Understanding the Feet’s Structure and Function

09/02/2021

Understanding the structure, function, evolution and development of human feet can help us prevent problems related to our feet as well as better design footwear for better safety, comfort and motion performance. This is especially the case with the children’s rapidly developing feet, where proper footwear is a must to avoid problems and maximise their comfort.

Function of feet

First, we immediately think of our feet as something that allows us to walk, run and go different places. We also think of it as a platform to support our weight. Aside from that, our feet might have given us evolutionary advantages that have made our modern intelligent life possible.

For example, with the appearance and evolution of feet, we’re now able to have our hands. Instead of using all four limbs for movement on the ground, we’re able to free two of them (our hands now). With that freedom our hands further evolved and developed, which then our ancestors used to fashion and make tools (and even become creative). This is almost unique to us humans compared to primates, mammals and most other animals. That one small advantage perhaps allowed us to dominate the planet.

The evolution of feet and the freedom of our hands opened endless possibilities. It even affected our entire anatomy. For instance, walking with our own two feet (i.e. bipedalism) is actually a lot more energy-efficient than using four limbs (quadrupedal mammals) to cover distances. This savings in energy likely helped our ancestors hunt and gather more food. Also, the evolution and development feet drastically influenced how our skull, hip, vertebral column and other parts are positioned. This is in response to minimising the strain and energy expenses in supporting our bipedal lifestyle and development.

It’s fascinating to think of our feet as something that gave us an evolutionary advantage (and also opened up the footwear industry). It’s also fascinating to think about the possibilities it opened for us, whether for work or leisure, as well as how it shaped our lifestyle and society (our modes of transportation would be totally different if we’re not bipedal). In the distant future, perhaps it will continue to shape our society and open up more possibilities we’re not aware of yet.