We don’t sell very many products or supplements in the clinic, but the ones that we do, we really like. Correct Toes is one of those products.
We reached out to Correct Toes recently for an interview in order to learn a bit more about their history, their process, and why they created Correct Toes in the first place.
Why was the Correct Toes product initially created?
In Summary, Dr. McClanahan frequently refers to his experience as a surgeon, specifically with false expectations following a surgery. In podiatry school, Dr. McClanahan was taught that after a bunionectomy a patient would be ‘cured.’ On the contrary, what Dr. McClanahan and his surgical patients experienced was far different. With his post-surgical bunion cases, the bunion regularly reoccurred. At this point, it became apparent to Dr. McClanahan that shoes played an integral role in big toe misalignment. He discovered that instead of fixing this by cutting muscles in surgery, the same muscles could be stretched progressively. Many prototypes later, Correct Toes were developed as a technique to postpone or avoid many common foot surgeries. Combined with naturally shaped footwear, Dr. McClanahan’s Correct Toes are also a way to prevent a multitude of common foot ailments. Dr. McClanahan did a video on this, as well.
Why does Correct Toes help patients with their foot and ankle problems?
Toes establish a natural foot shape and promote foot mobility and strength. Before we jump into foot treatment, here is a brief analogy. For musculoskeletal injury prevention, systemically, healing protocols are very similar. For the recovery of an injured shoulder, we temporarily immobilize it in a brace/cast/sling. Following 6 weeks of immobilization, we remove stabilizing devices and begin to mobilize and strengthen via physical therapy or other such exercises. Initial movement following immobilization is tough, because the soft tissue has atrophied and stiffened.
Correct Toes and naturally shaped footwear addresses a foot injury similar to the protocol for any other part of the body. Following a period of immobilization (orthotics and ridged shoes), we slowly begin to challenge the foot and encourage movement (PT). With slow and progressive use of Correct Toes and naturally shaped footwear the foot strengthens, and the toes align back into their natural position. When our tissue is strong, mobile and lined up correctly, we are less likely to experience imbalance and injury. Foot strength and position also have positive benefits for balance, proprioception, dexterity and muscle length-to-tension principles for the lower limb.
We’ve had feedback from patients about not being able to wear the product in their traditional work shoes – will they still find benefit from wearing the product on evenings and weekends?
Before we answer this question, please keep in mind that the purpose of Correct Toes is to undo the damaging effects of traditionally shaped shoes. Correct Toes don’t fit inside these shoes, because they are trying to counteract the effects traditional shoes have caused to the toes. The two will never go together, because there isn’t room for the toes to be in the natural position they need to be in. This means the more often a traditional shoe is worn, the less impactful the Correct Toes will be. Correct Toes are ideally paired with naturally shaped footwear which is zero-drop, widest at the ends of the toes and flexible. Although we understand that certain professions require special footwear, we do want to mention that that are formal and work appropriate shoes available that have a natural foot shape.
With that being said, using Correct Toes during non-work hours may still have some benefit. Healing times and recovery will vary widely, and can be dependent on the severity of injury, goals of the patient and types of footwear implemented throughout their work day and during non-work hours. We frequently treat patients whom are sponsored athletes or participate in sports like rock climbing or soccer where naturally shaped shoes do not exist. For this population, they may still be able to promote strength in their feet after they take off the climbing or soccer shoes. While utilizing Correct Toes after the work day or following certain athletic activities will generally benefit patients with certain foot ailments, it will rarely impact structural deformity like crossed or crooked toes.
Why Correct Toes instead of a traditional orthotic?
As we touched on in the question above, Correct Toes can be part of the recovery process along with orthotic therapy. As Dr. McClanahan regularly mentions, it’s not an either/or situation. It’s possible for someone to use both orthotics and Correct Toes together or at different parts of the recovery spectrum. Ideally, following any period of immobilization, we begin to align, mobilize and strengthen tissue. For a foot that has previously been in orthotics, it is possible to begin to challenge tissue, encouraging the plantar intrinsic muscles to strengthen, and eventually provide internal support to the foot. This allows the arches to flex and rebound as they were intended to.
What research supports this concept?
For a variety of research articles, please check out the Articles and Studies section of our website or our educational video library. It may even be a good idea to start with Dr. McClanahan’s Foot Strengthening presentation from last year’s AAPSM conference.
We see a lot of kids in our practice and we advise parents on tummy time, crawling and other developmental concepts. What are good shoes to buy for a baby just beginning to walk?
This is great! Dr. McClanahan’s passion is to help with prevention and proper development. The best children’s footwear option is any shoe that does not restrict motion and does not pinch toes. We love Soft Star, See Kai Run, Robeez, MyMayu and Bear Feet. For older children, we are always adapting our footwear lists. Please take a look at our current children’s footwear recommendations. Some of these companies also produce infant shoes, so it may be worth a quick look!
In addition, one of our favorite resources that Correct Toes offers is a comprehensive list of “Approved Shoes.” Unlike traditional dress shoes, high heels, or even some running shoes, these are shoes that allow your feet to function naturally.
Is your chronic heel pain or plantar fasciitis preventing you from running or walking? Have you been prescribed traditional orthotics in the past not see resolution of your symptoms? Correct Toes may be a tool to supplement your chiropractic and rehabilitative care.
Correct Toes answers to our interview questions were provided by staff member Rebecca Shapiro, LMT.
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