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How smart is your right foot?

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of PainScience.com: a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

Here’s an interesting coordination phenomenon. A very light item, this — something whimsical about feet for me to add to my plantar fasciitis book. It’s the season for whimsy.

Warning: you may keep trying over and over again to see if you can outsmart your foot. You probably can't. This phenomenon is pretty hard-wired into your nervous system.

  1. Lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles.
  2. Now, while doing this, draw the number '6' in the air with your right hand. Your foot will change direction.

And there ain’t nothing you can do about it! Naturally it works with any counter-clockwise motion of the hand — “6” is just handy way of describing that.

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