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!

Meet Andrew Rademacher, Founder of Lems Shoes

ImageWe’d like to introduce you to Andrew Rademacher, the creator of Lems Shoes—foot-shaped shoes that support natural foot and toe health. We recently interviewed Andrew about his company, his journey as a entrepreneur, and his experience with Correct Toes. Here is what we learned:

Q1. It’s no secret: We LOVE Lems shoes, and we feel very fortunate to work with you. For our readers, can you please tell us a little bit about yourself and Lems.
A1. I founded Lems Shoes two years ago in Charlotte, North Carolina, while working as a clerk in a shoe store. Despite studying Landscape Design in college, my passion for shoes and the human foot urged me to take the leap into footwear and start my own company. Getting back to my roots, I decided to build the company and the brand in the town I grew up: Hermitage, Pennsylvania. Although Lems Shoes is currently just a two-man show, we have become a well-oiled machine in which I handle the manufacturing and design, while my colleague, Steve Perna, handles customer service and sales. I have discovered that building a company from scratch can have its ups and downs, yet as the years progress and the sales increase, it is exciting to be able to measure our progress and look forward to what the future has to offer.

Q2. Prior to the inception of Lems, we implored several shoe companies, both small and large, to design a shoe that’s completely flat, widest at the ends of the toes, lightweight, and flexible — in other words, a shoe that respects natural foot anatomy. While many individuals within these companies understood the merits of our request, their companies didn’t believe in the marketability of such a shoe. In light of these circumstances, we’re curious about what inspired you to start a footwear company, especially one as unique and unconventional as Lems?
A2. The idea to start Lems Shoes came to me four years ago while studying at Purdue University. While on the track team, I consistently laced up footwear the was not only uncomfortable, but looked nothing like the shape of my foot. Ideally, I wanted a shoe that had three characteristics: flat, flexible, and most importantly mirror the shape of my foot. My search led me to countless dead ends, including a custom-made moccasin that met most of my requirements, but which did not appeal to my tastes. After hours of research and inquiry, I came across The Barefoot Running Trend, which was full of many dissatisfied customers that were also searching for a flat, flexible, foot-shaped shoe. Although I found several companies that designed flat and flexible footwear, all of the options I found were much narrower than my foot appeared to be. It was evident that most companies disregarded the true shape of the foot and focused on a narrow toe box, squeezing the toes together inside of the shoe. A foot’s widest point is at the toe, therefore, a shoe’s widest point, should be at the toe as well. I felt it was time something needed to be done, and the shoe I was looking for needed to be created, therefore I took it upon myself to start my very own shoe company and Lems Shoes was born.

Q3. How were you introduced to Correct Toes?
A3. I discovered Correct Toes online as well as Correct Toes’ founder Dr. Ray McClanahan‘s recommended shoe list. All of the shoes Dr. McClanahan recommended were flat, flexible and had an acceptable but not ideal design. It was clear that Dr. McClanahan and I shared the dissatisfaction with the design of a tapered toe box and believed that shoes should be widest at the toes. Although the shoes on his recommended list were the best he could find, he still felt they needed significant improvements. After informing Dr. McClanahan of my ideas and interest to design my own shoes, he exclaimed, and I quote, “Andrew if you can make this shoe that you’re talking about, it will heal tens of thousands of feet and be the first solution to improperly fitting footwear.”

ImageQ4. What feedback have you received from your customers about wearing Lems and Correct Toes, and about the general natural foot health approach?
A4. Some of our biggest fans have been referrals from Correct Toes and patients from Dr. McClanahan’s practice, Northwest Foot & Ankle. These customers understand the importance of spreading the toes and therefore appreciate the unique design of Lems Shoes. We have dozens of success stories from patients that, after switching to Correct Toes and Lems have been able to alleviate a lot of pain that stems from incorrect footwear. After making the switch, one particular customer even called the partnership between Correct Toes and Lems Shoes, a “match made in heaven”. We are humbled and honored to be able to collaborate with Correct Toes in order to cure the chronic foot problems for hundreds of patients that have all but given up hope.

