Why do some people have a second toe that is longer than their big toe?

Unless they work as a foot model, have a foot fetish or work at a beauty salon, people don’t tend not to pay too much attention to their feet.

So, take a good look now – because some sources claim your trotters could provide insight into your ancestry.

For hundreds of years, people have placed significance on the shape and angle of feet and toes, placing these in five categories that link to your forebears: Greek, Egyptian, Roman, Celtic and Germanic.

Don’t get too excited – there is no scientific evidence to suggest that any of the above is true, so if you really want to learn more about your family tree, you’re better off doing some research, consulting an expert or taking a DNA test.

However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn a thing or two about yourself by closely inspecting your feet, or specifically the length and order of length, of your toes.

Most foot models have a ‘classic’ foot look – the big toe is the largest, and the others follow in succession – but it’s actually extremely common to have a second toe that is more protruding.

It even has a name: Morton’s toe (or if you believe the above, Greek toe – you can often notice it on the feet of statues made in Ancient Greece).

Some myths even say that the design of a person’s feet is linked to their personality.

Those with a Greek foot-toe shape, also sometimes known as flame or fire foot, have a ‘fiery’ personality.

You’re also more energetic, creative , athletic and prone to stress and anxiety.

Apparently, fire-footed people also like to cause drama (as someone with this type of toe, I am personally affronted).

But Morton’s toe is actually very common; an American study from 2010 showcased that 42.2% of people have longer second toes, though it’s slightly more prevalent in men.

The research investigated ‘the relationship between second toe length and androgen-linked [hormone-driven] behaviours’ and found a few interesting facts.

Firstly, there was a ‘significant association’ between having Greek toe and being left-handed. Men with this toe type also exercised more frequently, and women with it were more competitive.

This is an interesting find, as a different piece of research from 2004, conducted by The Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Siriraj Hospital in Thailand, investigated the relationship between Morton’s toe and athleticism – and found that athletes more commonly had fire foot.

‘The length between the heel to the first toe was shorter than that of to the second toe in national athletes,’ the report reads.

‘This finding was opposite to the non-athletes.’

But does this really mean that people with fire foot are more likely to become athletes?

Sorry to crush your dreams about becoming the next Usain Bolt or Simone Biles, but not really. There hasn’t been enough research in the area to present conclusive results.

‘Research has shown that more athletes have Morton’s toe compared to non-athletes, but I wouldn’t suggest that having Morton’s toe puts some athletes at an advantage or that you’re more likely to become an athlete if you have this condition, given the extra challenges and pressure that is put on these type of feet,’ said Dr Diana Gall from Doctor-4-U.

‘In fact, athletes with Morton’s toe are likely to experience more pain and damage to their feet.’

What is Morton’s toe?
The name is misleading, as it technically has nothing to do with your toes, but rather your metatarsals, which are the five long bones that connect to the phalanges (bones of the toes, each has three, except for the big toe).

Metatarsal bones are located in the middle of your foot, and also connect to the bones in the back of the foot (tarsals).

If you have Morton’s toe, the metatarsal connected to your big toe is shorter than the second metatarsal and voilà, you have a longer second toe.

It’s a hereditary condition, so you can blame your folks for this one.

Overall, it won’t make much of a difference to your life – but because the weight is placed differently within the foot, some people with Morton’s toe do experience pain from it.

If the pain is substantial, you may need to use certain shoes or accessories or your doctor might suggest certain exercises. In more extreme cases, you might be prescribed pain medication or require surgery.

‘Morton’s toe is very common and most people don’t experience any pain, but in some people, it may cause aches, pains, and tenderness because of how the weight is distributed across the foot,’ added Dr Gall.

‘The pain usually occurs near the arch of the foot at the base of the first two metatarsals, it can also lead to painful foot conditions such as plantar fasciitis because of the overpronation that Morton’s toe can cause, meaning that the foot may turn inwards.

‘This can happen because of the added pressure that is put on the second toe.

‘When you walk or run the longest toe takes more of the weight and pressure. The big toe is sturdy enough to take this pressure, but the second toe not so much which is why people with Morton’s toe may experience aches and pains in their feet.

‘Overpronation can then cause structural problems in the ankles, legs, hips, and even the back which could lead to painful arthritis.’