Most people figure out fairly early on in their lives whether or not they’re right or left handed. They simply begin picking up their crayons with one little hand or another, and that’s that. In fact, there are many eccentricities about one’s dominant hand. According to the Mirror, “humans have been arguing about left and right for centuries.” While lefties seemed to have been more popular during the Stone Age, the vast majority of people prefer their right-hand today. However, those with dominant left hands are commonly thought to be more creative, inventive, and artistic.
You may have notions of what your dominant hand says about you, but which foot do you favor? This question can be a little more difficult to answer. At Austin foot doctor Dr. Jeffery LaMour’s podiatry practice, we can answer just about any question you have about your feet. In the following blog, we explain the science behind laterality and how you can determine which foot you favor.
The Science of Dominance
Why might someone use one side over the other? Scientific American provides a rather widely held hypothesis: “each person’s brain is divided into two sides – the left and right hemispheres. In some cases, one hemisphere may be more active than the other during a certain activity.” Due to the way our brains divvy up tasks, one side typically takes over. So, Scientific American explains: “when someone is processing language, one hemisphere is usually working harder than the other. There is also some correlation between the side(s) we use in our brain and the side we use on our body.” This is what creates “sidedness, laterality, or left/right dominance.”
In her Discover Magazine article “Picking Sides: How Genes Help Us Decide Between Left and Right,” Sharon Moalem expands on this concept: “each side of our brain has evolved for functional specialization,” which “allows us to perform multiple complex tasks.” She writes: “for our species, one of the most important tasks is communication, which is generally processed on the left side of the brain,” thus the popularity of right handedness.
Moalem also cites “Amar Klar, a senior investigator of the Gene Regulation and Chromosome Biology Laboratory at the National Cancer Institute,” who asserts that there is “a direct genetic cause for handedness, perhaps even a single gene—a discovery we’ve thus far managed to miss as we’ve combed the human genome.” Genetically determined or not, it seems that our brains have a lot to do with side dominance.
Cultural norms can also play into this. Some believe that so many people are right handed simply because we assume that right is “right.” Of course, it’s also important to note that your dominant hand may not correspond to your dominant foot. Moalem notes: “you might think that footedness and handedness are always aligned, but as it turns out that’s not always the case…Lots of people aren’t congruent.”
Which Foot Do You Favor?
Ascertaining which foot is dominant is not an exact science. There are differing perspectives on how it might be done.
- Moalem advocates for the “staircase” method: “imagine yourself at the bottom of a staircase that you’re about to ascend. Which foot moves first?” The one that takes the first step is most likely your favored one, she argues.
- Scientific American provides a different tactic: “Place a coin on the floor directly in front of [you, and] step onto the coin.” Whichever foot you used is your preferred pad.
- Science Kids offers another two tests: “1. Run forward and jump off one leg, which did you jump off? 2. Drop a ball on the ground and kick it, which foot did you use?”
After using one or more of these at-home experiments, you should be able to determine whether you’re right or left footed.
Take Care of Your Feet
No matter which foot is dominant, it’s important to make sure both are in good shape. You depend on them to walk, run, skip, dance, and generally get around. Austin foot doctor Dr. LaMour and our team offer a variety of services to help you care for every component of your feet, from your toenails to your tendons. If you have any other questions about your feet or want assistance with your podiatric health, contact us today.