TechLittle toe's big impact, overlooked evolution vestige crucial in balance and mobility

Little toe's big impact, overlooked evolution vestige crucial in balance and mobility

The little toe plays an important role.
The little toe plays an important role.
Images source: © Adobe Stock

7:56 PM EST, January 15, 2024

In the past, the smallest toes on our feet played an essential role in climbing trees, among other things. They worked to help us secure ourselves to various surfaces. Over the course of evolution, their function has changed, but they remain extremely crucial - as reported by IFL Science, citing the materials published in How Stuff Works.

The importance of small toes tends to be underestimated

If you have ever damaged your small toe, you understand the significant impact such an injury can have on your daily functioning. Commonly known as the pinky toe in English, this small digit is important for two primary reasons.

"The little toe's function is to provide balance and propulsion," – declares Dr. Bruce Pinker, a podiatrist from Progressive Foot Care in New York. He explains that the foot naturally rolls from the lateral to the medial part during movement, allowing for efficient walking strides.

Injuries to the fifth toe can result in movement difficulties. In severe cases where the little toe needs amputation, it could cause falls due to a loss of balance. Scientists maintain that the pinky toe is a crucial part of the "tripod" that maintains balance.

The aforementioned tripod consists of the heel and the bones of the little and big toes. These three elements ensure stability and allow for tasks such as running, jumping, and particularly walking. An injury or loss of any of these three could lead to a disruption in our movement mechanism.

Taking good care of your toes is essential

Considering the vital role that little toes play for a human, it is necessary to make every effort to take care of these small bone structures, particularly in choosing the proper footwear.

In trendy footwear designs, the little toe can rub against the shoe's interior until a bursa develops. This is a fluid-filled sack that forms between the skin and the bone, a condition known as bursitis, which can be painful - warns podiatrist Dr. Mark Hinkes.

By "trendy footwear," we mean shoes with narrow fronts. The tapered and pointed ends of shoes can result in a condition known as hammer toe — an issue caused by the compression of the toe in overly tight shoes. Hence, if wearing heels causes you discomfort, it might be best to avoid them. Opt for shoes that provide sufficient space for all your toes.

Health professionals stress the need to consult with a specialist at the first sign of a toe injury. Inadequately treated fractures can lead to painful complications. Given the importance of small toes, it's crucial to take good care of them and ensure daily comfortable mobility.

Related content