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Ten Fun Foot Care Facts

Our feet are often under-appreciated until we have issues so it behooves us to take good care of them.  They are the integral part of what makes us bipeds or the modern human beings we are today. Here are some interesting and perhaps unusual facts on the human foot.

10 Fun Foot Facts:

1)     The bones in our feet make up about ¼ of the bones in our body:  The average adult human body has 206 bones.  52 of these are in our feet—26 in each foot, WOWZA!  When we are born our foot bones are mostly cartilage.  They only completely harden around age 21.

2)     Humans have worn shoes for a very long time:  Humans only started wearing shoes about 40, 000 years ago.  Older humans had thicker, stronger toes probably from gripping the ground as they walked barefoot.  Historically records of early footwear are around the same time as the advent of stone tools and other artistic and technological advancements.  Incidentally, the oldest preserved shoe is about 5500 years old.  It was found in an Armenian cave buried in sheep dung.

3)     Your big toe is kind of a “foot thumb”:  The “big” toe was used by early humans to grasp small tree limbs as our predecessors climbed trees.  Big toes were also useful for babies to grip onto their mothers similar to how baby monkeys cling to their mothers.  A more modern and perhaps unusual use for the big toe is as a thumb transplant.  Thanks to modern science, if you lose your thumb surgeons can now replace it with a “big” toe. Toe-to-thumb transplants are surprisingly common nowadays.

4)     There was a foot cheese exhibition in Ireland:  Who knew the same bacteria that naturally occurs on your feet can be used to make cheese?  In 2013 a very weird and gross exhibition was held in Dublin, Ireland that displayed a variety of cheeses made from bacteria samples taken from real people’s feet, armpits and belly buttons.  Thankfully, no one actually ate any of the cheeses.

5)     Feet are the most ticklish part of the human body:  There is good reason for this fun fact.   Humans have nearly 8000 nerves in their feet and a large number of nerve endings near the skin’s surface.  Ticklish feet can be a good thing:  reduced sensitivity or protective sensation can be an indicator of peripheral neuropathy (numbness in the feet caused by nerve damage).

6)     Foot numbness can be a big problem for Diabetics:  Some complications of Diabetes include poor circulation, reduced protective sensation and numbness that can lead to serious foot ulcers which sometimes require amputation.  A study in 2010 showed that 73,000 lower limb amputations were performed on Diabetics in the U.S.

7)     Foot sizes and widths in the U.S., UK and Canada are increasing:   Feet are spreading out to support extra weight as our populations pack on the pounds.  According to a study by the College of Podiatry in the UK circa 2014, the average adult foot has increased by 2 sizes since the 1970s.  As people grow taller and heavier the feet respond by growing larger.  Retailers are starting to carry larger and wider widths of shoes to accommodate for the ever-expanding human foot.  Interestingly, nearly half of women and a third of men report they but poor fitting footwear. 

8)     Women have four times as many foot problems as men:  The painful fact is often attributed to wearing high heels.  Ironically, Western women started wearing heels to effect a more masculine look:  European men adopted the look from Persian warriors in the 17th century, and women soon followed suit.  Foot experts agree that poor fitting footwear are to blame for a significant portion of foot problems.

9)     The average person walks about 100,000 miles or approximately 160, 934 kilometers in their lifetime:  That’s a lot of stress and wear and tear on our feet!  It’s not surprising then that lower back pain, headaches, indigestion and spinal problems are often related to foot problems.  This makes a good case for routine foot care and proper supportive footwear.  A good foot specialist can help you care for your feet and guide you in making good footwear choices.

10)  There’s a reason Grandpa’s toes look like that:  As we get older our toenails tend to thicken making them difficult to care for.  This can happen for a host of different reasons.  Toenails grow slower as we age causing nail cells to accumulate.  Stubbing toes, bad shoes, dropping things on your feet can also cause the nail to grow thicker, sometimes permanently.  Fungal nail infections and peripheral artery disease which narrows the arteries and reduces blood flow to the limbs can also be factors for developing thick nails.  See a foot specialist to help you care for your thick nails if they are problematic for you to cut.  You may also have an undiagnosed fungal nail problem that needs medical attention.

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