround the big toe. Their function is to slide around as you change the position of your big toes.
  • Your big toe provides stability when you are at rest. The sesamoid bones slide into the grooves.
  • When you are standing in a misaligned position for longer periods, these sesamoid bones slide towards the inside of your big toes. (See What Is the Funny Bone Nerve?)

9. Can you walk normally if you lose your Big Toe?

Though you will lose some balance and strength, you will be able to walk. According to aesthetic experts, a person can walk fine if they have an appropriate set of shoes with proper toe fillers and inserts. They might or might not prescribe prosthetic toes, depending on the condition and need of the patient. (See What is Biomedical Engineering?)

10. Can you walk if you have your Toes Amputated?

Amputating a toe is not a major surgery, and it may take up to 2 to 3 months (60 to 90 days) to heal completely. But during the recovery period, any sort of physical activity is restricted. Further, if you are asking, do you need toes to walk and can you walk if you have your toes amputated, then yes and you should not feel upset that you have to learn to balance yourself and thrust your body forward without the toe or toes. After the recovery process, you can opt for shoes with toe fillers that will make your work easier. (See Why do we have Eyebrows and Eyelashes?)

11. What are the possible reasons leading to Toe Amputation?

representation of a human's foot: do you need toes to walk 3
Photo by Nino Liverani on Unsplash

Your toe is a part of the very sensitive body part that is your feet. They are filled with almost 8000 nerve endings which makes them the most sensitive part of your body. Therefore, the chance of getting severe problems in such a sensitive area is more.

  • Injury or trauma is the common reason for amputation.
  • Conditions like diabetes, frostbite, and vascular diseases reduce the blood supply to the toes which leads to possible amputation.
  • Infections are another major reason for amputation if antibiotics or other medicines are not working. (See What Causes Funny Bone Pain?)

12. What are some other Toe Problems?

So, before you find out do you need toes to walk or not, take a look. Despite the injuries and infection, there are some other problems that your poor toe can suffer.

  • Bunions: It occurs when your toe joints are pushed out of their alignment as a result of a miss-fitting shoe
  • Corns: It occurs when the skin on the top of your toe thickens as a result of the pressure exerted on the toes by the continuous rubbing against the shoe top.
  • Dislocation: When the toe joints are separated at the joint or moved from their usual positions.
  • Fractures (broken bones) and Sprains: These can happen due to various reasons like a sudden fall or an accident. A sprain occurs when you pressurize your toe and the ligaments are torn.
  • Ingrown toenails: It happens when your toenails start growing inside the skin right next to them. It can cause redness and itching, also bleeding. 

So, now you know do you need toes to walk, along with how many toes do you need to walk. You can share this information about can you walk if you have your toes amputated and do you need your big toe to walk. It may help someone to figure out the right decision. (See Why is my Cat Stretching so much?)

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