Correct Toes, a toe spacing device made of flexible and durable medical-grade silicone, is a small but mighty ally when it comes to achieving and restoring optimal foot health. It's a natural alternative to the most commonly prescribed foot care products—such as arch orthotics and motion controlling footwear—as well as surgical procedures, and it accomplishes major foot health feats for a fraction of the cost of these more well-known (and usually, ultimately, far less effective) approaches.
We believe that Correct Toes is the most powerful foot health tool available to consumers today, and we want to tell you why. In this post, we'll share with you the top 10 benefits of Correct Toes toe spacers and explain in detail why this toe spacing device is such a great little helper for your feet and toes. Read on to learn why Correct Toes is, in our experience, not only the best toe spacer on the market but also the best all-around piece of footgear for rehabilitating your feet and toes and restoring natural foot health.
Your Natural Foot Health Heritage
Almost all of us were born with perfect feet; that is, with toes that are straight, splayed well apart, and highly dexterous. Notice that in the feet of the young child above, the widest part of the foot is at the ends of the toes, not the ball of the foot as is so common among shoe-wearing adults. With the proper care and attention (and with the best possible start in life) each and every one of our adult feet would look very much like a larger version of these perfect little feet.
After years or decades of wearing conventional footwear, however, most of us have at least some type or degree of passive toe deformity that alters the appearance of our foot from the ideal depicted above (e.g., toes that are crooked, curved, curled, bent, or stiff, a big toe that deviates toward the other toes, etc.). Most of us need to actively rehabilitate our feet and toes in order to achieve optimal foot form and function, and Correct Toes plays a crucial role in accomplishing this.
Correct Toes toe spacers help you reclaim your natural foot health heritage, and through the process of using this device, there are a number of related positive foot health outcomes that can occur. In our experience, we've found the following to be the top 10 benefits of Correct Toes. Correct Toes toe spacers help:
1. Address foot & toe pain, ailments & deformities
2. Enable natural arch support
3. Prevent overpronation & ankle sprains
4. Improve blood flow to your plantar fascia
5. Restore proper sesamoid bone orientation
6. Give your body the most stable possible foundation
7. Encourage the development of your intrinsic foot muscles
8. Allow you to become the best possible athlete you can be
9. Enhance your balance, weight distribution, proprioception & dexterity
10. Make your feet stronger, more resilient & better able to support themselves
Let's take a closer look at each of these important Correct Toes benefits.
1. Address Foot & Toe Pain, Ailments & Deformities
Correct Toes was designed and developed by renowned sports podiatrist Dr. Ray McClanahan to address and prevent a wide range of foot and toe ailments and deformities, painful or otherwise. Because the underlying cause of most chronic foot problems usually has a common origin (i.e., footwear that prevents the foot from functionally naturally), there is often a universal approach to alleviating these problems too. In our experience, we've found that restoring normal and natural toe splay is the key to addressing toe problems such as bunions, tailor's bunions, hammertoes, other types of crooked toes, hallux limitus, and ingrown toenails, but it's also helpful for ball of foot conditions such as sesamoiditis, neuromas, and capsulitis.
What's also fascinating is that using Correct Toes to realign the toes can help address foot and lower leg problems that seemingly have nothing to do with the toes. Plantar fascia pain is a perfect example of this. As is described in greater detail later in this article, realigning the toes with their corresponding metatarsal bones has a profound effect on blood flow into and out of the plantar fascia and helps eliminate the heel pain that's characteristic of plantar fasciosis. Other lower leg problems can also be helped by Correct Toes, including shin splints and runner's knee. In the case of these latter two lower leg problems, it's the enhanced stability of the ankle complex due to optimal toe splay that accounts for the beneficial effects of Correct Toes.
2. Enable Natural Arch Support
The concept of natural arch support is one of the true fundamentals of natural foot health. This is the idea that your main foot arch (i.e., your medial longitudinal arch), as well as your other foot arches, can support itself if your foot is allowed to function the way nature intended; that is, without any outside intervention—such as conventional arch orthotics or motion-controlling footwear—that acts to prop up the arch or rigidly control the foot.
The conditions that must be satisfied to enable natural arch support are the following: 1) Your toes must be well splayed; 2) Your foot must rest or act upon a completely flat surface (such as in a men's or women's zero drop shoe). Some of the best “support” your foot arch can receive, then, is a level surface upon which to act and sufficient room for your toes to spread out.
