Correct Toes is a toe spacing device that is beloved by many for its ability to address a wide range of foot and toe problems and restore natural toe alignment. The very first of its kind, Correct Toes was introduced to patients and consumers by its creator, Dr. Ray McClanahan, back in 2001 (you can learn more about the Correct Toes origin story here). Since then, a number of other toe spacing devices have been introduced to the market by competitors, many of which purport to deliver the same user experience and foot health outcomes so commonly experienced by users of Correct Toes.
Despite an ever-increasing number of options available to those interested in restoring optimal toe splay, Correct Toes has remained the ultimate benchmark for toe spacers. We receive a lot of questions from folks asking what sets Correct Toes apart from the rest, and we want to share with you here our perspective on why Correct Toes is (and remains) a cut above. Not all toe spacing devices are created equal, and there is a vast difference between all the many options in terms of comfort, durability, functionality, and much more; something we'll explore in greater detail below.
This post takes a closer look at some of the more obvious as well as some of the more nuanced differences between Correct Toes and other toe spacers out there. Our goal is not to deride other options, but we do feel that it's important to share with you our perspective on why the alternatives fail to measure up. We hope this article provides you with a good overview of your options and the information you need to make the most informed decision when it comes to selecting a toe spacer that's best for you.
The Case for Correct Toes
Correct Toes, like all the footgear we carry or feature on the Natural Footgear site, is a top-quality product that offers the possibility of achieving profound and lasting foot health, naturally. It's a device that we ourselves, as well as our past patients and tens of thousands of Natural Footgear customers, use every day and have benefited from for many years. Listed below are 10 ways in which Correct Toes is different from—and, in our opinion, superior to—other toe spacing products on the market:
- Correct Toes spaces your toes *anatomically*
- Correct Toes is designed by a visionary sports podiatrist
- Correct Toes can be worn inside footwear during activity
- Correct Toes is made of medical grade silicone
- Correct Toes is highly customizable
- Correct Toes possesses an elegant design
- Correct Toes helps address numerous foot problems
- Correct Toes works great in combination with other footgear
- Correct Toes comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee
- Correct Toes is Natural Footgear Certified
Let's examine each of these merits first, and then we'll discuss some of the other toe spacer options available to consumers today.
1. Correct Toes Spaces Your Toes *Anatomically*
Correct Toes goes far beyond simply “spacing your toes.” Unlike other toe spacers, which arbitrarily space your toes, Correct Toes places your toes in the correct anatomical position relative to the ground and to one-another. Correct Toes helps you mimic (and, ultimately, develop) the natural barefoot position that is so commonly seen in people who have gone unshod most of their lives. This is a massive difference between Correct Toes and all other toe spacers and is aided by the fact that Correct Toes comes in four distinct sizes (X-Small, Small, Medium, and Large), so you can experience truly anatomical (as opposed to somewhat random) toe splay.
Significant time and effort was spent in the development phase of this device to determine the optimal degree of splay for each toe. Too little toe splay leads to insufficient correction; too much toe splay puts unnecessary strain on your collateral ligaments and leaves your toes vulnerable to injury. Correct Toes achieves the best possible balance between these two important considerations.
2. Correct Toes Is Designed by a Visionary Sports Podiatrist
Correct Toes toe spacers are designed by Dr. Ray McClanahan, a podiatric physician, or foot doctor, who specializes in treating athletes. Dr. McClanahan is an elite runner, expert in foot anatomy and human physiology, and internationally-recognized leader in natural foot care concepts and approaches. In the years since Correct Toes was first introduced, the device has been clinically tested on thousands of patients, with outstanding results. Indeed, Correct Toes has stood the test of time—a testament to the care and precision that went into its original design and the foot health concepts that underly it.
As a passionate and dedicated healer and educator, Dr. McClanahan has a burning desire to share his unique knowledge base with as many people as possible, to help get the word out about natural foot health concepts and approaches. And so he has created an organization called the Natural Foot Health Institute (NFHI) that offers educational courses to practitioners and the general public alike. The NFHI builds on the foundation established by Correct Toes and has the core goals of:
- Educating people about the link between footwear and foot health
- Providing resources that encourage natural foot health
- Developing a worldwide community of natural foot health experts
Dr. McClanahan is dedicated to improving foot health around the world. And, as fellow founding members of the NFHI, so too is the team here at Natural Footgear.
