Toes Serve Way More Purposes than You Think
You might wonder do we need our toes at all. Although humans cannot use them to clinging to trees or picking fruits, like monkeys, our toes are very practical. They help us in many ways, even without us realizing it.
We Can’t Walk Without Toes
Did you know toes give our bodies the support and balance needed to walk? While walking, toes stay in contact with the land for more than 75 percent of the times. The way toes keep exerting pressure is similar to that of our metatarsal foot bones, integral to bodily movement.
Our Toes Literally Carry Us
The toes help our feet in bearing our body weights while we are walking. They have a very significant role while running. When the entire foot is used for running, the toes increase our foot’s complete length very effectively. It aids in running faster.
The Big Toes are the Boss
Out of the ten toes, it is the big ones that hold the most importance. They have a very critical part of maintaining our balance. The big toes also bear most of the weight while we are standing. These can bear close to twice as much the body weight as the other toes together.
Pinky Toes are Not That Important
Apart from hitting furniture and injuring us, the pinky toes do not serve much of a purpose. Due to the size, these toes can hold the least amount of weight and have the most minor role in maintaining balance. Those born with no pinky toes or who lose them in accidents find little to no changes in their feet’ functioning. (See Why do Cats always land on their feet?)
Size Does Matter
A study was conducted in 2009 to experiment with the lengthening of toes to understand how it would affect bodily movement. It showed that if our toes are increased even slightly in length, we would need a lot more energy to run. A mere 20 percent increase led to the doubling of the total amount of force that was generated.
The second study in the same year found that more force comes with its own weaknesses and strengths. After studying the lengths of toes of sprinters, the study concluded that the toes of sprinters, on average, are much longer than those of non-sprinters. Longer toes aid in generating more force, hence, propelling a sprinter faster. However, this is for a very short period of time as longer toes use up a lot more energy than the short ones.
The Perks of Having Short Toes
As you can see, short toes are the best for walking and running for longer distances. A 2010 paper stated that we humans are incredibly efficient to cover long distances just because of the manner in which our feet function. This includes our toes as well. Our feet use a tiny amount of energy for movement and the way we make our toes work is actually what makes us humans.