Splaying your toes provides a very stable support end for your arch (to accompany the very stable calcaneus, or heel bone, which is the other support end of your main foot arch) and helps provide “loft” in your arch in weight-bearing situations (e.g., standing, walking, running, etc.). After years or decades of wearing conventional footwear with all its many design flaws, however, most peoples' toes need some gentle assistance in order to sufficiently spread out to the point where they can contribute to natural arch support. This is where Correct Toes comes into play and performs so admirably.
3. Prevent Overpronation & Ankle Sprains
Correct Toes toe spacers help prevent both excessive foot/ankle pronation and ankle sprains. Pronation—the complex culmination of three distinctive foot and ankle movements: subtalar eversion, ankle dorsiflexion, and forefoot abduction—is a normal and natural action and is an important part of weight-bearing activities, including walking, running, and stair climbing. A problem arises, however, when this pronation becomes excessive. With excessive pronation, your main foot arch collapses, and your first metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint becomes dislocated (i.e., moved from its proper position) and compromised.
The conditions that contribute to excessive pronation are most pronounced in conventional footwear, which elevates your heel, springs your toes upward, and pinches your toes together. In this configuration, with your heel and toes raised and your toes squeezed together, your foot and ankle have little option but to roll inward, into overpronation. Overpronation is not just a problem that occurs when wearing conventional footwear, however, but also outside of it (i.e., when you're barefoot) because your foot “learns” the shape imposed on it by conventional footwear.
It's only once your foot is allowed to rest on a completely level surface (i.e., in zero drop shoes or on the ground) and your toes are allowed to splay with the help of Correct Toes that excessive pronation is checked. In fact, restoring toe splay through the use of Correct Toes actually has a healthy supinatory effect (i.e., the opposite of pronation) on your foot and ankle.
Wearing Correct Toes also provides a significant degree of protection from ankle sprains. The splayed-toe configuration enabled by Correct Toes is inherently stabilizing for your foot and ankle, and that configuration, combined with getting your foot inside a shoe with a thin, level, and flexible sole, can significantly reduce your likelihood of rolling your ankle. Indeed, ankle sprains are much more common in those who wear footwear that includes heel elevation, toe spring, tapering toe boxes, rigid soles, and excessive stack height. This article talks a bit more about how Correct Toes, in combination with foot-healthy minimalist shoes, can help prevent ankle sprains. And this article discusses how most “ankle support” (i.e., rigid uppers) that's built into conventional hiking boots is both unnecessary and ineffective, especially when compared to the true stabilizing effects that come from lower down your foot, at the level of your toes.
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4. Improve Blood Flow to Your Plantar Fascia
One of the most little-known facts in the world of feet and foot care is that the condition commonly called plantar fasciitis—usually experienced as heel pain in the sole of the foot—should actually be called plantar fasciosis. The “osis” refers to cell death, whereas the “itis” refers to inflammation. Histopathologists have looked at this condition at the microscopic level and have found no inflammation in people who have been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis. What they find instead is dead tissue. We have written and shared quite a bit about this topic on our site, and you can find more info about the commonly misunderstood underlying cause of plantar fasciosis here and here. Understanding this condition is the first step in permanently alleviating it.
The important point here is that Correct Toes helps improve circulation throughout your foot, including in your plantar fascia, by encouraging more fresh, oxygenated blood to enter and by allowing more spent blood and metabolic byproducts to be flushed out. It does this by reducing the tension on your flexor retinaculum—a fibrous band of tissue at your ankle under which various structures pass, including your posterior tibial artery and vein. The tension on the flexor retinaculum is caused by the chronic deviation of the big toe toward the second toe—a common outcome of wearing conventional shoes with tapering toe boxes. By realigning all your toes (including your big toe) with their corresponding metatarsal bones, Correct Toes reduces the tension on your flexor retinaculum and allows blood to flow more easily into and out of your plantar fascia. Improving circulation in your plantar fascia directly leads to a reduction in dead tissue (and the pain associated with it) and allows damaged cells to regenerate more quickly.
