Foot health

19 April 2011

13 foot facts

Feet are complicated things, and considering how many things could go wrong with them, they generally serve us well. Check out these interesting foot facts.


Feet generally get taken for granted – that is, until something goes wrong with them. Nothing incapacitates you as much as a broken or badly infected foot. Think about it, even with a broken arm, you still remain mobile, and able to do most things.

Feet get us around – we use them for running, walking and jumping. And yet, most people know very little about what actually goes on inside the foot. But feet are complicated things, and considering how many things could go wrong with them, they generally serve us well.

Read more about possible foot problems you may experience.

Here are some interesting facts about feet – how many of them did you know?

  • Most people have 26 bones in each foot, but some people have 28. These extras, called supernumerary sesamoids, are found on the bottom of the foot just behind the big toe.
  • Fourteen of the 26 bones are found in the toes. Each toe has three bones, except the big toe, which has two.
  • The soles of your feet contain more sweat glands and sensitive nerve-endings per square centimetre than any other part of your body.
  • Flat feet are not always problematic – if flat feet are well-aligned, they enable a person to stand for longer periods of time, as the weight is distributed over a larger area.
  • Lower backache, headaches, indigestion and a misaligned spine can often be traced to problems with your feet.
  • The gait pattern of your right foot does not usually match that of your left.
  • When you are walking normally, the whole foot is never flat on the ground.
  • If your feet are well-aligned, your toes will point straight ahead when you are walking. The first point of contact is your heel, then the outside border of your foot, then the ball of your foot, and finally the big toe.
  • Standing in one spot is far more tiring than walking. The reason for this is that demands are being made on the same few muscles for a length of time.
  • Corns and calluses are never normal, but they are the most common foot problems. They indicate that you could benefit from foot alignment or from better choice of shoes. The next most common foot problems are warts, blisters, athlete's foot and fissures.
  • The skin on your feet is thicker than it is anywhere else on your body.
  • When you are stressed, you are more susceptible to the virus that causes warts on the foot.
  • When buying shoes, it is always a good idea to buy them late in the day, when your feet are tired and may be slightly swollen. In this way you are unlikely to buy shoes that are too small.

FAQ on feet

(Source: The People's Almanac. Editors David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace.)

(Susan Erasmus, Health24, updated April 2011)


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