ImageQ5. Nowadays, there are several footwear models on the market that label themselves ‘minimalist’ or ‘barefoot-like’, and yet the toe box is still narrow and tapered, which as we well know, does not allow for natural toe splay. Why do you suppose these footwear companies are so resistant to an anatomically-shaped toe box?
A5. Shoe companies stick to traditional design standards or fashion trends.  Large shoe companies believe, “if it is not broke, why fix it”; therefore they continue to make what has been selling. Unfortunately, narrow, tapered shoe lasts and toe boxes have sold in the past therefore they continue putting them on the market. A shoe with a natural-shaped last is seen as a risky experiment to these companies. It has not been done before, which means there is no proof that it will sell. With that being said, as research continues and foot pain spreads, companies are beginning to experiment by gradually making wider and more anatomical lasts. Although they are beginning to see the advantages of a wide toe box, their developments are extremely gradual and no company has gone to the extremes that Lems Shoes has. A natural, foot-shaped last was the only thing we knew so it only made sense that the shoe we designed had this distinct characteristic. Although risky, we designed our last from scratch, modeling it directly after the human foot instead of modeling it after another shoe company’s design. The risk paid off, our customers have fallen in love with the fit of their Lems, admitting that they have “never worn anything quite like it”.

Q6. Please feel free to share a customer or personal testimonial about Lems and Correct Toes, or a customer’s story about a recovery from a foot problem.
A6. With the willingness to do anything and everything to heal an excruciating bunion, one particular customer decided to purchase a pair of Lems.  After several weeks of wearing Lems Shoes paired with Correct Toes she exclaimed that the pain had completely gone away.  She was relieved that the size of the bunion had diminished and she was finally able to wear shoes again.  After her pain had ceased and she became a convert to our shoe, she called us to personally “thank us for making the most comfortable shoes ever! I’ll never wear another shoe ever again! Please do not change a thing.”

Q7. Will you offer us a sneak-peak of what’s coming from Lems?
A7. At the end of October we will be releasing the Boulder Boot in two new colors, Black and Gravel.  The Black is a vegan-friendly option, with an upper that is 100% nylon consisting of no leather or animal by-products. We are proud of the look and feel of the Boulder Boot and think it is one of those signature designs that has a classic and timeless feel. The Boulder Boot is extremely versatile and can be worn throughout the year.  It is completely collapsible and perfect for traveling or wearing around town. In January we will be releasing the Men’s Nine2Five in black, arguably the first semi-dress shoe that has a wide toe-box and can be utilized in an office or business setting. Finally we are excited to announce that in the Fall 2014 a completely waterproof version of the Boulder Boot will be released.

Q8. Please feel free to share anything else you’d like our readers to know about.
A8. First and foremost, we would like acknowledge Correct Toes, the world’s first toe spacer that can fit inside a shoe and teach natural toe splay! Together, we have enabled hundreds of people to feel how the foot is supposed to naturally function, an opportunity that most people have never experienced in their lifetime. Finally thank you, for giving us the opportunity to share the story of our small but growing company, Lems Shoes.

Thank you, Andrew, for sharing your experience, and for your invaluable role in healing foot ailments, world-wide!

It’s National Physical Therapy Month!

It's National Physical Therapy Month! Show your PT some love!Hey, y’all! October is National Physical Therapy Month (NPTM). NPTM is “designed to recognize the impact that physical therapists and physical therapist assistants make in restoring and improving motion in people’s lives.” We just want to take the opportunity to thank all the incredible physical therapists out there, including the ones who have adopted Correct Toes into their practices.

If you are a physical therapist or PT assistant, please do consider submitting a Correct Toes testimonial in the comments section, below. We would greatly appreciate your positive feedback about our toe-spacing device and the impact it’s had on your patients.

Meet Jay Dicharry, PT.

Jay works as a physical therapist at Rebound PT in Bend, Oregon. He is a well-known author who has penned the books Anatomy for Runners (2012) and Run Like an Athlete (2013). We recently asked Jay a few questions. Here are his responses:

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your physical therapy practice.
I’m a physical therapist, researcher, author, and coach. I guess I come at injury prevention, treatment, and performance training at a bit different perspective than a lot of others. My years of working in the UVA Motion Analysis Lab, and my current REP Biomechanics Lab @ Rebound Physical Therapy in Bend, have really taught me to stop looking at symptoms, and starting identifying and fixing problems. Sometimes these problems require improving mobility, sometime they require improving stability, and sometimes they require improving strength and power. And it’s quite typical that the lines are blurred between “patients” and “optimizing athletes.” If you really understand the biomechanics of the sports they play, and keep your focus revolving on the end goal – which is always helping athletes achieve their goals in sport – you harness their motivation and combine it with cutting edge intervention to produce the best results.

