Thursday, 20 November 2014

Crow's Feet

I have crow's feet; no, not those cute little wrinkles you get at the corners of your eyes when you smile. I mean my feet look like those of a dead crow, stuck in that half-curled position that birds feet take when they are dead, or fully relaxed. My toes, especially on my left foot, have a permanent curl to them.

Think about feet for a minute, especially your toes, and birds toes. A bird's feet have evolved differently from ours, but we share the same common root. A bird's toes are designed to relax into a semi-curled position. They are that way when the fly, and when they die. This semi-curled position means that when they land on a branch, simply by relaxing their feet they can make contact ready to clench and close. When they want to leave, once again all they have to do is relax and they are free to go. Their toe reflex is triggered when the inner part of their foot makes contact, automatically closing. Even when you see a crow on the ground, you will see a curl in their feet. It's natural.

Now think about your own feet. Human feet also have a natural, slight curl in the resting position. We, like the birds, have to think about it to flatten them out, unless they are actually at work. When your foot is lifted, your toes get ready for the next contact by curling slightly. When the ball of your foot touches ground, your reflexive reactions cause your toes to splay out ever so slightly, in preparation to grasp whatever surface presents itself, in preparation to spread out your weight, to stabilize. When your toes touch down, they sense the surface beneath them and either curl slightly for grip or spread slightly for distribution. They adjust automatically; it's natural.

My toes, on the other hand, do none of that. The muscles that would normally cause my toes to splay out no longer work. The muscles that cause my toes to grip no longer work except for the smallest bit, an oddity that I find confusing. My toes can curl, but they cannot straighten out. Add to that my wheelchair reality; my feet rarely hit the ground these days, and when they do it is usually only for a moment or two.

Given that my foot muscles are dead and my toes are unworked, they are slowly reverting to their permanent resting state; curled. My toes on my left foot no longer straighten out at all. The toes on my right foot can still go flat, but only if I make it so by intervention and pressure. Their natural desire is to curl up. Thus I have feet like a crow, or perhaps more like a dead crow. I have crow's feet.

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