Award-Winning Study: Correct Toes’ Influence on Balance

Adam Kelly, a researcher currently about to begin work on his PhD in Exercise Physiology at the University of Miami, recently completed the first-ever study of Correct Toes and its effects on balance, specifically dynamic balance—the ability to maintain stability of the center of mass with movement.

Kelly became familiar with the Correct Toes product during his undergraduate education and knew that he would like to potentially study the device once he got to graduate school. His interest in the device along with his knowledge of the prevalence of foot deformities in our society (due to poor footwear choice, design, and fit) provided the motivation for this study and helped Kelly earn his master’s degree.

Read a synopsis of Kelly’s findings, below, or watch the video for a complete presentation of the effects of Correct Toes and minimalist footwear on dynamic balance.

Award-Winning Correct Toes Study

Correct Toes & Balance Study Synopsis:

Study Title: The Influence of a Foot-Toe Orthosis and Minimalist Shoe on Dynamic Balance and Hallux Valgus Angle

Lead Researcher: Adam Kelly, MS, ATC

Study Synopsis: This study sought to examine and compare the effects of a foot-toe orthosis (Correct Toes) and minimalist shoe (Lems Primal 2) on dynamic balance and the angle of the big toe, or hallux valgus angle. Balance alone is defined as the ability to maintain center of mass stability over a support base, whereas dynamic balance is the ability to maintain center of mass stability with movement—a more accurate and relevant measurement for everyday life. The researchers hypothesized that participants receiving the intervention (i.e., Correct Toes with Lems Primal 2 shoes or just Lems Primal 2 shoes alone) would experience improvements in dynamic balance and a reduction in hallux valgus angle. The researchers randomly assigned 65 young, healthy volunteers (aged 21 to 29 years) to one of three distinct groups (the two groups mentioned above and a control group) and then took immediate measurements and follow-up measurements after 4 weeks. What researchers found was that there were significant differences in dynamic balance scores in the follow-up measurements of the Correct Toes/Lems shoes group and the control group and the Lems shoes only group and control group. The effect on dynamic balance was “strong” in the Correct Toes/Lems shoes group and “moderate” in the Lems shoes only group. Researchers found that there were no significant differences in hallux valgus angle between the any of the groups after 4 weeks, though this is likely due to key limitations of the study (e.g., short study duration, young and healthy participants, etc.). This study was the first to show that a toe-spacing device such as Correct Toes and/or a minimalist shoe such as the Lems Primal 2 may cause an increase in dynamic balance (in 4 weeks of wear) in a young, healthy adult population.

Correct Toes & Circulation: Visualized

Infrared Image #1

Have you ever wondered if Correct Toes can improve foot and toe circulation? Well, wonder no more. We were recently sent the above image (along with many others) by a Correct Toes user, Sergio, in Spain, who used his infrared (IR) camera to capture some very illuminating images. Sergio (@metatarsalia, on Twitter) is a certified building energy auditor.

The above image is a fantastic visual representation of the effect Correct Toes has on foot and toe blood flow. The darker areas represent areas of lower blood flow, while the lighter areas are regions experiencing greater circulation.

Here is a short description from Sergio about his IR images of Correct Toes and the feet:

This picture was taken two days after I bought my Correct Toes. I felt so good, resting better since the first day. On the second day, I decided to see what was happening on my feet wearing Correct Toes, so I put on Correct Toes on right foot and not on left foot. I did normal life, and after 1 hour of wearing [the spacers] I took my IR camera to see what nobody can see: the heat. And then I show, clearly, that right foot, the one with Correct Toes, was warmer than left foot. Blood can go to the end of my toes to warm them.

Sergio notes that IR images offer a much more detailed picture of what’s actually happening in the real world, whether it’s inside a building or the inside the human body. He says:

Visual images are what people see and think that everything is normal, under control, but when I turn on my IR camera they see that not everything is right. People can feel their cold toes, but when they see the IR picture, they make the decision to do something. It is like energy saving—many people don´t act until I show them how energy flows out of the building.

