Toes are the digits of the foot of a tetrapod. Animal species such as cats that walk on their toes are described as being digitigrade. Humans, and other animals that walk on the soles of their feet, are described as being plantigrade; unguligrade animals are those that walk on hooves at the tips of their toes. The toes are, from medial to lateral:
Hallux (“big toe” or “great toe”), the innermost (most proximal) toe and the closest to the toes of the other foot
Second toe or “long toe”
Third toe, or “middle toe”
Fourth toe, or “ring toe”
Fifth toe (“little toe”, “pinky toe”, or “baby toe”), the outermost (most distal) toe
The human foot consists of numerous bones and soft tissues which support the weight of the upright human. Specifically, the toes assist the human while walking, providing balance, weight-bearing, and thrust during the gait. Toe bones articulate around the metatarsal bones which make up the central portion of the human foot. The joints between bones of the toe are known as interphalangeal joints. Movements are generally instigated by way of tendons actuated by muscles in the lower leg.
The hallux (large toe) is primarily flexed by the flexor hallucis longus muscle, located in the deep posterior of the lower leg, via the flexor hallucis longus tendon. Additional flexion control is provided by the flexor hallucis brevis. It is extended by the abductor hallucis muscle and the adductor hallucis muscle. The remaining toes are primarily controlled by the flexor digitorum brevis muscle and the extensor digitorum brevis muscle. Finally, the fifth toe (the smallest toe) has a separate set of control muscles and tendon attachments, the flexor and abductor digiti minimi. Numerous other foot muscles contribute to fine motor control of the foot. The connective tendons between the minor toes accounts for the inability to actuate individual toes.
Humans usually have five toes on each foot. Exceptions include polydactyly (more than five toes), and syndactyly or amputation (fewer than five toes). The four smallest toes consist of three phalanx bones, while the largest consists of two phalanx bones and two sesamoid bones. Many of the flexor tendons are shared, making it impossible to move individual toes independently; however, some prehensility, or grasping capability, does exist for most humans.