3. Correct Toes Can Be Worn Inside Footwear During Activity
Most toe spacing products are made to be worn while you are barefoot and at rest, or stationary. While this is indeed one set of circumstances in which toe spacers can be beneficial, by far the greatest corrective effect on the toes occurs when you use toe spacers in a weight-bearing situation. This is a key differentiator between Correct Toes and other popular toe spacers: Correct Toes toe spacers are designed to be worn inside appropriately wide toe box shoes during weight-bearing activity, such as running, walking, hiking, and gym workouts. Correct Toes can also be used barefoot around your home or when you are practicing yoga, tai chi, qigong, or other movement arts.
When wearing Correct Toes inside shoes, it's vitally important, in terms of both foot comfort and toe correction, to select footwear that is widest at the ends of your toes. Any encroachment by a tapering toe box on your toes, especially on your first and fifth toes, can be uncomfortable and counterproductive in rehabilitating your foot and realigning your toes. One way to know for sure whether a given pair of shoes will accommodate Correct Toes is to perform the Shoe Liner Test. Also, all the men's and women's shoes we feature on the Natural Footgear site are, for most people and most sets of feet, compatible with Correct Toes. In fact, the ability to work with Correct Toes is one of the most important things we look for in foot-healthy footwear to feature.
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4. Correct Toes Is Made of Medical Grade Silicone
Correct Toes toe spacers are made of medical grade silicone, which ensures that the device is both highly flexible and highly durable. Medical grade silicones are silicones tested for biocompatibility—how biomaterials interact with the human body—and are appropriate to be used for medical applications. Silicone, being inert, hypoallergenic, non-toxic (to both humans and the environment), and extremely versatile, is the ideal material for toe spacers, with the medical grade version yielding an even higher-quality, softer, more comfortable, and more durable medical good. Other toe spacers may be made of lower quality (or even dubious) material that breaks down quickly, is uncomfortable against your skin, causes skin irritation, or requires you to lubricate your toes in order to prevent chafing.
In order to give wearers the best possible user experience, Dr. McClanahan, during the development phase of Correct Toes manufacturing, invested considerable time and resources in tinkering with a durometer—an instrument for testing the hardness of various materials. Determining the optimal durometer hardness/softness for Correct Toes was the key to ensuring the best possible balance between device flexibility (i.e., comfort) and durability (i.e., longevity). The fit, function, and overall feel users experience with Correct Toes is a direct result of the extensive time, testing, and conscientious effort put into the development process by Dr. McClanahan himself.
Proper care and handling of Correct Toes, especially when placing and removing the device, is still an important consideration in preserving its integrity and enhancing its longevity; even the most durable medical goods can break down when not handled with appropriate care and attention. Like any other silicone device that sees heavy use, replacement will eventually be necessary. You may need to replace your Correct Toes every one to five years, depending on many factors, including how often you use the device, the activities you use it for, and the degree of care you apply in handling it. Should the spacers happen to develop a tear (perhaps from an overzealous pet thinking the spacers are a chew toy), it can be repaired using fish tank/aquarium glue/sealant to reconnect the torn bits. You should also apply care when hand-washing the device in soap and warm water.
5. Correct Toes Is Highly Customizable
One of the many things that sets Correct Toes apart from other toe spacers is the incredible customizability built into the device. Correct Toes can be easily modified in any number of ways to accommodate considerations as diverse as bunions, hammertoes, corns, and webbed toes, to name just a few concerns among many. This toe spacer can also be customized to achieve an optimal fit for almost any set of feet, regardless of toe length, toe width, and current degree of toe splay. Material can be added to the device or it can be removed, all for the purposes of tailoring the device to suit unique sets of feet.
For those who need a bit more spacing between the toes than a given size can provide, which can happen over time as your toes begin to adapt to the device and spread out, you can place “shims” inside the device's cavities to help “bulk up” the spacers and enhance your toe splay. We have found that small, rectangular pieces cut from an old shoe liner or insole work best as shims. Each cavity in the Correct Toes device can accommodate up to three such shims. Adding the second and third shims, if you need to do so, is usually easiest with the assistance of a pair of tweezers, as shown in the image above.
