Dr. Athena Paradise is a Portland, OR chiropractor (and Correct Toes supporter) known for her intuitive and thoughtful approach to healing and her great empathy and compassion. Dr. Paradise practices at Portland Natural Health in SE Portland. Below is an interview we conducted with Dr. Paradise to learn more about her practice and how she uses Correct Toes to help her patients:
Please tell us a bit about yourself and your practice. I have been a chiropractic physician for 27 years now! My dad was a chiropractor, and I remember watching him help people. I decided that was what I wanted to do, too. Having sustained some serious injuries during a car accident almost 20 years ago, I work with a great deal of compassion, gentle adjusting, and lots of exercise and rehabilitation. I love working with nutrition, and giving people the tools to change their world from the inside out!
How were you introduced to Correct Toes? Robyn Hughes, ND, whom I had the great pleasure to work with for a time. They are awesome and help people with everything from low back pain to foot issues.
How do you use Correct Toes in your practice? Does using the product affect your overall treatment approach? I recommend Correct Toes to many patients. I am all about getting to the cause, not just treating symptoms (although that is helpful short term!!). Correct Toes help cure the problem.
What results have you seen in your patients using the Correct Toes? Which types of patients have benefited the most? Plantar fasciitis, hammertoes, bunion, foot pain, ankle pain, knee pain, low back pain: I have seen great results with all these problems! I work with some dedicated athletes, who are aging and noticing they need more support, something different so that they can keep running or dancing without wearing their body out — Correct Toes have been helpful.
What feedback have you gotten from your patients about the natural foot care approach? I hear from patients that Correct Toes work, reduce their pain and increase their flexibility and ability to move. People love to have tools that work, and that they can use themselves.
Many healthcare providers (e.g., chiropractors, physical therapists, naturopaths, acupuncturists, and bodyworkers) are using Correct Toes in their practices. Do you see a role for Correct Toes and and its associated natural foot health principles in general spine and joint care? Remember the old song, “the foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone, the ankle bone etc.”? Well, it is true. If we address the foundational elements of a problem, everything gets better from the ground up. That is solid healing.
Please feel free to share a patient or personal testimonial, or a patient’s story about recovery from a foot problem. I had broken my big toe as a child, and it never healed well. I finally had surgery when I was 29, and that helped, but I still had pain. Once I started using Correct Toes, my pain disappeared! I could hike, dance, and be on my feet all day without pain.
Thank you, Dr. Paradise, for sharing your experience, and for helping keep Portlanders pain-free and active!
Spending time in nature is definitely a secret to health. To that end, I recommend you take it all in. Literally, right down to feeling the sand between your toes or the moss under your heels. Or in my case, jumping up and down barefoot, in the “icky-sticky-mud” with my 2-year-old daughter, Kaiya, after we have watered our garden.
Whatever your occasion might be to enjoy the rejuvenating effects of nature, make certain not to leave your feet out of the experience. After all, like your hands, feet are specially designed to sense the environment. Your feet can sense differences in heat and cold just like your hands; they are equally sensitive to pain, as you will know if you step on a sharp object that punctures the skin.
Your feet are also capable of adjusting to countless ground configurations while keeping your body upright and moving forward. These natural adaptive mechanisms are sometimes hampered by footwear that is designed to be used for walking on hard, flat surfaces; this kind of footwear restricts movements that are useful when walking on soft or uneven terrain.
Examples include anti-pronation or motion-controlling footwear. When you are on ground that is varied, like many of the trails in the Pacific Northwest, there will be occasions when your feet will need to pronate, even over-pronate to avoid an injury.
Yes, you read that right, in some instances pronation is a necessary protective mechanism.
Consider the example of my wife, Shannon: She suffered an ankle sprain while we were walking on a trail in Bend, because the footwear she was wearing would not allow her foot and ankle to pronate, or accommodate the sloping cant of the trail. Instead, the footwear directed her foot and ankle in the direction of supination, which is a rolling to the outside, the same basic direction that causes an inversion ankle sprain.
I have seen this same scenario too often in my practice, and so I want to educate walkers who are exploring hiking or other off-trail activities. The solution is relying more on the ability of your feet and ankles to sense and adapt to ever-changing ground surfaces. We all have a special joint below our ankle joint, the subtalar joint. If you hold your lower leg off the ground and rotate your foot in circles, you can appreciate how adaptable this joint is.
The subtalar and related joints in our feet and ankles should adapt to changing ground surfaces. Far too often another part of our body ends up making a less-than-ideal adaptation because the majority of footwear being used for walking, hiking, and running activities inhibits the motion around these very important joints.
If you wish to effectively use your subtalar joints while walking, there are several important points to consider: First, your footwear needs to be flexible . This can be tested by grabbing your shoe at the toebox and the heel and giving it a twist. The more flexible the better. Second, your footwear needs to be flat, from the back of the heel to the ends of the toes. Third, your footwear needs to allow your toes to spread wider than the ball of your foot.