Here is another image that demonstrates the incredible effect that Correct Toes has on foot and toe circulation:
IR_3667
This image also shows temperature variations (both within the foot, and between the feet). Both midfeet are approximately the same temperature, 33.2-33.4 degrees Celsius (92°F), and both big toes are colder. Note the temperature differences between the right and left big toes and feet:
The big toe on the right (Correct Toes side) is 3 degrees Celsius (5°F) warmer than the big toe on the left. Also, the temperature differential between the midfoot and big toe is 3 degrees Celsius less on the right (Correct Toes side) than the left (i.e., the right big toe retains more heat due to greater blood flow)!
Below are a few more of Sergio’s infrared images: The first photo depicts both feet without toe spacers. In the second, Correct Toes are on his right foot (left on screen) but not his left. The difference in temperature (blood flow) is evident in all the toes.
IR_3906 IR_3910
Thank you, to Sergio, for providing these valuable images and data. Pictures really are worth a thousand words.

Natural Strides Keeps Georgia’s Runners Feeling Peachy

Natural StridesNatural Strides is a progressive running store in Woodstock, Georgia, devoted to healthy and natural running. We recently interviewed Owner and Founder, Greg Scott. Here’s our discussion:

CT: Please tell us a bit about yourself and your store.

GS: I am a 38 year-old father of 2 and my life revolves around 3 main things: my wife Erin (who is an elite runner), my kids Troy and Belle (elementary aged and active), and our store (Running and Natural Movement Specialty). As such, my life is made up of all things running, movement, and health. Natural Strides opened 3 years ago in September 2011 as the first Natural Running Store in the Southeastern United States. That year I quit my job as a Special Education Teacher, which I loved, for something that I knew I would love much more. As a runner who had rewired my gait patterns and was transitioning into minimalist and natural footwear, I found that there were no Atlanta-area running stores who could cater to my needs. Online shopping was time-consuming and frustrating, leading to many ill-fitting shoes and returns. I knew there was a need for a brick & mortar location that could not just give footwear options to natural runners, but actually cater to them specifically, while providing traditional runners with education and another viewpoint to consider. So I took the plunge and it has been awesome.

Our focus as a store is to provide humans of all shapes, sizes, and goals with footwear and education on natural foot health. Ironically, as the owner of a shoe store I make it a point to encourage customers NOT to wear shoes whenever possible. When they need protection or style, we have options that provide that while still allowing for natural foot function. I am very proud to say that we do not and will not put customers in footwear that does not match their inherent foot shape: traditional, pointed-toe shoes have no place here and we are spreading the word about just how much damage can be done to the body by pointed and heel-lifted footwear. All of our shoes are level to the ground, wide in the toe box, light, and flexible. We offer a non-traditional gait analysis, which we do not use to fit people in shoes (that always seemed backward to me), but more to provide insight and our opinion on how they might move more efficiently. Both Erin and I are certified ChiRunning Instructors, and I am also a Certified Personal Trainer with ACSM. Erin is a part of the Altra Endurance Elite team, and is currently in training for the JFK 50 mile this fall. She manages our finances and her accomplishments as a natural and minimalist runner are a huge asset to our store. We also have excellent employees who walk the walk by running and living in natural, minimalist footwear.

CT: What are the most common foot complaints you hear from your customers?

GS: Plantar Fasciitis/Plantar Fasciosis is by far the number one complaint, and I estimate that 30 to 40 percent of people who come into our store for the first time are suffering from it. It is reaching epidemic proportions. With Dr. Ray’s help we have spread the word to thousands that this condition is preventable and treatable by natural means. Many of our customers, young and old alike, suffer from bunions and hammertoes as well. It is fun to work with these people by exposing them to some strengthening exercises and educating them on the natural shape of their foot as it should be. Correct Toes are the perfect complement to that process. We also have had many customers come in with neuromas, and have had several of them return to proudly say that their neuroma has completely disappeared and that they are pain free as a result of their foot-shaped shoes (imagine that), toe socks, and Correct Toes.

