Whether you’ve studied Renaissance art or you’ve scrolled past some viral social media posts, you may have heard the claim that your foot is the same size as your forearm. It may shock you to learn there’s some truth behind this statement, though there are also some exceptions. If you’ve ever wondered whether your foot is the same size as your forearm, use this guide to help you learn the truth.
Around 1490, artist Leonardo da Vinci sketched a drawing now known as “Vitruvian Man.” This famous drawing, housed at the Gallerie dell’Accademia di Venezia in Italy, illustrates the proportions of the human body. Among da Vinci’s measurements for the drawing, he noted a person’s foot is the same size as their forearm, which is the part of the arm between the elbow and wrist. Even centuries later, people are still wondering if the foot-to-forearm ratio is accurate. It’s even inspired recent social media trends where people share pictures of their foot compared to their forearm.
So is da Vinci’s statement about the foot-to-forearm ratio fact or fiction? The answer is that it’s true, for the most part. For many people, it’s likely the length of their forearm bones will be similar to the length of their foot. However, it’s rarely a perfect measurement. Most people will have variations of a few centimeters or even an inch or two. In fact, some people may have much smaller feet than forearms or vice versa. That’s because everyone’s body is different and complex, and what’s true for one person may not be true for another.
Your feet and your forearms serve different purposes, so why is there a correlation between these body parts? Throughout history, many artists, like da Vinci, have believed the human body comprises various ratios and correlations. Artists can use these body proportions to draw, sculpt, or paint realistic depictions of the human body.
Scientists, too, have used these common ratios to help them understand the human body. For example, a doctor takes various measurements to determine whether a person is meeting standards for development. A wide variation in body proportions may cause a doctor to believe a person’s body is not developing as it should be. While many artists and scientists have attempted to explain why these ratios exist, the reality is there’s no real answer. It’s possible the human body functions optimally with these proportions. However, people vary widely in size and shape, and it’s unlikely that ideal body proportions exist.
Not convinced that your foot is the same size as your forearm? There’s only one way to find out, and it’s fairly simple to take these measurements. If you’re able, place one of your feet against the opposite forearm. This action will give you a pretty good idea of whether your foot and your forearm are the same length.
If you want to be precise, use a ruler or tape measurer to take actual measurements of your foot and your forearm. Record both figures and then measure your other foot and forearm for accuracy. You can also have another person help you measure these body parts if you find it difficult to do yourself.
While measuring your own foot and forearm can help you determine your own proportions, it can be fun to compare your measurements with others. Ask your close friends and family members to measure their own feet and forearms. You can use their measurements to learn how you compare with average proportions. For example, you may learn you have short forearms or small feet. If you get enough measurements, you may even be able to make comparisons based on different factors, such as age or gender.
While many people do find their foot and forearm to be roughly the same size, it’s typically not an exact ratio. It’s rare for anyone to have a foot and a forearm that are exactly the same size, down to the millimeter. These types of ratios exist to help understand the human body and predict its development, but like many areas of science, there are gray areas.
If you measure your foot and your forearm and find they’re nowhere near the same size, don’t panic. Typically, a disproportionate foot-to-forearm ratio isn’t a cause for concern. It just means you have different measurements than other people. For example, some people have small feet and long forearms, while others have larger feet and shorter forearms. Unless you’re experiencing pain anywhere in your body, it’s best to consider the foot-to-forearm ratio as a general guideline, rather than a hard-and-fast rule.
Like the foot-to-forearm ratio, there are other proportions that exist in the human body. Here are a few other common ratios:
If you’re curious about any of these ratios, take some measurements of your body to learn your own proportions. You may find that some of these ratios are true for you, while you vary from the average proportions in other areas. Again, these inconsistencies are usually nothing to worry about unless you’re experiencing pain in any area of your body.
Now you know more about the history of the foot-to-forearm ratio and how to measure your body to determine your own ratio. If you have other questions related to your feet or if you’re experiencing pain in your lower extremities, schedule a consultation with Dr. Lisa M. Schoene. With over 25 years of experience in podiatric medicine, Dr. Schoene and the other experts at Gurnee Podiatry & Sports Medicine Associates can provide a variety of podiatric services, such as sports medicine treatment and physical therapy. Contact us to schedule an appointment at our offices in Chicago or Park City, Illinois.