Most walkers are unable to spread their toes, because the muscles necessary to accomplish this action have been weakened by the unnatural position created by most modern footwear.
Bear in mind that most American walkers have walked on flat surfaces and worn restrictive footwear for most of their lives. For these reasons, it is recommended that you pursue off-road walking slowly, while gradually easing into more flexible footwear. If you give your feet and body time to adapt to progressive changes in surface and footwear, you can expect to reap gains in foot and ankle strength, as well as flexibility, balance, and proprioception, which is the ability of your body to perceive its environment.
This is the second article in this series by Dr. Ray McClanahan, DPM, Northwest Foot & Ankle
Raynaud’s is a health problem that affects the arteries. Raynaud’s sometimes is called a disease, phenomenon, or syndrome, and it’s characterized by brief bouts of vasospasm, or the sudden narrowing of a blood vessel, which results in a reduced flow rate through that vessel. Arterial vasospasm primarily reduces blood flow to the fingers and toes. Though most people with Raynaud’s experience reduced blood flow to the fingers, a significant number of people with this condition (40%) also experience reduced blood flow to the toes. In rare cases, this condition may affect blood flow to the nose, ears, nipples, and lips.
Raynaud’s attacks limit the amount of blood that reaches the skin in affected areas, causing these areas to turn white and blue. When the involved blood vessels do eventually relax, normal blood flow to the affected areas resumes and the skin turns red and throbs, tingles, burns, or feels numb. In only the most severe cases does Raynaud’s cause sores or tissue death. A couple of key triggers—cold weather and stress—are known for this health problem, though in many cases, the true underlying cause of Raynaud’s is unknown. What is known is that people living in colder climates develop this health problem more frequently than those living in warmer climates.
There are two principle types of Raynaud’s: Primary and secondary. Primary Raynaud’s, also known as Raynaud’s disease, is the most common type of the disorder, and it occurs without the presence of any underlying health problem that could induce vasospasm. Secondary Raynaud’s, also called Raynaud’s phenomenon, is less common than primary Raynaud’s and is caused by an underlying medical condition. Raynaud’s phenomenon usually is the more serious of the two types of Raynaud’s. Most people who develop Raynaud’s phenomenon do so around the age of 40, whereas those who have Raynaud’s disease develop symptoms much earlier in life.
“Raynaud’s attacks” can be triggered by cold temperatures or stress in people who have primary or secondary Raynaud’s. Even relatively mild or brief temperature alterations can provoke a Raynaud’s attack. A person with Raynaud’s who removes something from the freezer or who is exposed to temperatures below 60 degrees F may notice his or her fingers turning blue shortly thereafter. Most people who have Raynaud’s suffer no lasting tissue damage or disability, though people who have severe versions of this health problem may develop gangrene (tissue death) following repeated or prolonged Raynaud’s bouts. Approximately 5 percent of people in the United States have some form of Raynaud’s.
Causes and Symptoms
Physicians and researchers do not completely understand why Raynaud’s attacks occur, but, as previously mentioned, cold temperatures and stress are the two main triggers causing blood vessels in the hands and feet to overreact. Cold temperatures cause the extremities to lose heat, and the body minimizes blood supply to the fingers and toes to keep the core temperature stable. This response is exaggerated in people who have Raynaud’s. Stress provokes a similar kind of reaction, and its effects are, again, exaggerated in people who have Raynaud’s.
There are a number of conditions that may cause secondary Raynaud’s, including scleroderma, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, arterial diseases (e.g., Buerger’s disease), carpal tunnel syndrome, smoking, injuries (e.g., wrist fractures, frostbite, etc.), certain medications, chemical exposure, and thyroid gland disorders. Another possible cause of secondary Raynaud’s is overuse injuries. Workers who use vibrating equipment for prolonged periods may develop a Raynaud’s phenomenon known as vibration white finger.
Raynaud’s signs and symptoms depend on several factors, including frequency, duration, and severity of the vasospasms. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of this health problem, however, include:
Cold fingers and toes
Changing skin color in the affected area in response to cold or stress
Numbness, stinging, or a prickly feeling with exposure to warmth or decreased stress
Raynaud’s signs and symptoms usually follow this pattern: The skin in the affected area turns white before eventually turning blue and feeling cold and numb. Most people also experience a blunted sense of touch. Once the involved blood vessels relax and circulation to the fingers and toes improves, the affected areas may turn red, and they may tingle, throb, or swell. The order of the skin color changes is not always the same between people, and some people who have Raynaud’s may not experience all three colors (white, red, and blue) during an attack.
In some cases, a person who has Raynaud’s may experience symptoms in just one or two fingers or toes, and the location of symptoms may even vary from one attack to the next in the same individual. A Raynaud’s attack can last anywhere from under a minute to multiple hours.
