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Left-Footedness: Myths, Facts, and Their Significance

Ever thought about whether it makes a difference to go through life as a left-footer or right-footer? Imagine living in a world where almost everything is made for the right hand or right foot – and you do everything the opposite way. Sounds intriguing, right? We thought so too. That's why we've done some digging and are here to enlighten you on what it really means to be left-footed.

What is Left-Footedness? So, what does it actually mean to be left-footed? It's simple: If you automatically use your left foot first when kicking a ball, dancing, or climbing stairs, congrats – you're probably a true left-footer! Interestingly, it's not just about preference, but also about your biology. Scientists say that left-footedness is influenced by a mix of genetics and environmental factors. It's like being left- or right-handed, but with feet.

How Does Left-Footedness Develop? Now it gets exciting: Where does left-footedness actually come from? The answer lies, at least partly, in our genes. Researchers have found that there is indeed a genetic component that determines whether you're left- or right-footed. So, your parents pass on more than just their hair color – maybe also their preference for the left foot. But the DNA blueprint doesn't set footedness in stone. Your environment also plays a role. From the way you played as a child to the sports you engage in – all this can influence which foot takes the lead.

Do Left-Handedness and Left-Footedness Correlate? Left-footedness and left-handedness are often linked, but not always. Many people who are left-handed also tend to be left-footed. This is because side preference is controlled by the brain and often affects both sides of the body. However, there are also people who show mixed laterality, meaning they might be left-handed but right-footed, or vice versa. So, the sidedness is individually different and not always restricted to one side of the body. Overall, there's a correlation between left-handedness and left-footedness, but it's not absolute, and there are many variations and combinations of laterality in different people.

Linkshändigleit und Linksfüßigkeit korrelieren
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Are there Anatomical Differences between Left and Right Feet?

Now it gets really curious: Are left feet somehow different from right ones? The short answer: Not really. Biologically, left and right feet are pretty similar. But, and here's a big but, it depends on how you use them. If you're left-footed, your left foot might be slightly stronger or more agile, simply because you use it more often and intensely. It's like building muscle – the more you train, the stronger it gets. And it's the same with feet. That's why shoes sometimes fit tighter on one foot than the other, even though both are the same size. Apart from shoe shopping, this difference is most noticeable in sports, where every small advantage counts.

Are Left-Footers at an Advantage in Certain Sports? Imagine standing on the soccer field, ready to shoot – and surprising everyone with your left foot. Yes, in some sports, left-footedness can actually be a real advantage! In soccer, for example, left-footed players are often known for their unpredictable shots and passes. In tennis, a strong left-handed serve can make opponents sweat. It's not just about physical abilities, but also about the element of surprise. Many athletes train primarily to defend against right-footed opponents and are sometimes at a disadvantage against left-footers.

Is 'Goofy' in Board Sports the Same as Being Left-Footed? 'Goofy-footers' are people who have their right foot forward in board sports like surfing, wakeboarding, snowboarding, or skateboarding. Those with the left foot forward are 'Regular.' Now, you might think that this directly correlates with whether one is a left-footer or right-footer. But actually, that's not the case. Whether the dominant foot is better positioned in front or back depends on the surfer's personal preference. Having the dominant foot in front can give a stronger sense of control - especially in turns and tricks. However, having the dominant foot in the back can generate more power and speed. In short: a surfer in goofy stance is not automatically left-handed or left-footed. The relationship between stance and laterality is individual.

Linksfüßigkeit hat nichts mit der Stance zu tun
Photo: Jeremy Bishop, Unsplash


Famous Left-Footers in Sports

Lionel Messi - The world-famous soccer player is known for his left-footed dribbles and goals, making him one of the best players in history.

Husain Bolt -Though known for his incredible speed, the sprinter is also an example of a successful athlete who is left-footed.

Rob Machado - A famous surfer, known for his fluid style and impressive performance on the wave, often with his dominant left foot forward. Machado has won numerous competitions in his career and is considered one of the most influential surfers of his generation.

How Does Left-Footedness Affect Daily Life?

Daily life is full of little routines and processes optimized for right-footers. But what does that mean for left-footers? Imagine going up a staircase designed so that the first step is naturally taken with the right foot. This is the case, for example, with spiral staircases where the steps don't have the same width throughout. For left-footers, this can be unfamiliar and less intuitive. Also, fitness equipment, often designed for right-footers or positioned in the room in a certain way, requires left-footers to rethink and adapt. The pedal arrangement in cars is even disadvantageous for left-footers from a safety perspective, as the critical pedals, brake and gas, are intended for operation with the right (weaker for them) foot.

Special Shoes for Left-Footers

Are there actually special shoes for left-footers? The answer is a bit complicated. While most shoes are symmetrical and thus suitable for both foot types, there are a few considerations for left-footers, or ideas that take into account the different laterality of people. Especially in sports where foot positioning is crucial, like in soccer, specially adapted shoes can make a difference. These shoes can have special sole profiles or reinforcements on the left (or right) side to accommodate the stronger wear and special stress. But even in everyday life, it can be interesting to pay attention to shoe choice. Left-footers tend to wear out their shoes on the left side more, meaning they may need new shoes faster than right-footers.

"We at Fünve want to work as sustainably as possible. If shoes wear unevenly and then a pair has to be replaced, although only one shoe is at the end of its life cycle, we find that a shame. Would you think it would be a good idea if you could order your shoes according to your 'footedness' so that both sides wear out completely evenly? Or do you think that's nonsense? Feel free to write it in the comments section under the article!"

A footbed is always a good idea!

In general, however, shoes with a well-formed footbed are important to accommodate the laterality of feet. This applies to both left-footers and right-footers. And all the more so the more pronounced the preference for one of the sides is. A good footbed supports the natural structure of the foot. Which in turn is important for posture, joint alignment, and balance.

Fünve Slides mit Fußbett, für Linksfüßer und Rechtsfüßer Fünve shoes with footbed - for right-footers and left-footers; Photo: Fünve


Buy Fünve Slides with comfy footbed here

It's fascinating to see how the small differences, like the choice of foot, influence us humans in our way of living, playing sports, and expressing ourselves. Tall - short, thick - thin, male - female, right-footed - left-footed: We're all different! So let's celebrate our diversity and recognize our individual needs.

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