Why is that important? Because it means they have muscles attached to them, and muscles are designed to do WORK. They're part of the team. The everyday kind of work, like walking. Of course there are those who can also make their sandwiches with their feet, but let's just start with the basics.
Many shoe-wearing people don't even realize their feet are deformed, immobile, weak and unstable these days because it's so epidemic. And those that do realize it don't often know that their deformity is most likely functional, not structural, and therefore can be corrected by working on their soft tissues (fascia, muscles, ligaments, tendons) and their movement quality instead of reverting to surgery.
If you're interested in performance this is important in order to maximize the use of the over 100 muscles in the foot, many of which are attached to the toes.
If you're interested in aesthetics this is important in order to avoid and correct crooked toes.
A LITTLE FOOT ANATOMY 101
When two bones connect, it is referred to as a joint.
Mr. Big Toe has two bones and two joints.
The rest of the toes have three bones and three joints.
Ligaments are fibrous connective tissue that usually join bones. Each of these joints has two collateral ligaments: medial collateral and lateral collateral. The these ligaments determine, or limit, the amount of flexibility in the toes. When a ligament tightens, due to strain, stress, or pressure on the foot, it limits the toes' full range of motion.
Tendons connect muscles to the bones of the toes and allow for movement. For a more detailed list of the foot's muscles and tendons and their functions, check out this page:
Northcoast Footcare Foot Anatomy Tendons + Ligaments
The red outlines show the points at which muscles and their tendons attach.
Pay particular attention to the toes.
Although Mr. Big Toe is the most powerful of all the toes, few toes are escaping deformity, and the same corrective and maintenance principles apply for all.
Using the same techniques you'd use for ANY joint (for example shoulder and hip), correcting movement can be done with a combination of myofascial techniques and increasing movement quality by, above all MOVING, and other various movement-based methods. Check out FEET FREEX Recommendations for a list of myofascial modalitis and tips on using your feet.
I've heard too many people say about their bunions, "I never knew I could fix that!"
Well...you can. How much you can correct it will depend on the severity, but it is possible. Have a look at the image below. Note what is holding the toe in that position. More often than not you just have to increase the LENGTH, STRENGTH and STABILITY of the ligaments and muscles in the foot.
But that bump!
Anywhere the body gets "punched" a lot, it will respond by developing tissue to protect itself. That's what is also happening with bunions. In this case, the metatarsal bone is displaced and exposed and the body adds tissue to protect it. The misaligned end of the bone (which has a natural bump!) and the added padding are much more likely the cause of most of, if not all of, that bump. As one corrects their movement, realigns that toe, there's a good chance much of that bump will go bye bye...and not have to be shaved off as seen in the photo below. Looks to me like part of the original bone structure and not just the "extra" bone (that is commonly thought to have grown) is shaved off. Shame.
Go be #FEETFREE!