Minor lifestyle changes, self-care activities, and prevention techniques can all help manage this condition. Helpful conservative approaches include:
Quitting smoking: Smoking causes blood vessels to narrow, which in turn lowers skin temperature. Even secondhand smoke can cause problems in people who have Raynaud’s.
Participating in exercise regularly: Raynaud’s sufferers, especially people who have primary Raynaud’s, may benefit from exercise, as physical activity boosts circulation.
Learning healthy ways to manage your stress: Because stress is a key trigger for Raynaud’s attacks, any action taken to reduce stress levels may help manage this condition. Avoiding stressful situations, meditating, practicing breathing exercises, and spending more time in nature are just a few ways to reduce stress levels.
Avoiding caffeine: Caffeine causes blood vessel constriction and can exacerbate the signs and symptoms of Raynaud’s.
Caring for your hands and feet: A person who has Raynaud’s should take special care of his or her hands and feet. Barefoot walking can be problematic for Raynaud’s sufferers and should be avoided. An individual with Raynaud’s should also avoid wearing constricting footwear, rings, tight wristbands and anything else that can compress blood vessels in the hands and feet.
Correct Toes may be helpful in treating Raynaud’s. Correct Toes toe spacers help spread the toes, which helps reduce compression forces on the small arteries that branch at the ball of the foot and deliver blood to the toes. Note however, that a person with reduced sensation in the feet and toes should avoid using Correct Toes until he or she speaks with a doctor.
Avoiding mechanical triggers: Certain workplace tools, especially tools that vibrate, can provoke Raynaud’s attacks. A person with Raynaud’s should consider avoiding these tools to decrease the frequency of Raynaud’s attacks.
To treat an acute Raynaud’s attack, it’s important to warm the hands, feet, or other affected areas quickly. The following can be done to help warm the fingers and toes:
Relocate to a place of greater warmth
Put the hands under the armpits
Wiggle the fingers and toes
Perform arm windmills
Place the fingers or toes under warm (not hot) water
Massage the affected areas
If a Raynaud’s attack is triggered by stress, a person can remove himself or herself from the stressful situation and practice relaxation techniques to help resolve the attack. Biofeedback—a treatment technique that involves relaxation, visualization and other cognitive control methods—can affect body temperature and help treat Raynaud’s attacks too, especially when combined with the warm water treatment.
In some cases, especially with the more severe forms of Raynaud’s, aggressive treatment approaches may be required to decrease the frequency and severity of attacks, protect against tissue damage, and address the underlying disease causing Raynaud’s. A doctor may prescribe medications to help dilate the blood vessels and boost blood flow to the extremities.
Correct Toes March 2013 Newsletter is full of great information about keeping kid’s feet healthy and functional. We wanted to share several kid’s shoe brands that have the characteristics that we look for in healthy footwear- flat, flexible, and widest at the toe box. Check out Dr. Ray McClanahan’s latest video on Choosing Healthy Shoes for Children.
“If you were a kid, these would be the shoes you want. Soft, stylish, and durable — Pedoodles have it all. Every pair of Pedoodles is constructed of premium, top-grade, genuine leather. This flexible, breathable, natural material helps to promote healthy conditions around developing feet.” –www.pedoodles.com
“ZEM stands for the ZONE of ENDLESS MOTION and defines a space where we can discover new possibilities for ourselves. A zone where new beginnings are possible and restrictions are left behind.” –www.ZemGear.com
Soft Star Shoes
“Healthy foot development is at the core of each Soft Star Shoe. Our shoes are designed specifically for natural movement with flexible, wide soft soles and breathable, natural materials.” – www.softstarshoes.com
“From high performance off-road and trail running shoes, to work and kids shoes, VIVOBAREFOOT offers a total lifestyle solution for the whole family and options for transitioning from walking to sports.” www.vivobarefoot.com
Dear Dr. Ray McClanahan, I have never met you but I want to thank you. I’m a post-collegiate distance runner who wishes to continue his career as a competitive distance runner. I enjoy running anything from the mile to the half marathon […]. I was constantly broken down in college and running in what many would consider “pronation control” shoes because I was under the impression that I needed support. The past year and a half I’ve made a very good transition into more minimal based shoes, but recently have been running into forefoot/toe pain. Then I discovered your website. I now own a pair of Correct Toes, metatarsal pads, and [minimalist footwear]. I’ve been walking in them and running a little bit. The pain is gradually going away and my feet are feeling healthier and stronger. […] I think it’s safe to say that your ideas on footwear and foot health are very progressive and forward thinking. You must continue doing what you’re doing and get the good word out. Good ideas will always be the best defense against bad ones. And your ideas are clearly good – very good.
— D.S., Clark, NJ
Click here to read more Correct Toes testimonials!