It’s a myth that losing a big toe can make someone disabled, unable to walk, run, or stand up. The big toe is important; it is responsible for 40% of the foot’s heavy lifting when you walk. However, with therapy and practice, people can learn to function without their big toes. Running with 9 toes is less efficient, and walking gaits are shorter on average without a big toe, but foot muscles will develop to compensate for the loss, resulting in very little (if any) disability.
One reason for this myth’s popularity is the U.S. military’s medical standards. Some desperate draftees during the Vietnam War were able to avoid military service by removing their toes. Even today, the Department of Defense is able to reject candidates for service based on the “current absence of a foot or any portion thereof”.
Another fun fact: the first known prosthetic limb replacement was an Egyptian woman from 1000 B.C. with a wooden big toe.
19 Astonishing Facts