The next time you see someone who is barefoot, check out the length of their toes. You may just see an anatomical variant known as Morton’s Toe.
Morton’s Toe describes a type of foot where the second toe is longer than the big toe. This variant is surprisingly common, affecting an estimated 10 per cent the population.
It is believed that Morton’s Toe can change the biomechanics of the foot. These biomechanical changes can eventually lead to pain, calluses, and other types of foot problems. Usually simply choosing the right shoes can help alleviate the problems associated with Morton’s Toe.
It is even possible to have Morton’s Toe without having a second toe that is visibly longer. In reality a Morton’s Toe is typically due to the foot bone that leads to the second toe being longer. This bone connects the mid-foot to the second toe, and the articulation can be seen at the foot ‘knuckles’. So, when you squeeze up your toes, if the second knuckle sticks out further than the others, a Morton’s Toe is present!
A symptom associated with Morton’s Toe is the formation of calluses on the foot. These calluses usually form in three classic locations: on the bottom of the foot just behind the second Toe, on the pinkie-toe side of the foot, and on the big toe side of the foot.
Pronation syndrome, which occurs when the ankle rolls inward while walking, can also be connected to Morton’s Toe. Even flat feet have been blamed on Morton’s Toe.
The formation of the calluses and the pronation syndrome are both symptoms of faulty biomechanics. In this case, it is because the big toe bones are intended to bear the majority of a person’s body weight during walking. However, when Morton’s Toe is present these forces are transferred to the smaller second toe bones. The change in where the body’s weight is carried affects the biomechanics of the foot.
Patients experiencing Morton’s Toe can often find relief by wearing proper shoes, or using orthotics. Arch supports and padded insoles can help correct the poor foot posture associated with Morton’s Toe. People should make sure that their shoes fit comfortably, and do not squeeze or pinch the toes. Shoes without enough toe room can lead to pain and discomfort for patients with Morton’s Toe. Buying slightly larger shoes can help to relieve the problem.
If the pain does not subside even after you have switched to more comfortable footwear, it may be time to consult your health care professional and have special orthotics designed for your feet’s dimensions. Orthotics with arch support features can help keep your feet aligned.
If you have a visible Morton’s Toe, you can take solace in the fact that the ancient Greeks thought that it created the idea proportions for foot shape. Greek sculptures will usually have a longer second toe, a trait that is even exhibited in the Statue of Liberty!
On a less complementary tone, some have suggested that such a foot is a throw-back to a less evolved state. The French had a different term to describe Morton’s Toe; pied de Néanderthal.
Morton’s Toe is hereditary. If one of your parents has a second toe that is longer than their big toe, you may have it too!