In some cases, when worn on bare toes, Correct Toes may work itself out toward the ends of the toes, which doesn't affect the function of the device, but a lot of people do prefer the feel of the device when it sits closer to the base of the toes. To keep the device rooted in place, should you need to do this, you can use thin velcro straps looped through the device's cavities and around the first and fifth toes, as is shown in the image above. This is a simple and effective way to secure the device on your bare toes.
6. Correct Toes Possesses an Elegant Design
Correct Toes' elegant, thoughtful, and clever design helps it stand out among toe spacing devices. The between-toe design, with its interconnected series of pillars and bridges, offers users a sleek, low-profile, and unobtrusive spacer that can be worn on bare feet, over toe socks, beneath conventional socks, and within sufficiently wide toe box footwear. Unlike other toe spacing devices, the individual toe slots built into Correct Toes do not crowd or strangulate the toes, and the four distinct sizes of Correct Toes, along with the aforementioned customization options, ensure that all toe sizes and shapes can be easily and comfortably accommodated.
Also, though there certainly is some subjectivity in terms of what one finds eye-catching, we feel that the minimalist design of Correct Toes is the most appealing of all the toe spacers available in the marketplace, and that other toe spacing devices are either conspicuous in their design (in terms of their shape, bulkiness, color, etc.) or fail to achieve a level of functionality and comfort that comes anywhere close to what's possible with Correct Toes.
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7. Correct Toes Helps Address Numerous Foot Problems
Correct Toes is a foot health tool that's designed to address and prevent numerous of foot, toe, and lower leg problems. Of all the toe spacers available to consumers, its Correct Toes that is best designed—from comfort, durability, and effectiveness standpoints—to do the important work of realigning your toes and strengthening your foot. Here is a list of toe, foot, and lower leg problems for which we've found Correct Toes to be helpful in addressing and preventing:
Besides Correct Toes, no other toe spacing device out there can address such a comprehensive list of foot, toe, and lower extremity complaints in such a simple and elegant way. Correct Toes is a powerful ally in rehabilitating the foot and is the most important part of a natural approach to restoring optimal foot and toe health.
8. Correct Toes Works Great in Combination with Other Footgear
One the key things we look for when including or promoting footgear on the Natural Footgear site is whether or not a product works well in combination with the other items we carry or feature. As mentioned earlier in this article, Correct Toes can be worn inside men's and women's footwear that possesses a sufficiently wide toe box to accommodate optimal toe splay. Correct Toes compatible footwear should also have a completely flat sole from heel to toe to enable natural arch support and a flexible sole to allow your foot to become strong and sturdy on its own.
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Correct Toes also works great in combination with other natural footgear, including Injinji toe socks, Tuli's heel cups, and Pedag metatarsal pads or Strutz foot pads, for synergistic foot health benefits and for enhancing foot comfort. Using the full suite of natural footgear can help accelerate the foot and toe rehabilitation process and help you build your strongest, most resilient foot.
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9. Correct Toes Comes with a 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
We're confident you'll have a great experience with Correct Toes, but if you find that, for some reason, the device is not for you, we offer a no strings attached, 30-day money-back guarantee on this product. Try out Correct Toes for 30 days, modify the device, if need be, to suit your unique toes, and really put it to the test. You can still send it back for a size exchange or refund as long as you do so within that 30-day window.
Correct Toes is designed to be used by runners, hikers, cyclists, and other athletes, and it should hold up to vigorous physical activity. But if your device somehow breaks down under athletic use, we also offer a 90-day materials warranty. Again, this is an extremely rare occurrence, but we want you to feel secure knowing that you'll be covered no matter what.