5. Restore Proper Sesamoid Bone Orientation
Two small, corn kernel-sized bones, called sesamoids, situated under the base of your big toe, play an important role in big toe function, particularly in improving the ability of your big toe flexor tendons to transfer force from your lower leg muscles to the base of your big toe. Essentially, they function like a kneecap—the largest sesamoid bone in your body, and a structure responsible for improving leverage, strength, mobility, and flexibility at your knee—for your big toe joint. The sesamoids also help bear some of your body weight, which in turn helps reduce undue stress on your other forefoot structures, such as your metatarsal heads (i.e., the ball of your foot) and the nerves and blood vessels that run between them.
Special grooves on the bottom of your first metatarsal bone accommodate your sesamoid bones. Conventional shoes, with their tapering toe boxes, push your big toe toward your second toe and stress your first MTP joint, which forces your sesamoids out of their special grooves and can wear away cartilage and bone, leading to pain and problems at the base of your big toe. Sesamoid bones, like the other bones in your body, can also break, and the tendons that pass over these structures can cause soft tissue irritation and inflammation—a painful condition known as sesamoiditis. Sesamoiditis is most commonly seen in runners, baseball catchers, and ballet dancers, though it can arise in anyone who habitually uses conventional footwear.
When your big toe is properly aligned with your first metatarsal bone, your sesamoids are also properly aligned and function the way nature intended; that is, providing both mobility and stability. The best way to achieve this realignment of your big toe with your first metatarsal bone and alleviate any irritation or inflammation in this part of your foot—as well as to prevent chronic problems in your first MTP joint, such as osteoarthritis—is to use Correct Toes toe spacers to anatomically space your toes. It's a simple and effective way to restore proper sesamoid bone orientation and prevent or address pain and dysfunction at the base of your big toe.
6. Give Your Body the Most Stable Possible Foundation
Your feet are your body's foundation. As with a house, having a solid and stable foundation is critical in ensuring the health and well-being of your (musculoskeletal) structure. Without a stable foundation, you expose yourself to problems further up your kinetic chain, whether it be patellar tendinitis at your knee, osteoarthritis in your hip, or pain in your lower back. A strong and resilient foot ensures that you'll be able to stand up to any physical challenge life throws at you, whether that be on the job, during activities around your house, or while participating in athletic competition.
Increased ankle and knee stability are among of the most significant positive outcomes associated with Correct Toes use. So many ankle and knee issues originate in the foot, especially in feet that are crammed inside footwear that's too small or too ill-fitting to accommodate them. By restoring proper foot anatomy and alignment, Correct Toes helps you reclaim your stable footing and, in the process, helps create healthier lower limb movement patterns. Form follows function is the age-old adage; however, when talking about the effect of Correct Toes on the functioning of your lower body during weight-bearing movement, it would be more appropriate to say that function follows form.
7. Encourage the Development of Your Intrinsic Foot Muscles
Intrinsic foot muscles, all four layers of them, are a group of muscles that originate at your heel bone, attach to your toes, and exist only within the confines of your foot (i.e., they do not cross your ankle). Intrinsic foot muscles (aka plantar arch muscles) are important because they provide dynamic support for your medial longitudinal arch. Most people who are chronic wearers of conventional footwear possess intrinsic foot muscles that are either atrophied or simply not performing up to their potential due to insufficient recruitment and use. Indeed, conventional footwear essentially immobilizes your intrinsic foot muscles (due to the rigid soles and built-in arch bumps or props included in many traditional shoes) and strips them of their vitality and resiliency.
The simple act of restoring your toes to their intended position through the use of Correct Toes can have a favorable effect on your intrinsic foot muscles. With your toes in their proper anatomical position, your intrinsic foot muscles fire more frequently, become stronger, and improve the integrity of your main foot arch. For the greatest recruitment of your intrinsic foot muscles (and to rehabilitate them to the greatest degree possible), you should use Correct Toes in combination with men's and women's foot-healthy footwear and key strengthening exercises to "wake up" these muscles and get them to participate more fully in the act of walking, running, and bearing weight.
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8. Allow You to Become the Best Possible Athlete You Can Be
At Natural Footgear, we believe that every human being is an athlete in one form or another (or at least has the potential to be athletic). As such, it's important to create the kind of circumstances in which athletic success, in whatever way you define it, can occur, and a big part of that is ensuring your feet are up to the demands that athletic activity (running, jumping, dancing, pedaling, etc.) places upon them. Using Correct Toes as part of your regular foot care routine is a great way to build strong, healthy feet that will carry you far in your athletic pursuits and prevent the kind of foot and toe problems that sideline so many active individuals.
