The feet are the most underappreciated yet overworked part of the body. The hands have it easy compared to the feet, as the feet are often enclosed for hours on end and are required to carry all our body weight. The feet are a humble part of the body, but it’s perfectly designed to allow us to walk upright. Here are some fascinating, unusual facts about the human feet:
1. The bones in the foot make up a quarter of all the bones in the body.
Each foot contains 26 bones, 33 joints, 19 muscles, and 107 ligaments. Some people have 28 bones in each foot, and people born with extra toes have even more. When combined, both feet have more than one-quarter of the body’s total bones.
2. The Achilles tendon is the strongest tendon in the body.
The Achilles tendon connects the muscles in the lower leg with the heel bone. It plays a vital role in allowing us to walk and run, so it definitely needs to be strong.
3. Humans have been wearing shoes for a long time.
In case you’re wondering when humans began wearing shoes, here’s a trivia for you. According to research from Washington University in St. Louis, humans were wearing a kind of footwear about 40,000 years ago after analyzing foot bones from Neanderthals and early humans. This was around the same time the archaeological records show a burst of technological advancements among early humans, including the first stone tools, which may have helped in the production of shoes. Older human specimens had thicker toes, most likely from gripping the ground as they walked barefoot. The oldest preserved shoe, which was found in an Armenian cave, is about 5,500 years old.
4. The feet are one of the most ticklish parts of the body.
Humans have around 8,000 nerves in the feet and a large number of nerve endings around the skin, making it one of the most ticklish parts of the body. Having ticklish feet can be a good sign since reduced sensitivity can indicate numbness in the feet caused by nerve damage.
5. Foot sizes in the USA are increasing.
American bodies are getting bigger through the years, and the feet are also spreading to support that extra weight. According to the National Shoe Retailers Association, the best-selling shoe size in the 1980s for women was 7 ½, but now it’s 8 ½. For men, the average size used to be 9 ½, but now it’s 10 ½. They are both up a full size.
6. Women are more likely to have foot problems compared to men.
In particular, women are four times more likely to have foot problems compared to men. This painful fact is primarily attributed to wearing heels. Ironically, Western women started wearing heels in the 17th century to look more masculine. European men got the look from Persian warriors.
7. An average person walks at least 100,000 miles in a lifetime.
That much distance puts a lot of stress on our feet. It’s not surprising that headaches, lower back pain, spine misalignment, and even indigestion are related to foot problems. But for runners, the 100,000 miles are logged in running miles alone. One committed runner, a Texan doctor, named Herb Fred, has logged in 247,142 miles of running in his lifetime.
8. Shoe sizes were initially measured in barleycorns.
Before the traditional shoe sizing we have today, shoe sizes were measured in barleycorns in the 14th century United Kingdom. It’s based on the length of a grain of barley. For every shoe size, they add a third of an inch, corresponding to the fact that there are three barleycorns per inch.
9. There are 250,000 seat glands in a pair of feet.
These many sweat glands can produce as much as half a pint of sweat in a single day! That’s one of the main reasons why feet can get stinky. But while the sweat itself doesn’t smell so bad, the socks and shoes can trap odor-causing bacteria that can thrive in dark and damp environments.
10. There’s a Guinness World Record for the most feet sniffed.
Think your job sucks? Think again. There’s a woman named Madeline Albrecht, who worked for an Ohio lab for 15 years, and sniffing feet and armpits is part of her job to test Dr. Scholl’s products. In her time working there, she sniffed more than 5,600 feet and some untold numbers of armpits. She currently holds the Guinness World Record for the most number of feet, and armpits sniffed.
11. Foot size has nothing to do with penis size.
There’s a myth about men’s shoe size: the larger the shoe (and therefore the foot), the larger the size of the penis. A few different studies have debunked that idea. In a study published in 2015, researchers synthesized data from 17 previous studies that included foot and penis measurements of more than 15,000 men all over the world. The results reveal that there is no correlation between the sizes, so the saying must be “big feet, big shoes.”
12. Morton’s toe affects 20-30% of the world’s population.
Morton’s toe is a condition where the second toe is longer than the big toe. It’s not that unusual as it affects about 20-30% of the world’s population.
13. About 80% of American adults have reported experiencing a foot ailment.
Foot ailments are common, and people are likely to develop at least one in their lifetime. The most commonly reported ailments include ankle sprain and strains, blisters, foot fatigue, calluses, cracked skin, plantar fasciitis , foot cramps , pain in the heels of the feet, cracked skin, and athlete’s foot.
14. The feet can be used for flirting.
The feet can indicate whether you’re attracted to someone or not. When a woman is attracted to a man, she is likely to move her feet away from the body to make a more open stance. Meanwhile, men tend to move their feet more when they are nervous.
15. Standing is more tiring than walking.
If you were to choose what you would rather do: stand or walk, choose to walk. Why? Standing still in one position is more tiring since it uses only a few muscles. Meanwhile, walking distributes the effort and weight over more muscles.
16. Foot functions best in its bare state.
The natural shape of the foot is when the heel and forefoot are level. It allows the toes to extend, flex freely, and spread. The heel that elevates the shoes constrict the movement of the toes. A 2 ½ inch already increases the load on the forefoot by 75%.
For babies, the whole foot touches the floor, making it appear flat and chubby. They have a pad of fat where an arch would normally be seen in an adult foot. It’s because their foot bones, ligaments, and tendons haven’t formed arches yet.