10. Correct Toes Is Natural Footgear Certified
Correct Toes is a Natural Footgear Certified product, which means that it lives up to our high standards for what constitutes a foot-healthy product. In order to receive the Natural Footgear Certified stamp of approval, a product has to:
- Offer the possibility of profound foot health benefits
- Conform to our philosophical approach to foot health, structure, and function
- Respect normal, natural foot shape and anatomy
- Be comfortable, durable, and foot-health-positive
- Work with the other products we offer to produce synergistic foot health benefits
Correct Toes meets all of the above criteria and clears our high bar for inclusion on the Natural Footgear site. To learn more about the other key merits of this device, please see our article entitled Top 10 Benefits of Correct Toes. This article goes into greater detail about the many ways in which Correct Toes can help you build a more supple, adaptable, and healthy foot.
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What About Yoga Toes?
Apart from Correct Toes, Yoga Toes is probably the most well-known and frequently purchased toe spacer by consumers, though these two devices are vastly different in terms of their fit, feel, and functionality. Yoga Toes arrived on the scene not too long after Correct Toes, back in the early 2000s, and is primarily intended to be used at rest, as a toe stretcher, and, perhaps, as a conversation starter.
From our perspective as physicians and natural foot health educators, here are some of the biggest potential drawbacks we see in Yoga Toes compared to Correct Toes. Unlike Correct Toes, Yoga Toes:
- Spaces your toes arbitrarily instead of anatomically, without much thought as to where each of your toes truly ought to be. This may be especially problematic for your 4th and 5th toes, which can be cranked far beyond their natural alignment with their corresponding metatarsal bones, leaving the collateral ligaments of these toes susceptible to sprains or ruptures.
- Has a bulky design that makes it impossible to wear inside even the widest toe box footwear. As mentioned above, by far the greatest corrective effect on the toes occurs when using toe spacers extensively in a weight-bearing situation. If you can't wear the spacer inside footwear, or use it while walking or running, it's unlikely to have even a modest effect on realigning your toes. Using toe spacers while at rest may be a good general practice, but it's not going to have an appreciable or lasting effect on toe alignment or foot rehabilitation.
- Forces you to stand or rest your foot on a thick bar of material that runs beneath your toes. Besides being uncomfortable, this bar forces your toes into dorsiflexion, which is typically the opposite of what most people need. If you've worn conventional footwear, with its many problematic design elements, your entire life, it's likely that your toe extensor muscles and tendons are rather tight, so using a product like Yoga Toes will only reinforce the imbalance between your toe flexor and extensor tendons, which may manifest as hammertoes.
- Does not offer you any degree of customizability. Every set of feet is unique, and so being able to customize your toe spacers to suit your own feet is absolutely crucial in ensuring optimal comfort and device effectiveness. Yoga Toes requires your toes to conform to the device, as opposed to giving you the ability to manipulate the device to achieve a perfect fit for your toes. It's a significant difference from Correct Toes, which is customizable in so many different, unique, and creative ways. Size options in Yoga Toes are also limited and micro-customizations are impossible, which is problematic when feet come in such a wide range of shapes and sizes and with varying degrees of toe deformity already in place.
So, that's our take on why Yoga Toes falls far short of the benchmark for toe spacers established by Correct Toes. There are other key differences between these two devices, but the four points mentioned above are the most important considerations.
The next question is, how do other toe spacers out there stack up?
What About Awesome Toes?
Yogis sure do love their toe spacers! People, like yogis and martial artists, who frequently move their bodies through a full range of motion, and who may be in touch with their bodies on a more intimate level, inherently understand the value of toe splay. So perhaps it's no surprise that companies have arisen to address that need by providing devices intended to help spread the toes.
Yoga Body Naturals is another company that has gained some traction in the space through the introduction of their own toe spacing device, Awesome Toes. Though the idea and concept behind Awesome Toes appears to be a direct “borrow” from Correct Toes, the product is distinct in appearance from Correct Toes and, functionally, it operates quite differently. Here are some of the major drawbacks of Awesome Toes, as we see them:
- Awesome Toes encircles each individual toe, squeezing it from all directions. Our concern is that the device may strangulate the toes, with possible negative implications on foot comfort, certainly, but also on toe circulation. This is in marked contrast to Correct Toes, which opens up the flow of blood to and from the toes. There are different sizes available in Awesome Toes, but people who have wider toes may really struggle with this device, regardless of device size.