CT: What are customer’s initial reaction when they see or experience Correct Toes?

GS: Every customer that is fit for shoes here will see and experience Correct Toes, so we have seen every reaction possible. Most people are at first confused as to what it is, being that it is not something they are accustomed to seeing in running or shoe stores. But with a quick explanation, most get it and are intrigued. Once they wear the product and try on shoes with it on their foot, I would say that 75% of folks are pleased to have learned what their foot should look like and love the feeling of realignment. There are a few (usually women with a fashion mindset) who are not into it and not willing to give it a try at all, but we are happy to at least have “planted the seed” in their mind about natural foot health.  We have had people say “No way will I wear that,” and then decide later that they will buy a pair. Most often the reaction is very positive.

CT: What results have you seen in your customers by using a natural foot health approach?

GS: This is what makes our job very satisfying. In our 3 years doing this we have seen so many people come back and report life-changing benefits. It is really cool. Most often people are thrilled that their PF went away or are happy that their neuroma pain is gone, but we also have had a large number of folks see and feel the full body effects of setting their foundation right. Knee pain, hip pain, back pain, postural difficulties—all work their way out of their life when their feet become strong and aligned.

CT: Please feel free to share a customer or personal testimonial about recovery from a foot problem, using Correct Toes.

GS: Here are a couple of testimonials from our customers:

“Want healthy feet? Go talk to these guys; they know their stuff. My wife and I bought 4 pair of Lems minimalist shoes and Correct Toes. After 1 week I had no more plantar pain and started regaining feeling in my toes. This was a problem I have had for some time. My wife also noticed she had no more hip pain and could move her big toe. I am now a believer in the flat zero drop shoe with a big toe box. There isn’t any other shoe I would wear after being in these. I haven’t ran in 10 years but now feel like starting after walking in these shoes. Looking forward to new dress designs in this style in the future.”

“Greg, I recently bought a pair of Lems and a set of toe orthotics (Correct Toes) from your store in Woodstock. I also bought a pair of shoes for my 3 year-old grandson at the same time. He loves them! I just wanted you to know my “hammertoe” condition has improved significantly and my shoes feel wonderful, as do my feet and legs!! I am a very satisfied customer and have already been showing my shoes to all my friends here in Orlando. I am trying to steer them your way […] I will be up at the end of the year to purchase at least one more pair for me and I am bringing my wife to get fitted too!”

Thank you, Greg and Natural Strides, for your commitment to healthy running and optimal foot health!

#AskCorrectToes: Heat or Ice for Plantar Fasciosis (Fasciitis)?

This month’s featured #AskCorrectToes question comes from @RyanHisner, who asks the following:

Can applying heat to the plantar fascia (in conjunction with proper footwear and Correct Toes) facilitate healing?

Ryan’s follow-up question is:

Since plantar fasciosis is due to insufficient bloodflow, does this mean that you should avoid icing your feet?

Great questions, Ryan! Dr. Ray McClanahan answers these questions in this video:

Introducing #AskCorrectToes

#AskCorrectToes is a brand new educational program that we are pleased to introduce. You can now ask Dr. Ray questions about Correct Toes and natural foot health topics on Facebook or Twitter using the tag #AskCorrectToes. Each month we will select the top questions and Dr. Ray will answer them on video. Answers will be featured on our blog and in our regular monthly newsletter.

