What if there was a way to reduce your chances of knee osteoarthritis and numerous foot and ankle problems? What if this approach was simple, logical, and cost-effective? What if it could address a wide variety of conditions, from joint pain to bunions to neuromas to ingrown toenails, as well as prevent these conditions from occurring? What if the philosophy was completely rational, as well as being backed by scientific study and research? Such an approach does indeed exist, and it is detailed for you in this post.
In some parts of the world people consistently wear minimalist footwear, either going barefoot or using flip-flops or sandals. A very small percentage of this population suffers from chronic foot problems. In the industrialized world, however, the occurrence of foot, ankle, and musculoskeletal problems is significantly higher. What are the causes of this disparity?
The natural anatomical design of the human foot includes toes that are spread and extended. This toe configuration allows for optimal balance, stride, and foot circulation. In geographical regions where primarily flip-flops or sandals are used, foot integrity is maintained throughout life and foot problems are avoided. In industrialized societies, however, where rigid and narrow footwear is the norm, the foot’s natural shape changes over time. This is especially true in shoes or boots that possess tapering toe boxes.
Problems With Conventional Footwear
The vast majority of footwear in the industrialized world elevates the heel above the forefoot, or the ball of the foot, bends the toes upward (a design element called toe spring), and squeezes the toes together. Over time, this combination of design features deforms the foot, leading to a host of foot problems, gait abnormalities, and musculoskeletal pathologies. The long-held conventional podiatric view is that the feet are inherently weak and misshaped, and that they need to be corrected with orthotics or surgery. When these methods fail, the pain is to be managed with anti-inflammatory drugs.
A Unique Perspective
Dr. Ray McClanahan is a podiatric physician who challenges this viewpoint. He has discovered, through extensive literature research and years of clinical experience, that the best way to treat most foot problems is to allow the foot to function exactly as nature intended. Dr. Ray’s approach involves teaching people about foot anatomy and how it affects both gait and musculoskeletal health. He explains how most shoes on the market damage foot shape. 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 Correct Toes toe spacers, a toe-spacing device that realigns, or spreads, the toes to their natural and correct position. This toe realignment improves proprioception, which in turn improves balance and muscle function. Correct Toes are to be worn between the toes in shoes that are wide enough to accommodate them. It's important to choose shoes that provide a flat surface, or base of support, and sufficient room in the toe box for the toes to spread. Test your shoe by removing its liner and standing on it with your Correct Toes in place. No part of your foot should spread past the liner’s edge. If it does, your shoe is too narrow and will not accommodate the Correct Toes appliance.
Examples of Positive Outcomes Using Correct Toes:
- Correction and prevention of: Bunionettes, bunions, corns, ingrown toenails, heel pain, plantar fasciosis, neuromas, capsulitis, shin splints, and runner’s knee. No surgeries or medications required.
- Better balance in athletes, Parkinson’s patients, and the elderly.
- Decreased injury rates in athletes. Correct Toes helps your body make better use of natural physiological adaptations that are hampered by conventional athletic footwear.
- Increased athletic performance (especially in walkers and runners).
- Improved strength and flexibility of your toes as well as enhanced proprioception.
- Decreased likelihood of developing knee and other types of lower extremity osteoarthritis.
Note: Numerous articles have already been written that illustrate the ideas discussed above and provide scientific background. A sampling can found here.