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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Why We Need Toes

   Think toes aren't all that important? Think again. Even though we can't use them to grab stuff like chimpanzees can, our toes serve a few important purposes.
     We owe our balance to the 26 bones that make up the hindfoot, midfoot and forefoot. The forefoot contains the toes. The big toe has two major bones and the rest have three little bones. The toes connect to the midfoot by five long bones called metatarsals, one for each toe. The hindfoot connects to the midfoot by cuneiform and cuboid bones. These are connected to the ankle bone. 
     For example, toes provide balance and support when we walk because the toes maintain contact the ground about 75 percent of the time and help your feet to bear the body weight when you walk. 
     They play an even more important role in running. When you use your whole foot while running, toes increase the overall length of the foot, allowing you to run faster.
     Of all your toes, your big toes are the most important. They play the most critical role in maintaining your balance. They also bear the most weight when standing. Your big toes can bear almost twice as much weight as the other toes combined. 
     The least important of your toes are the pinky toes because they bear the least weight and have the least impact on maintaining balance. People born without pinky toes or those who lose one in an accident will see very little change. Even though the pinky toe itself has no functional value if you remove the metatarsal it would make running and walking nearly impossible. 
     Toes play an important part in increasing the weight-bearing area during walking. When your weight is on the ball of your foot during a step, the force is transferred to the toes. If we didn’t have toes the center of force would stay under the ball because that’s where your foot would end. But by rolling onto our toes, it's like lengthening the arm of a lever. Now the calf muscles can contract at a slower, more effective rate but tilt the end of your foot at a higher speed.

     With age and the number of steps taken per minute decreases. A mature gait pattern is well established by about 3 years of age and the gait of a seven-year-old child resembles that of an adult. The normal adult gait cycle involves heel strike, stance and then toe-off. The stance phase is the foot in contact with the ground and the swing phase is the foot off the ground.

11 most common reasons old people shuffle when they walk 
-Weak hips and leg muscles 
-Arthritis pain in joints 
-Loss of flexibility in feet making it hard to flex them normally 
-Decreased ability to maintain balance 
-Decreased vision making it hard to see 
-Fear because of a recent stumble or fall 
-Slow reaction time when unbalanced which increases fear of falling 
-Medication side effects 
-Worn or poorly-fitting shoes or slippers 
-Slippery floors 
-Serious medical conditions, like Parkinson’s or dementia, could also cause the elderly to shuffle or walk unsteadily.

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