A Minimalist Miracle? Correct Toes May Treat and Cure Foot Pain Without Surgery
Do you suffer from foot or ankle pain? Do you wish you could treat your foot ailments naturally, without surgery or expensive drugs? If so, then the folks at Northwest Foot and Ankle may have a solution for you.
Located just north of the Soft Star workshop in nearby Portland, Oregon, Northwest Foot and Ankle is spearheaded by sports podiatrist Dr. Ray McClanahan, DPM. Dr. McClanahan has devoted his practice to treating foot problems by restoring natural foot function (i.e., barefoot movement). As an avid barefoot athlete himself, the good doctor has developed and documented successful methods to help people recover from foot pain simply by encouraging their feet to move like nature intended.
While some individuals may see improvement from foot problems simply by spending more time barefoot or in minimalist shoes, most people in our culture have worn conventional shoes for many decades with the result of deformed feet and weakened muscles. Although surgery was once considered the only option to these ailments, Dr. McClanahan has developed a much simpler solution.
Correct Toes are silicone toe spacers that may not look like much, but pack quite a punch. Dr. McClanahan invented these spacers by testing them on his own feet, and the results were undeniable. Correct Toes work to gradually restore feet to their natural position, and the doctor's research has shown this to have a positive impact on a wide range of foot ailments, including the following:
- Tailor's Bunions
- Hallux Limitus/Rigidus
- Ingrown Toenail
- Heel Pain
- Morton's Neuroma
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Shin Splints
- Runner's Knee
- and more...
Unlike other toe spacers on the market, the lightweight silicone design of Correct Toes allows them to be used for walking and running after the initial adjustment phase (they're a favorite running accessory for Michael Sandler, bestselling author of Barefoot Running and Barefoot Walking). They also come with instructions for how you can customize or trim them yourself to improve fit or target specific foot conditions.
When we discovered this product, Soft Star co-owner Tricia decided to try them out herself, followed by several of our shoemaking elves. We liked them so much we decided to sell them with our shoes. We're proud to say you can now purchase Correct Toes directly from the Soft Star website!
The following excerpt, taken from the Northwest Foot and Ankle website, describes in greater detail how Correct Toes work, as well as the the medical philosophy of Dr. McClanahan. But first, here's a little disclaimer—remember, we're elves, not doctors:
Please note: the following medical claims are made by Northwest Foot and Ankle and may not necessarily reflect the views of Soft Star Shoes. Our staff is not qualified to give medical advice regarding Correct Toes or foot health. If you have any medical questions about Correct Toes or foot problems, we recommend contacting Northwest Foot and Ankle directly (503-243-2699 or [email protected])
About Correct Toes
Barefoot vs. Shoe-Wearing
In some parts of the world, people consistently wear minimal footwear, either going barefoot or using flip-flops and sandals. A very small percentage of this population suffers from foot problems. In the industrialized world however, where narrow and rigid footwear is the norm, the occurrence of foot, ankle, and musculoskeletal problems is substantially higher. What is the reason for this disparity?
Natural Foot Shape & Function
The human foot is designed such that the toes are spread and extended. This allows for optimal balance and stride. In societies where mainly flip-flops or sandals are used, foot integrity is maintained through life and foot problems are avoided. In industrialized societies however, the foot’s natural shape changes over time. The toes become elevated and pinched together, resulting in weakened flexor muscles combined with overly tight extensors. Subsequently, natural gait and balance are compromised. The main culprit is rigid footwear. The vast majority of footwear in the industrialized world elevates the heel above the forefoot (ball of foot), bends the toes upward (known as toe spring), and squeezes the toes together. Over time, this deforms the foot, leading to a host of foot problems, gait abnormalities, musculoskeletal pathologies.
The long-held conventional podiatric view is that the feet are inherently misshaped, and they need to be corrected with the use of orthotics or surgeries. Where these methods fail, pain is to be managed by anti-inflammatory drugs. Dr. Ray McClanahan is a podiatric physician and avid athlete who challenges this viewpoint. He has discovered, through extensive literature research and years of clinical practice, that the best way to treat most foot problems is by allowing the foot to function exactly as nature intended. Dr. Ray’s main approach with his patients is teaching about foot’s innate ability to walk and run with a perfect gait.
He demonstrates how most shoes on the market damage the foot shape, thereby compromising gait. He then shows how returning the feet to their natural shape eliminates existing foot problems and prevents new ones from arising. This is done using a Correct Toes spacer, which spreads the toes to their natural and correct position. This improves proprioception, which then allows the brain to better promote balance and optimal muscle function. Finally, Dr. Ray educates patients on choosing appropriate shoes that provide a flat surface and sufficient room for the toes to spread, thus allowing the gait to occur as nature intended. Clinical experience has shown again and again that returning the foot to its natural state treats most foot problems, and by extension, many musculoskeletal problems.
Examples of positive outcomes with the use of Dr. Ray’s Correct Toes:
Correction of: bunions, hallux limitus and rigidus, tailor’s bunions, corns, ingrown toenails, heel pain, plantar fasciosis, neuromas, capsulitis, lower leg pain, and runner’s knee. No surgery or medications required!
- Better balance in athletes, Parkinson’s patients, and elderly.
- Decreased injury rates in athletes, due to allowing the body to make better use of natural physiological adaptations that are hampered by current footwear available to athletes.
- Increased performance in athletes (especially walkers and runners) by promoting foot positions that scientific studies have shown to have a 4 to 5% performance edge.
- Improved strength and flexibility of the toes. This enhances proprioception, and subsequently the brain signals the body to move forward more naturally.
- Less osteoarthritis (also known as degenerative arthritis), which currently plagues a majority of senior citizens, as well as a high percentage of the younger population.
We hope you find this information interesting and useful! Thanks for reading, and happy healing!