- Awesome Toes is touted as an in-shoe toe spacer, though we would never encourage people to use this device in this way. Though less bulky than Yoga Toes, Awesome Toes still possesses a fair degree of material at the sides of the first and fifth toes (as well as above and below the toes), which makes contact with a shoe's toe box, and the resulting discomfort and toe problems associated with toe box encroachment, all the more likely.
- Comfort is another consideration when it comes to Awesome Toes. We've already mentioned the pinch forces it places on the toes, but, like Yoga Toes, Awesome Toes also has a bar of material that runs directly beneath the toes. For those who may already be uncertain about having material occupying the toe interspaces, this can easily be a bridge too far. Also, though this device appears to be made of silicone, it is not of the medical grade variety, which has implications on foot and toe comfort and presents questions about biocompatibility.
- Like Yoga Toes, Awesome Toes suffers from a significant lack of customizability. There is simply no way to tailor this toe spacer to suit unique sets of feet. How would a person with a hammertoe or webbed toes use this device? How is it modifiable for people who are experiencing toe strain due to the random toe spacing it promotes? Also, for those with bunions or significant hallux valgus, it's important to be able to correct these problems by gradually increasing the space between the hallux (i.e., big toe) and second toe over time; something possible with Correct Toes but not possible with Awesome Toes. What it lacks in customizability, Awesome Toes tries to make up for in stretchiness, but this fails to achieve a sufficient degree of versatility and causes the device to fall well short of being truly accommodating.
In our estimation, Awesome Toes does not rise to the level of a Natural Footgear Certified product, and there is little about the design of this device that speaks elegance, effectiveness, or comfort to us.
What About the Plethora of Cheap Options Available on Amazon?
The old idiom you get what you pay for is never more applicable than when purchasing cheap toe spacers on Amazon. Many of these devices are attempted knock-offs of other (lesser) designs, are constructed from low-grade materials, and run the gambit of ridiculousness from the mildly bizarre to the gimmicky to the truly absurd. Of dubious quality, effectiveness, and comfort, the toe spacer options available on Amazon fail on every level when it comes to properly realigning the toes, rehabilitating the foot, ensuring foot and toe comfort, and restoring optimal foot health. In our experience, we've found that most people who've selected one of these bargain-basement devices over Correct Toes either:
- Have such a poor experience with the device that they swear off toe spacers forever, which is a terrible outcome given the potential benefits of proper toe spacing or ...
- Quickly come to the realization that paying a bit more for Correct Toes is well worth it for the superior user experience it offers
The conversation about cheap toe spacers on Amazon does bring up another important question: Why isn't Correct Toes available on Amazon? A conscious decision was made a long time ago by Dr. McClanahan to not sell Correct Toes in this largest of online marketplaces. Besides Amazon's many predatory practices, a major flaw in the Amazon platform is that there is no way for buyers to directly communicate with sellers (and vice versa). For a product such as Correct Toes, which requires a lot of education in order to use the device correctly and derive maximum benefit from it, this is a total dealbreaker. Those selling Correct Toes must be able to answer any questions that users have in order to ensure a safe and optimal experience with the device.
What About Individual Toe Spacers?
Individual toe spacers have been used in podiatry clinics for some time as a way to prevent rubbing between toes and to treat bunion deformities. These “gel” inserts are most commonly used between the big toe and second toe, though they can, theoretically, be used between any of the toes, provided they are of appropriate width (this is one possible problem with this product; more on this width issue below). While we cannot overstate the importance of realigning your big toe, you should know that there are some serious drawbacks associated with using individual toe spacers to accomplish therapeutic toe spacing. These drawbacks include the following:
- Individual toe spacers easily slip out of place during weight-bearing activity, even when worn under conventional socks, in combination with toe socks, or within a pair of sufficiently wide toe box footwear. It's aggravating to constantly need to reposition individual toe spacers that have worked themselves out of position, and it can be rather uncomfortable walking or running with a misaligned spacer too.
- As noted above, an individual toe spacer that is sized for spacing the big toe will be inappropriately wide when used between the other toes. If you want to use individual spacers to space all your toes, you'd need to purchase four different widths of individual spacer to ensure that all the toe interspaces are occupied by spacers of appropriate width. That's a lot of trouble to go to, especially when the individual toe spacers are unlikely to stay in place anyhow.
