About 10% of people worldwide have a ‘Greek foot’, where their second toe is longer than their big toe. It gets this name because it was idealised in Greek sculpture, and even the Statue of Liberty follows this classical tradition. Shoe-fitters refer to this phenomenon as ‘Morton’s Toe’ after the American orthopaedic surgeon Dudley Joy Morton who was the first modern doctor to describe the condition.
In France, having a ‘Greek Foot’ is traditionally thought to be a sign of high intelligence.
One quarter of all the bones in the body are located in our feet.
Shoe size in England is measured in barleycorns, a unit of measurement that stretches back to Anglo-Saxon times. Based on the length of a grain of barley, there are three barleycorns to an inch, so each shoe size adds a third of an inch in length to a shoe. The measuring device in shoe shops is called a Brannock Device, after its inventor who designed it in the 1920s. Mr Brannock worked for the company all his life and ensured the devices were built to last. His company is still going strong.
Most people do not wear the correct shoe size for their feet. According to David G. Armstrong, Professor of Surgery at the William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine in Chicago, three-quarters of people wear the wrong sized shoes. The reason for this may be that people stick to a size they were measured for when young and fail to realise that their feet change shape throughout their lives. Also people like to get the most out of their footwear and wear and re-wear a pair of shoes even if they no longer fit.
It is possible that no shoe, however well-fitting, is good for your feet. The best thing to do is walk barefoot. A study in podiatry journal The Foot looked at 180 modern humans from three different population groups (Sotho, Zulu, and European) and compared them to 2,000-year-old skeletons. The researchers concluded that people had healthier feet before the invention of shoes. The Zulu, who often go barefoot, had the healthiest feet. The Europeans, who were the biggest shoe wearers, had the worst.
No one thought of making different left and right shoes until around 1800.
Shoe size in England is measured in barleycorns (thirds of an inch), a unit of length which dates back to the Saxons.
Animals can be divided into 'plantigrades' - creatures that walk on the whole of their feet (like people, bears, baboons, alligators and frogs) - and 'digitigrade' - creatures that walk on their toes (like dogs, cats, birds and dinosaurs). A biped is something with two feet rather two legs (from the Latin bi, 'two' and pedem, 'a foot'). Butterflies taste with their feet, gannets incubate eggs under their webbed fee and elephants use their feet to hear - by picking up vibrations of the Earth through their soles. The word ‘pedigree’ is derived from the French phrase pied de gru, literally 'the foot of a crane', because the descent lines of family trees look like birds feet.
Squirrels have sweaty feet: their sweat glands are between the footpads and paws between toes so when they get hot or excited they leave wet tracks. They also use foot sweat to mark their territorial trees. Dogs also sweat through their footpads.
Most people have one foot longer than the other.
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
'Elvis foot' is climber's jargon for being so tired that your foot trembles on the rock.