For serious athletes looking to eke out a competitive advantage, Correct Toes can be very helpful, too. This flexible, comfortable, and durable device helps your foot become stronger, which allows you to recruit more power for propulsion, and it helps make your foot more adaptive so that you can better avoid sloppy footfalls that lead to acute trauma or chronic injuries. Correct Toes has been adopted and used by world-class runners, basketball players, football players, golfers, and other elite athletes to help optimize performance and enhance career longevity. At the elite level, athletes must pay attention to every facet of sports participation in order to remain competitive and consistently deliver world-class performances. Ensuring that the feet are in fine fighting form and functioning at a high level is one consideration that can have a significant impact.
9. Enhance Your Balance, Weight Distribution, Proprioception & Dexterity
Using Correct Toes to return your toes to their proper anatomical position helps improve your balance and distributes the force of bodyweight more evenly over the surface of your foot. With your toes fully splayed and in line with their corresponding metatarsal bones and your heel planted firmly on the same plane as your forefoot, your foot functions like a tripod, essentially, to keep you upright and your foot and ankle stable. The wider your toe splay, the greater your balance will be. Spreading the toes, especially the big and little toes, can be particularly helpful for seniors or those who struggle with balance issues, and it may even help reduce the likelihood of falls.
Splaying your toes fully helps spread bodyweight over a greater surface area on the sole of your foot and reduces point pressure on just one aspect of your foot (i.e., the ball of your foot). Reducing pressure on the ball of your foot helps reduce your chances of developing common forefoot problems, including neuromas and stress fractures. It also greatly improves foot comfort while standing or during gait.
Shifting gears a bit, proprioception is the unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation that arises from stimuli within your body itself. It's the sense we all possess of the relative position of our body parts in space as well as the degree of effort being expended by those parts during movement or activity. Sensory feedback is an important part of proprioception. Correct Toes helps flatten your toes toward the support surface (whether it be the ground or the bottom of your shoe), and in so doing allows them to participate more fully in weight-bearing activity. This, in turn, enables more of your foot's sole to be in contact with the ground or support surface. With more skin in contact with the support surface, all those many nerve endings in your sole (including in your toes) can do their job and tell your brain how to properly place your feet for optimal low-impact gait.
Finally, a lot of people have, through the prolonged use of conventional footwear, lost the ability to spread their toes on their own, without using their fingers to manually realign them. One of the great benefits of Correct Toes toe spacers is that they can help you recover this ability and gain significantly more toe dexterity as a result. Combining Correct Toes with foot-healthy footwear and key foot and toe exercises is a great way for you to build or preserve the kind of toe dexterity found in infants and in unshod populations around the world.
10. Make Your Feet Stronger, More Resilient & Better Able to Support Themselves
The confidence that comes from knowing that your feet can carry you anywhere you desire, pain-free, is one of the greatest gifts and benefits of Correct Toes. Correct Toes is, most definitely, a foot rehabilitation tool that's intended to make your feet stronger, more resilient, and more self-sufficient, but it's also an important source of hope (and peace of mind) for many people battling foot ailments of all sorts.
For those who have dealt with ongoing foot problems that reduce quality of life and prevent participation in cherished athletic or leisure activities, the possibility of finally overcoming these problems for good is a true cause to celebrate. With time, patience, diligence, and dedication to Correct Toes use, most people, most of the time, can build sturdy, resilient feet that resist injury and stand up to all of life's many challenges throughout all stages of life.
Correct Toes: A True Companion on the Path Toward Optimal Foot Health
All of the above benefits—combined with the fact that Correct Toes is comfortable, customizable, and can be worn inside men's and women's wide toe box footwear while weight-bearing during regular activities or athletics for the greatest corrective effect—make this device indispensable when it comes to cultivating or preserving foot health and function. If you haven't already done so, consider picking up a pair or two of Correct Toes for yourself or a loved one; it's an investment that will pay tremendous foot health dividends.
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Additional Correct Toes Resources
Here is a list of other helpful Correct Toes resources that we have available on our website:
If you have any questions about Correct Toes toe spacers, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're happy to help however we can!