How were you introduced to Correct Toes?
From Dr. Ray himself – he presented them at a conference I was a part of years ago. I was intrigued…..

How do you use Correct Toes in your practice?
In my experience, Correct Toes serve 2 critical roles. When they are worn, they improve the alignment of the toes and directly improve the individual’s dynamic stability. This produces a better training environment to work on closed chain stability and better dynamic stability in gait. But the great thing about Correct Toes is that they also produce benefits when you aren’t wearing them. Since they “cue” your foot to work better when wearing them, and you take thousands of steps daily, they help you “learn,” or even “train” your foot to work better over time.

What results have you seen in your clients using Correct Toes? Which types of people have benefited the most?
Improved recruitment of the muscles in the foot, improved foot strength, and improved passive mobilization of the plantar fascia. In short – a mobile and strong foot just works better.

What feedback have you received from your clients about the natural foot health approach?
Most patients say the same thing when they put [Correct Toes] on and stand on one leg – “wow – I feel 2x’s as stable”  – better alignment improves foot control.

An increasing number of healthcare professionals, fitness educators, and coaches/trainers throughout the world are incorporating Correct Toes into their practices. Do you see a role for Correct Toes and and its associated natural foot health principles in running, athletics, coaching, and physical therapy?
Yes – you train your heart and lungs, you train your strength in the weight room……why do so many folks forget about their feet? It’s your foundation! Train your feet! If people paid more attention to building a better athlete from the ground up, they’d spend a whole lot more time doing what they love.

Please feel free to share a client or personal testimonial, or a client’s story about recovery from a foot problem.
To be 100% honest – I lost count. I use [Correct Toes] a ton – from folks just out of a period of immobilization for an acute injury to tweaking that last bit of performance. They are a very unique product.

Thank you, Jay, for sharing your experience, and for helping keep Central Oregon’s athletes pain-free and strong!

Meet “The Emperor’s New Shoes”

ImageThe Emperor’s New Shoes is a UK-based natural running store that sells shoes and accessories (including Correct Toes) and offers advice and coaching to enable people to run as nature intended.

We recently had the chance to interview the owners of The Emperor’s New Shoes, Sam Murphy and Jeff Pyrah. Here’s our conversation:

Please tell us a bit about yourselves and The Emperor’s New Shoes.
We have both been avid runners for decades – we fell in love with barefoot running and minimalist shoes a few years back, but quickly realised that they were very hard to come by outside of London. People had heard of them, but not seen them or tried them. So we set up the Emperor’s New Shoes as an online and mobile store. We go to races and events to talk to runners about the benefits of natural footwear, and give them an opportunity to actually feel these shoes on their feet. All the shoes we sell fulfill certain criteria – a wide toe box, lightweight, flexible, and low or no heel-toe drop. We only sell shoes that we have personally wear-tested and liked, along with a select range of accessories that help people maximize their performance, such as nutritional products and, of course, Correct Toes!



How were you introduced to Correct Toes?
Sam found Correct Toes whilst researching plantar fasciitis, which she was suffering from for over a year. They immediately struck a chord – ‘it was as if I’d found a product that I’d already invented in my mind!’ she says. She ordered a pair and had such good results from using them that when we set the shop up, approaching NW Foot & Ankle to stock them was an obvious step.

What results have you seen in your clients and customers using Correct Toes? Which types of people have benefited the most?
The majority of our clients have been barefoot runners and other ‘barefoot living’ enthusiasts – mostly those with injuries or foot problems which are hampering their progress. Often, they’ve tried all the usual channels – they’ve had cortisone injections, or tried orthotics, for example – without success so they’ve been searching for an alternative solution and have become interested in natural foot health. Many customers who have purchased a pair have come back to us to buy a second pair for a partner or friend. We’ve also had pilates instructors, personal trainers and yoga teachers receive the product really well and recommend it to their clients. Here is some customer feedback:

‘Correct Toes have made a real difference to the health of my feet. I wear them every day for pretty much everything. I’m especially impressed by how comfortable they are for running.  I recently completed the annual Man versus Horse marathon wearing a pair.  Despite poor conditions – high water and deep mud – I hardly noticed them.  I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them.’  