- The biggest issue with individual toe spacers, however, is that, for people who have a pronounced bunion deformity, instead of realigning the big toe with its corresponding metatarsal bone, the single spacer actually pushes the other four toes in the opposite direction, causing unnatural bending in these toes and altering normal and natural toe joint mechanics. Indeed, the big toe's metatarsophalangeal joint and the muscles and tendons that surround it can be so tight and rigid in some people that, when the individual spacer is in place, the big toe remains in its deviated position while all the other toes get pushed into unnatural angles/alignment, instead of mobilizing the big toe joint and shifting the big toe away from the other toes (which is the intended goal). This can lead to a variety of foot and toe problems, and it fails to solve the original issue of a significantly deviated big toe.
Individual toe spacers may be great for preventing rubbing between the toes, but that's about the extent of their functional usefulness. Trying to use individual toe spacers to space all the toes is likely to result in the user abandoning the idea of toe spacing as a useful and helpful natural approach to foot and toe problems.
What About Pedicure Sets?
Just, no. Well, yes, for painting toenails, but no for therapeutic toe straightening. Trying to do anything weight-bearing while wearing a pedicure set to space your toes is going to be a horribly uncomfortable experience, and the pedicure set will likely quickly disintegrate in the process. This question does come up from time to time, which is why we felt the need to address it here. We have also heard from folks who have tried to use everything from wadded up tissues to Plasticine to a small roll of coins between the toes to serve as a sort of makeshift toe spacer. Please do not use any of these items or materials to space your toes.
Why Does Correct Toes Cost More Than Other Toe Spacers?
It's true that Correct Toes costs more than other toe spacing devices, and people often wonder why this is so. Here's why: Correct Toes is more than just a premium product; it represents an entire approach to foot care that upends decades of conventional foot care treatments. As such, it's a product that requires extensive educational resources to instruct users about its many applications, uses, merits, and nuances. Indeed, the time, effort, and resources that go into educating users about Correct Toes is substantial, and the cost of the device ($65) is what allows educators like us to continue creating the kind of free content, such as e-courses, blog articles, and educational videos, that empower people to achieve lasting foot health. Also, the Correct Toes company itself pours a tremendous amount of time, money, and resources into providing natural foot health education for users and health care practitioners.
We could, theoretically, still offer other, cheaper toe spacers on the Natural Footgear site, but we feel that this would be a disservice to our customers. Coming from professional healthcare backgrounds (chiropractic and naturopathy), we have an exceptionally high standard for durable medical goods and for what constitutes truly helpful footgear. We feel that we would be derelict in our duty if we offered our customers anything less than the absolute best when it comes to toe spacers. One of our main jobs, after all, is to qualify products based on their usability and effectiveness, to separate the contenders from the pretenders, if you will, and we take that role very seriously.
For those who still feel that the cost of Correct Toes is too high, we encourage you to think about it this way: Correct Toes offers you a method for preventing or addressing numerous toe, foot, ankle, and lower leg ailments without having to resort to some of the most common conventional treatment methods, including custom orthotics, injections, motion control footwear, and surgery. Custom orthotics and injections can run well into the hundreds of dollars (with no guarantee of a permanent solution), while motion control footwear, usually quite expensive itself, is ineffective in addressing the underlying cause of foot issues and only serves to further weaken the foot. Surgery, the most invasive possible approach, easily runs into the many thousands of dollars and may result in a long and sometimes painful recovery period. Compared to these conventional options, Correct Toes is a reasonably priced alternative.
Correct Toes: The Gold Standard for Toe Spacers
Correct Toes, the original toe spacer, is the gold standard when it comes to toe spacing devices. Its elegant design, clever customizability, high-quality construction, and extraordinary versatility make this toe spacer a true standout in the crowded field of competitors. Correct Toes is, in our experience, the most comfortable, durable, and anatomically appropriate toe spacer available to consumers, and it is the most effective toe spacer in addressing the wide variety of foot complaints so common in our shod society. Small in size but mighty in stature, Correct Toes is a smart investment that pays large foot health dividends.
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