Why Do Our Feet Have So Many Nerve Endings If We Are Constantly Stepping on Them?

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The thousands of nerve endings in the human foot supply sensory feedback to the central nervous system, according to the Canadian Federation of Podiatric Medicine (CFPM). The foot has more nerve endings per square inch than anywhere else in the body. Nerves constantly are sensing characteristics of the surface underfoot.

Nerve signals in the foot transmit information to the brain about the safety of the walking surface and the position of the foot relative to the surface. In return, the brain and muscles send signals to the feet that achieve locomotion and maintain balance, according to InnerBody.

InnerBody also points out that the two largest nerves in the bottom of the foot, the medial and lateral plantar nerves, work together to control the small foot and toe muscles. These nerves are responsible for the constant shifting that prevents someone from falling down. These nerves also relay information to the brain about the positions of joints, muscle tension and speed of movements. With this information, the brain propels the muscles of the legs, ankles and feet and maintains balance.

The more than 200,000 nerves in the feet also exist to aid in walking with proper movement, according to New York. The nerves are a part of neuromechanical-feedback mechanisms that help protect joints like the knee by stepping with appropriate pressure and form.