‘I bought Correct Toes because of bilateral plantar fasciitis. It’s been a couple of months since buying them, and my condition has improved. I am not in pain anymore, and can walk about as much as I want. I have not yet returned to running – I will give it a couple more months and then start running barefoot.’

‘I purchased Correct Toes for a possible hallux valgus and have found them to be very successful in treating my ailment.  I have also been using Vibram Fivefingers, massage and exercises.’

An increasing number healthcare professionals, fitness educators, and coaches/trainers throughout the world are incorporating Correct Toes into their practices. Do you see a role for Correct Toes and and its associated natural foot health principles in running, athletics, and coaching?
We definitely believe they have a role to play in helping athletes improve their foot health – especially mobility and strength, which is often lacking in those who wear ‘traditional trainers’ all the time. They can also mark the end of foot pain/problems for runners – including neuromas and plantar fasciitis – allowing them to train more consistently and subsequently achieve better results. People are always interested when Sam takes off her trainers and has Correct Toes on! We think there is scope for so many more runners to benefit – the challenge is getting them to switch into better footwear, that will enable them to accommodate CTs.

Thank you, Sam & Jeff, for sharing your experience, and for helping keep our friends ‘over the pond’ running strong and pain-free!

A Powerful Testimonial

RS Testimonial 6-13Our own Rebecca Shapiro, an avid athlete, contributed this powerful testimonial after one full year of using Correct Toes, performing stretches, and wearing healthy footwear. She describes her journey toward foot health, illustrating both the benefits and the challenges. Here’s Rebecca’s story:

My feet are no strangers to tight, rigid, conventional footwear. From my earliest memories, I spent my winters in alpine ski boots and my summers in narrow cycling shoes or tapered English riding boots. In elementary school, I remember noticing that my feet were different. My big toes bent toward my second toes, dramatically increasing over time on my left foot. I saw my first podiatrist and started wearing orthotics at the age of 11. While correcting how I moved, the orthotics did not fix my bunion, and they left my feet weak and dependent on support. By the age of 14, I started noticing that I no longer had full sensation in the ends of my toes, especially my left big toe. I had never really thought about this lack of sensation being a problem and blamed the issue on too many cold winter training camps up at Mt. Hood.

While I considered myself to be a competitive athlete in many sports, I was also very clumsy. I tripped and fell frequently, and I could rarely complete any balance or stability exercises. I never would have believed it if someone had told me that my bunion, my neuropathy, and my balance issues were related. I would have laughed at them had they said these problems were caused by my footwear. And I would have been incredulous if they had said that all three problems could be fixed by wearing a piece of silicone between my toes.
 
Skip ahead to present day, and here I am, one year into my transition to Correct Toes and minimalist footwear. I wear Correct Toes 40-50 hours a week, and I’ve transitioned to new footwear across the board, including casual, dress, and athletic shoes. The results of the last year have been so unexpected. Not only has my bunion visibly reduced, but I now have full sensation back in my toes. Visually, my forth and fifth toes no longer rotate inward as drastically. I stand taller, as my arches no longer collapse and pronate as I move. Best of all, I don’t trip anymore! The improvements I feel in my body are now far more important to me, compared to how my feet aesthetically look.
 
The positive changes I’ve experienced over the last year haven’t been without discomfort or setbacks. This treatment path is not easy: it requires a huge commitment, dedication, and most of all, patience. I think it’s important to realize that changing to minimalist, barefoot-like footwear is part of a lifestyle, and that Correct Toes do not provide a quick fix. Change comes slowly, and it’s not comfortable at all times.  During my transition to Correct Toes and minimalist footwear I experienced the usual foot and calf soreness. I also had a short bout with Achilles tendonitis six months in, and now I’m currently rehabbing a knee tracking issue.  


Despite the bumps along the way, I would never go back. Over the coming years, I expect to continue seeing visual improvements in my feet and physical improvement in my body. 



This journey is so far from being over.

Rebecca also speaks in this video, which recounts her story and demonstrates the effectiveness of Correct Toes and healthy footwear practices in restoring toe alignment.