People tend to overlook their feet.
It’s not hard to, of course. Most of the time they’re beneath you, though don’t take that metaphorically. Your feet are remarkable feats of biological engineering. They allow both the possibility of 300-pound men in size 7 shoes and women precariously perched upon 0.34 square inches of high heel.
Over an average lifetime, an average pair of feet will walk roughly 100,000 miles. So take a load off them for a moment and appreciate these 12 things you ought to know about those things you stand on.
- One-quarter of the bones in your body are in your feet. Each foot is comprised of 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles and tendons.
- Each foot has approximately 125,000 sweat glands. The soles contain more glands per square centimeter than any other part of the body. They produce approximately half a pint of perspiration daily.
- In the first year of life, a child’s feet grow half a size every two months. Between ages three and six, children’s feet grow roughly 1 millimeter (mm) per month. By age 12, a child’s feet are 90 percent of adult size. Feet stop growing a few years after adolescence, but continue to widen and lengthen throughout life as pads flatten out, bones shift and expand and tendons loosen.
- It’s rare for a person to have two equally sized feet; one is almost always larger.
- Fingernails grow two to three times faster than toenails: 3.5 mm per month versus 1.6 mm. If you lose a fingernail, it will regrow completely in four to six months; a toenail will take a year or more to do the same.
- Twenty to 30 percent of the world’s population has Morton’s Toe, a condition in which the second toe is longer than the big toe. Also called “Greek foot,” “royal toe” and “turkey toe.” Medically, it’s a form of brachymetatarsia.
- Foot problems affect nearly six in 10 people at one time or another in their lives. Women experience approximately four times more foot problems than men, mainly due to their footwear.
- American feet are getting bigger (along with the rest of us). The best-selling size shoe for women is now 8 ½; for men 10 ½. That’s a full size larger than 30 years ago.
- Feet are among the most ticklish parts of the body because they contain nearly 8,000 nerves, with a larger percentage near the skin surface.
- Our predecessors used their big toes for grasping. These days, the big toe is sometimes used as a replacement limb in toe-to-thumb transplants.
- The force of your foot hitting the ground is between four and seven times body weight. In a typical day, feet endure a cumulative force of several hundred tons.
- It’s a fallacy that we’re losing our pinky toes, which some have deemed to be evolutionary holdovers no longer needed. The small toe, despite its diminutive size, helps us keep our balance and diffuses impact throughout the foot when we run.