Know Your Body: Feet

If your dogs are barking after just running back and forth to the kitchen during the marathon, take a look at what’s going on down there.

14 feet red

Feet have a reputation for smelling, but in reality they do so much more. Sit down, feet together, take note.

Foot in the Door
Our feet might not be the prettiest parts of our anatomy—apologies, podophiliacs (i.e., foot fans)—but they’re extremely complex and hard-working contraptions. They also reflect our general health, as any abnormalities or pain therein can often signal more serious health conditions. Inside each foot there are 26 bones (nearly a quarter of the whole body’s), 33 joints, 19 muscles, 10 tendons (including the Achilles tendon, the strongest tendon in the body), 107 ligaments and 250,000 sweat glands capable of producing half a pint of sweat per day. Don’t you think those things deserve some nicer socks?

Best Foot Forward
Our feet are natural shock absorbers, and they need to be: Each foot takes 1.5 times your body weight when you’re walking, and up to five times your weight when running. Over the course of a normal day, they take a cumulative force of a couple of hundred tonnes and usually endure 8,000 to 10,000 steps per day. That’s 110,000 miles of walking—the equivalent of trekking almost four and a half times around the Earth!—in the average person’s lifetime.

Putting a Foot Wrong
Your Big Toe, or “hallux,” to give it its more scientific name, was probably used by our primitive ancestors as some sort of “foot thumb” to help them grip their mothers as babies, or climb trees as adults. In fact, big toe-to-thumb—or hallux to pollux—transplants are actually a common procedure in modern medicine. GPs rarely do anything about “Morton’s toe,” though, a condition in which your second toe is longer than your big toe. Should this aesthetically jarring condition affect you, don’t worry—it affects 20 to 30 percent of the world’s entire population, so your elongated piggy is far from alone.