The Incredible Biology of Your Feet
Feet are mostly known as stinky and achy, but they are so much more than that; they are incredible structures that keep you moving and can even tell you a little bit about the health of your whole body.
- Feet are incredibly complex structures with 52 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles, and are responsible for carrying the weight of the body throughout a person’s lifetime.
- Feet can provide important clues about a person’s overall health, and diseases that affect the whole body often show their first signs in the feet.
- Understanding the anatomy of the foot is important for maintaining good foot health, and finding well-fitting shoes and building strength in the muscles of the feet and legs can help prevent foot problems and pain.
Your feet are incredibly designed machines. There are 52 bones in human feet (that is roughly 25% of the total bones in your whole body). Each foot also contains 33 joints, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles. During the course of a lifetime, it is estimated that the average human walks the equivalent of 4 journeys around the world.
With each step, the pressure on our feet can be up to 4 times our body weight.”
In addition to taking us where we want to go, feet also can tell you important information about your health. If you have spoon-shaped toenails, you might be anemic. If you have pitted toenails, you might have psoriasis. Diseases that affect a person’s whole body, like diabetes and circulatory problems, often show their first signs in the feet.
For a structure that is so integral to our health and wellness, it is amazing that people do not know more about their feet. The biology of the foot is complex, but most of us can gain enough of an understanding of the anatomy of our feet that we can be sure to keep them in good health. The vast majority of foot problems and foot pain are not problems that people are born with, but rather they are problems that are brought on from ill-fitting shoes and poor foot care.
So let’s start with the outside of the foot. The skin on the sole of your foot is different than the vast majority of the skin on the rest of your body. You have no doubt noticed that the skin on your palms and the skin on the soles of your feet do not have hair. It is also much thicker than your other skin, has patterns of ridges, and wrinkles up like a prune when you are in water too long. The differences in the skin on the soles of your feet serve to make your soles stronger and less prone to ripping and to give you traction.
The muscles in your foot can be placed into two main groups: muscles that start in the leg and go to the foot, and muscles that start in the foot. Due to the incredible number of muscles in your foot, it is not practical for the average person to know where each muscle starts and stops, but it is important for the average person to understand that our lower legs and feet and connected. If you are experiencing cramps or muscle problems in your feet, be sure that you are also paying attention to your calves and lower legs.
There are three main groups of bones in the foot:
- The front group has the bones that make up your five toes (called the phalanges, there are 3 of them in your 4 small toes, and 2 of them in your big toe–making 14 in total) and the five longer bones just below your toes (called the metatarsals).
- The middle group of bones is the area where you find the arch of the foot and the bones there are sort of shaped like a pyramid. There are cuneiform bones, the cuboid bone, and the navicular bone. These bones are all irregularly shaped so that they can act as a cushion.
- The bones at the back of your foot are the talus bone (which is connected to the leg bones to make the ankle) and the calcaneus bone (which is the heel). The calcaneus bone is the largest bone in the foot.
In anatomy, pronation is a rotational movement. It happens in the forearm and the foot. In the foot, pronation refers to how your body rotates your foot to distribute your weight as you walk. There are three main types of pronation:
- Neutral Pronation: Someone who neutrally pronates, after touching the ground with their heel, rolls their weight over the midline of the foot. Typically their knees will also stay right over the middle of their foot. Neutral pronation is considered the most desirable kind of pronation.
- Overpronation: Someone who overpronates, after touching the ground with their heel, rolls their weight too far toward the inside of their foot. This type of pronation can make your knees, hips, and ankles also overpronate.
- Underpronation: Someone who under pronates, after touching the ground with their heel, rolls their weight too far toward the outside of their foot. As, with overpronation, this type of pronation can affect your knees, hips, and ankles.
Optimize foot health with our curated list of the top 10 best shoes for plantar fasciitis, designed to provide your feet with the support they need for a pain-free and active lifestyle.
KURU for Foot Health
There is some debate as to whether or not you can change the pronation of your feet. Current thinking is that the best thing for your feet is to find athletic shoes that fit well (like KURUs with their KURUSOLE™ technology) and then adjust your workout to make sure that the muscles in your legs and feet are all strong, as pronation problems are thought to be caused anatomy but exacerbated by weak muscles.
No matter which activity you are wanting to do in your life, KURU has a shoe for you that will give you the support, comfort and style that your feet have been craving.
At KURU, we’re on a mission to help you Heel Better™ with footwear technology designed to relieve foot pain, so you can live a life you love. Since launching our innovative technology in 2008, we’ve received more than 29,000 five-star reviews from thousands of customers who tell us their KURU shoes helped them with conditions (such as plantar fasciitis) and got them back to doing what they love. Explore our guide to the best shoes for plantar fasciitis to find a pair that fits your needs.
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