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Toeing The Line: A Primer on Those 10 Dominant Digits

May 30, 2024

Outside of trimming our toenails every now and then, many of us probably give little thought to those ten little digits on the ends of our feet. But as our podiatrist at Huguenot Podiatry Group explains, each one of our toes is individually responsible for critical tasks that contribute to our comfort and mobility.

Today let’s look at the role each of our toes play in helping us move about, every step of the way:

  • The big toe (also known as the hallux) bears much of the burden when we’re walking and running. The big toe’s strong plantar flexor muscle helps us push off the ground.
  • The second toe, which is often the longest of the five toes, acts alongside the big toe in giving us stability and balance, which is especially critical when we're on uneven ground.
  • The third and fourth, or middle toes, are used primarily for balance and stability. The middle toes spread and absorb our weight during weight-bearing activities.
  • Our pinky toes (also called hallux quintus), may be the smallest, but it plays a key role in our overall balance and helps prevent our feet from rolling inward while walking and running.

Strong, healthy toes are critical for moving efficiently, so our podiatrist recommends practicing good hygiene by keeping them clean, with regularly groomed toenails. Check the toenails for cuts, swelling or signs of infection. Wash the feet each day, dry them completely, and always change your socks at least once a day. Gentle toes stretches — raising and spreading them apart and holding the position for a few seconds at a time — promotes mobility and flexibility. 

If you are having pain, stiffness or have noticed an abnormal shape in any of your toes, please contact our podiatrist at Huguenot Podiatry Group today. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent a serious condition from affecting your ability to walk comfortably.