The feet may not get a lot of attention, but they are incredibly functional. And the toes serve most of its purpose. We may not think about why we have toes, but do you know that it’s responsible for providing balance and support when we walk or run? It may not seem as functional as fingers, but toes are pretty much essential as well. Without them, the entire mechanism of foot movement would fall apart. Here are some fun facts about toes that you may not know:
1. The big toe keeps you balanced.
The toes are in touch with the ground for around 75% of the time. When it makes contact with the ground, it signals the body that you are balanced. As you move the feet and leave the floor, the big toe helps you spring off the floor. It’s vital for balance as this toe takes the biggest burden. When the big toe is misaligned, it can really throw your balance off. It’s because the nerve endings in the toes help the feet maintain balance and bear the body’s weight when you walk. So, if we were to lose the big toe, we have to retrain the foot to use other muscles to replace it.
2. Toes have three bones each, except for the big toe.
When you bend your toes, you can observe that each have three bones, and they are called phalanges. But the big toe only has two. The same goes for fingers – each has three except for the thumb.
3. Toes can surgically replace lost thumbs.
If you ever lose your thumb, it can be replaced with the big toe. While this may sound odd, this type of surgery is relatively common and successful. This method was first applied to humans in 1975, and it’s been widely used ever since. The transplanted big toe, which is called a “thoe,” allows the person to regain all the benefits of a lost thumb, like being able to operate doorknobs, grasping a pen and other objects, and eating food.
4. You can’t serve in the army without one toe.
The army’s rule states that they will reject any application for the “current absence of a foot or any portion thereof.” As it turns out, it doesn’t have to be an issue because missing a toe doesn’t cause much damage, except if it’s the big toe that is missing. Doctors are now able to design special shoes for toe amputees that can correct minor step problems.
5. The Egyptians know how to replace toes.
Even though missing a toe won’t cause significant problems, that doesn’t mean that they should not be replaced. Toe prosthetics could date back as far as 3,000 years ago to the Egyptian civilization. Explorers have found a mummy in Egypt with a wood and leather contraption that’s believed to be a prosthetic toe.
6. Toe wrestling is a sport.
If you can arm wrestle or thumb wrestle, why not do toe wrestling? It’s actually a competitive sport! Since 1993, Wetton, Staffordshire in England, has been host to the World Toe Wrestling Championship. It’s even a thriving sport in several countries since 1970. To play, opponents attempt to pin and hold down their opponents’ bare toes for three seconds. Best two out of three rounds wins.
7. Around 0.1% of children in the world are born with extra toes.
About 1 or 2 in 1,000 children are born with at least an extra toe, a condition called polydactylism. The extra toes are usually removed since it can make wearing footwear uncomfortable.
8. The person with the most toes has 19.
KumariNayak, a 63-year-old Indian woman (as of January 2020), has the most toes in any living person in the world. She has 19 toes and 12 fingers in total, beating the previous Guinness Book of World Records holder DevendraSuthar who had 14 toes and 14 fingers.
9. There’s a foot condition where toes overgrow.
Speaking of bizarre foot conditions, one of the rarest is macrodactyly. In this condition, a person can have one or more toes that are extremely enlarged due to the overgrowth of foot bones and tissues. This condition is benign but sure is uncomfortable.
10. The longest toenails are 6 inches long.
Louise Hollis from California currently holds the world record for the longest toenails, each measuring around six inches. She started growing it since 1982. Hollis rarely wears shoes, and when she does, she wears open-toe, of course. And all these toenails are always pedicured, and it even requires a full two days of grooming and care each week.
11. Dancing on the toes can surely hurt.
If you ever tried to dance ballet, you know how painful it can be. Ballerinas are known for their amazing ability to dance on their toes. The technique needs strength, support, and balance for the body to stay upright during the movements. Not surprisingly, ballet carries a great deal of risk with it. Potential injuries can include bunions, tendonitis, hammertoes, stress fractures, and dermatitis.
12. Anna Wintour thinks toes are sexy.
Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief for Vogue, once listed the unwritten dress code of the Voguette to include “toe-cleavage shoes.” She wasn’t the only one to believe in the sexiness of the toe cleavage, as opening the vamp of a shoe was regarded as a chic choice of fashion. Frederick’s of Hollywood, a lingerie retail chain, also believes that showing toes can be sexually suggestive. But you don’t need to show too much – Manolo Blahnik says the secret is only showing the first two cracks.
13. Joseph Stalin’s toes are webbed.
Joseph Stalin had a condition called syndactyly, where toes (or fingers) are webbed or joined. There is no evidence that this condition causes any problems, nor does it improve swimming ability as some have expected. Other famous people with syndactyly are Ashton Kutcher, Dan Aykroyd, Rachel Stevens, and Danielle Panabaker.
14. Jack Lambert’s NFL career ended with a toe injury.
Jack Lambert was one of NFL’s best linebackers after years working with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The legend was a nine-time pro bowler, and he was the key to the team’s defense. But despite his tough demeanor, all it took is a reoccurring turf toe injury to sideline his career. The condition caused him to exit the league in 1984.