6

I'm wondering if it is possible (probably with lot of training) to control each of my toe independently of the others.

Big toe and pinky: no problem, but the three middle ones: I can't.

This question came to my mind, when my Yoga teacher explained that she needed long time to control her pinky toe. From what I understood (and I'm clearly not an expert), yoga is also about getting aware of each of your muscles and learn how to control them.

I wonder if some people (maybe a Yogi) are able to control each of their toe individually.

I Googled the question, but the answers I found contradicts each other and are often not clear.

  • 1
    I am able to independently move most of my toes. It's just something I've always done. Practice helps a lot, that's why I can move them but with different degrees of difficulty per toe. My left pinky toe will barely move after I broke it, so that's also a factor. It definitely helps to stare at the toe you want to move. It helps you focus and it makes it easy to tell when you're having a tiny moment of success that you can work on enhancing. – Squiddles Feb 13 at 13:41
  • 2
    I can move each toe separately a little. However, I am an expert at using my big toes just like thumbs on hands. As a young teenager I was fascinated by an armless cowboy and how he could use his bare feet the same as human hands. I was so impressed, that I started practicing using my big toes the way he did. Now, I can use my feet just like hands and I love it. I can even pick up a pen and write effortlessly and legibly with my feet, and I use them all the time. Shoes have become the enemy, haha ! – George Duvall May 24 at 10:33
11

Yes, with practice, you could learn to control every toe individually.

The reason it is difficult, is that the part of your brain which is responsible for voluntary movements, the motor cortex, has relatively little area devoted to your toes. Here is a representation of the relative area each body part has in the motor cortex:

motor humunculus

The more area devoted to the body part, the better voluntary control you have over it.

The motor cortex also shows a high degree of plasticity. That is, practice induces measurable changes in the brain: the area devoted to the specific body part increases, and control over a body part improves as a result.

Amputees are a living proof of this. Some of them have developed the ability to carry out everyday tasks using their toes, even writing.

However, should you spend time learning such skills? Most likely, not. Also, "getting aware of every muscle and learn to control them" is too generic to have any meaning.

For example, the toes are extremely useful in balancing. (Try balancing on one leg with an injured big toe!) If you practice a lot of yoga poses balancing on one leg, your toes will develop the necessary skills to work together with the rest of your body to achieve balance. You, then, might become conscious of your toes working skillfully.

This is probably what your teacher meant when she said it took her some time to control her pinky toe. She did not spend her time trying to "control every body part" separately. She has practiced specific skills, that were relevant and useful to her. For example, balancing, which involves the whole body, with the parts working together in harmony. Then, she became aware, that the parts, eg. the toes, have improved in their skill.

protected by Community Sep 8 at 17:28

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.