Here is the first #AskCorrectToes video answer to a question about orthotics and Correct Toes:

Correct Toes Play an Important Role in Physical Therapy

TAI LogoTherapeutic Associates Inc (TAI) is physical therapist-owned and operated partnership of unique clinics that aim to be an integral part of an individual’s journey toward positive health and wellness. TAI phsycial therapy clinics are located throughout Oregon, Washington, California, and Idaho. Many TAI practitioners have incorporated Correct Toes into their practices, and we were curious about their, and their patients’, experiences. We recently interviewed Belen Vala-Haynes, PT, DPT, OCS of Northeast Portland PT and Julie Dresch, MS, PT, OCS of Ballard PT. What follows is our discussion:

CT: Please tell us a bit about yourself and your PT clinic.

BVH: I work at a manual therapy focused clinic – meaning that we do hands-on work in combination with a very specialized home exercise program aimed at improving musculoskeletal problems. When we see our patients, we aim to give them a hands-on approach as needed with soft tissue work and mobilizations or stretches that the patient can’t do or that are aimed to progress their body area impairments and carried over with their home exercise program.

BVH: I myself am a physical therapist (PT), and I have my board certification in orthopedics (OCS), and I have been through some specialized training through Kaiser’s residency program in manual therapy. My personal philosophy is: talk to patients, listen what they want to get out of PT and try to give that to them. I think it is really important to explain what I can do and what their role is in their own improvement. I let them know that they need to take responsibility for their injury in order to get better, because they aren’t going to be in PT forever.

JD: Julie Dresch MS, PT, OCS. My clinic is in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. We are a busy outpatient practice with 3 full-time physical therapists, and we specialize in general orthopedics. We have an active group of employees from our front office to professional staff who pride themselves on creating great experience for our customers.

CT: What are the most common foot complaints you hear from your patients?

BVH: The most common foot complaints I treat are plantar fasciitis, post tibial dysfunction and generalized foot complaints from equinus posture in the foot (tight calf syndrome).

JD: We see a great deal of foot and ankle patients at TAI Ballard PT. The injuries are quite varied including plantar fasciitis, a variety of tendon pathologies, great toe arthritis, ankle sprains, and post-operative management.

CT: What are patients’ initial reactions when they see or experience Correct Toes?

BVH: Most of the time they really love them. I have them try them on to see what they do for their foot alignment. Then I make them walk around in them and usually that is where they are sold. The only problem I encounter is the price point – it’s sometimes a hard sell, but usually if they really want to get better, they buy them.

[CT: To address any concern about the Correct Toes price-point, please visit our Correct Toes Advantages page.]

JD: On observation, they look a little silly (thank my 3 year old, for me describing everything as silly!). With a good explanation on neutral foot positions and the effect returning to a nice wide forefoot can have on mechanics, pain relief, and muscle recruitment, they are usually willing to try. I almost always have foot/ankle patients try on our clinic pair (we keep all sizes on hand in our gym for trials), then have them perform balance and gait activities with and without so they can feel immediate changes..

CT: What results have you seen in your patients using a natural foot health approach?

BVH: I have had good results in the patients that work really hard at home to strengthen their feet. The ones that want me to do all the work, never feel satisfied. They may see some quick improvement with wearing the Correct Toes, but if they don’t do anything else they tend to plateau and get frustrated. They have to do the work.

JD: We live in a very educated world, and I think people are doing more proactively to find out about conservative and natural treatments. I have had nothing but praise for our approach to trying to find solutions that our own bodies can be trained to manage.

CT: Will you share your favorite foot rehabilitation tip or exercise?

BVH: I like tibialis anterior strengthening without toe extensor use – so you curl your toes, keep them curled and them tap your foot. I also give a lot of calcaneal eversion self mobilizations and a “Foot Rainbow” – which is a pronation/supination active foot exercise.

JD: Strengthen your hips along with your feet! Never ignore the top of the chain, because we are only as strong as what the foot is attached to.

CT: Please feel free to share a patient or personal testimonial about recovery from a foot problem, using Correct Toes and natural foot care.

BVH: I wear the Correct Toes everyday, and it has done wonders for my bunionette on my right foot!

Thanks, Belen and Julie, for sharing your experience and for all your work in helping alleviate foot pain in the Pacific Northwest!