From toe to heel: The fascinating anatomy of the foot


When we get to know someone new, their feet are probably one of the things we pay the least attention to. The construction of a human skeleton, however, is a different matter: Just under a quarter of the 206 bones that make up our body are found in our feet. There are 26 bones per foot, plus 33 joints, 20 muscles and 114 ligaments. This makes the feet one of the most complex parts of the body, together with the hands. The structure of the foot is very similar to that of the hand. From a purely anatomical point of view, we could control each toe and each finger individually and use them to grasp things. However, in the course of evolution and with the straightening up of the body, the feet have adapted to their new function: The grasping function has become the support function that promotes upright walking.


10 facts on the subject of the foot

Just under 25% of all bones... the human body are to be found in the foot alone. Both feet together are made up of 52 bones, there are a total of 206 bones in our adult body.
On an average day we evaporate ...
...up to 250 ml of foot perspiration from about 500 perspiratory glands per square centimetre – without doing any sporting activity.
We are ticklish on our feet,...
...because a particularly large number of nerve tracts lead from them to the brain. Around 70,000 nerve endings are located there.
70% suffer from a malposition of the foot...
...such as skew feet, splayed feet, flat feet or fallen arches.
Shoe size 69... currently the world record for the largest feet in the world. Unfortunately, there is a sad background to this fact: Due to the rare acromegaly disease, the feet of Venezuelan Jeison Rodriguez are growing inexorably.
Our Achilles tendon can withstand...
...up to 1 tonne in weight. This corresponds approximately to the weight of a small car.
45% suffer...
...from complaints to their musculoskeletal system, a large part of which is probably due to the feet.
25% of days of incapacity for work...
...can be attributed to musculoskeletal disorders – which are often favoured by malpositions of the foot.
The top layer of the skin,...
...the epidermis, is usually just under 0.1 millimetres thick. However, on the feet, it can reach a thickness of up to 0.5 millimetres.
Our feet...
...mirror our health. They can indicate internal diseases and, thanks to their many pressure points and reflex zones, can even control organs.


The foot is divided into three sections: the tarsus, the metatarsus and the toes. The tarsus connects the metatarsus to the lower leg and consists of seven bones, including the talus and the calcaneus. The metatarsus consists of five palpable metatarsal bones that are connected to the big toe. The toes, in turn, consist of tubular bones with two to three phalanges and are similar to the fingers, but less mobile. Many people believe that the toes, as individual phalanges, perform the function of maintaining balance. However, a bone plate would also be sufficient for this. In fact, the toes are highly mobile so that they can push off when walking, which strengthens the foot muscles. If we do not allow the toes to do this – for example, because the foot is in a stiff shoe for most of the day – the muscles become weaker, the arch of the foot flattens and a malposition may develop. To avoid this, people should regularly walk barefoot or actively do foot gymnastics.



Around the world on foot – Common foot shapes

In general, a distinction is made between three different foot shapes, measured in terms of toe length and geometry. The names of the foot shapes are Egyptian, Roman and Greek. In fact, the names are to be understood as a reference to the countries or cultures, in which the respective foot shapes were most frequently depicted in art.


Egyptian foot
In the Egyptian foot the big toe is the longest and the remaining toes are slightly shorter. A line along the edge of the toes inclines at an angle, i.e. the length of the toes decreases evenly. This foot shape is widespread in about 50% of the European population, making it the most common. According to an old saying, people with this foot shape are particularly empathetic.
Roman foot
In this case, the first three toes are about the same length, the fourth and smallest toe are slightly shorter. This foot shape looks square and can only be found in about 10% of the European population. People with Roman feet are supposedly happy to be the centre of attention.
Greek foot
If the second toe is longer than the big one, this shape is called a "Greek" foot. Even in ancient times, this shape was considered a feature of beauty and flawlessness. People with that foot shape are said to have strong sense of authority and impulsiveness.
German foot
In a German foot all the toes, except for the first one, are about the same length. Only the "big toe" is significantly longer. These people are supposedly very patient, rather calm and extremely reliable.


Every foot is different. How is a single insole supposed to optimally fit thousands of foot sizes and shapes? The answer is provided by ATLAS: With the aid of flowmould technology, the FIT INSOLE can be individually tailored to the unique arch of your foot.





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