It’s a pain only comparable to watching Bambi’s mother die: Stubbing your toe.
But why does it hurt so much?
Is it because our furniture secretly hates us for making it spend the first five years of its life in an Ikea warehouse before becoming a scratching post for our cats?
Maybe. But Chris Geiser, clinical assistant professor of exercise science at the College of Health Sciences in Milwaukee, believes there are actually biological reasons for the excruciating pain.
Firstly, the tips of our fingers and toes act as a sort of ‘interface with the world’ – they need to warn us if something is hot, sharp, slippery or dangerous in any way.
Because of this they are full of nerve endings, which means banging one on a door frame inevitably hurts like hell – but hey at least you now know wood and human flesh don’t mix well together. Thanks toes!
Secondly, despite our toes often leading the charge into any new environment (literally), there is very little skin or muscle surrounding them, leaving these nerve endings exposed.
Chris says: ‘Much like hitting our shin, there is no fatty tissue or muscle tissue overlying the bones in the toe to cushion the impact. Every bit of the kinetic energy created in moving our legs forward is absorbed by the skin and bone of the toe.’
He also notes that being at the end of our legs means the toes are one of the fastest moving parts of our body (but not quite as fast as the speed at which expletives fly out of your mouth after you stub it), meaning that even in a casual walk your toe could be colliding with that coffee table at the rate of a speeding football.
Girl interrupts her handstand to take an extra close look at the floor
Lastly, Chris thinks one of the reasons stubbing your toe is so painful is due to our evolutionary progression. (Damn you, Charles Darwin!)
Humans were around for many thousands of years before steel-capped boots and penicillin were invented, and a minor cut on the foot would often become infected and possibly lead to death a few hundred years ago.
Therefore people with extra-sensitive toes ‘were less likely to strike them, creating an evolutionary advantage’, according to Chris.
Sadly Geiser didn’t offer up any advice on how to avoid stubbing your toe.
We suppose you could purposely develop frostbite to kill the nerve endings down there? (Please do not do this)