Dr. Ray McClanahan, DPM, designed Correct Toes help the foot rehabilitate from the negative effects of conventionally shaped footwear. The device, made of soft, flexible silicone, encourages the toes back into their natural alignment found at birth. With progressive and consistent use while active and weight bearing, toes align and feet strengthen, restoring your foot’s original position and function.

Listen to this episode of The MOVEMENT Movement with Dr. Ray McClanahan about how problems with your feet, back, and hips can be caused by your toes.

Here are some of the beneficial topics covered on this week’s show:

– How wearing minimalist shoes or going barefoot can alleviate or prevent various foot-related issues.

– Why it’s important for runners to work on increasing their range of motion to promote healthier foot function.

– How the widest part of your foot should be your toes, not the ball of your foot.

– Why running shoes with a significant heel drop can shorted the Achilles tendon and affect muscle activation and overall foot function.

– How studies have shown that orthotics can weaken intrinsic foot muscles causing problems for the foot.

 

Connect with Ray:

Guest Contact Info

Instagram
@correcttoes

Facebook
facebook.com/correcttoes

Links Mentioned:
correcttoes.com

Connect with Steven:

Website

Xeroshoes.com

Twitter
@XeroShoes

Instagram
@xeroshoes

Facebook
facebook.com/xeroshoes

Episode Transcript

Steven Sashen:

Could any problem that you’ve ever had with your feet, with your ankles, with your knees, with your hips with your back just be because of something going on with your toes? I don’t know, but we’re going to find out on today’s episode of The MOVEMENT Movement, the podcast for people who want to know the truth about what it takes to have a happy, healthy, strong body. Feet first, because that is your foundation. We’re going to debunk the mythology, the propaganda, sometimes the outright lies that people have told you, about what it takes to run or walk or play or dance or climb enjoyably and healthfully. And that’s why we’re here.

I’m Steven Sashen, your host for The MOVEMENT Movement podcast. If you want to engage with us, please do go to jointhemovementmovement.com, where you’ll find all the places you can find the podcast on iTunes and on Google Play. You’ll also find out where you can see this video on YouTube if you’re not already there. And make sure to do that sharing, liking reviewing, click the bell if you’re on YouTube, so you hear about upcoming podcasts. But the shorter version is we are trying to make natural movement, the obvious better healthy choice, the way natural food currently is and we need your help to do that. This is a grassroots thing, so if you want to be part of the tribe, please subscribe.

And why don’t we jump right in? I want to say hello to Dr. Ray McClanahan. Say hi, Ray.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Hi, Steven.

Steven Sashen:

With our headphones. And Ray, again, I don’t like doing intros for other people, so what would you like to tell human beings about who the hell you are and why you’re here?

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Yeah, I’m a natural sports podiatrist and I have a passion for helping people heal naturally. I’m classically trained, but I found that a lot of the financial problems that people experience can actually be alleviated if not completely prevented, just with proper footwear.

Steven Sashen:

So, Ray, you and I have been on numerous email volleys and chains for years, but this is literally the first time that we have done this. So love it, man.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Yeah, yeah, thank you.

Steven Sashen:

So, what a treat. It’s really funny. So, there was one email volley we were on that included Irene Davis and it was like years again. And I said, “We have to do an introduction. We got to say hi. We got to get on Skype.” And the first time she showed up on Skype, I went, “What up, babe?” And here we are. So, what up, Ray?

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

What up, bro?

Steven Sashen:

So, before we get into what I said in my intro, about toes being the problem for everything, we always like to start with a movement because we are The MOVEMENT Movement, podcast and rumor has it you have something that you want to share with the human beings who are listening.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

You bet. I have a stretch called the toe extensor stretch that probably could be effective for all of your audience, Steven. Up until your footwear company came about and some of the other natural footwear companies came out, everybody was wearing footwear that held our toes above the support surface. It’s a feature called toe spring. So, unfortunately, the tendons on the top of our foot oftentimes become tight and contracted, so I have a stretch that’s really, really good at helping that.

Steven Sashen:

Let’s do it.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, not sure how I’m going to be able to show you this.

Steven Sashen:

Show it to me. This is going to be good. All right, so keep in mind, there are some people who are in their cars and some people who are just listening, so you’re going to have to describe it. But I say go for the video, too, if you want to.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

You bet. So, essentially, what this stretch is doing is it’s putting your toes in exactly the opposite position from what most conventional footwear will hold it in. So, I’ll actually show from my hand first, most conventional footwear has our heel up and our toes up, so tendons to the top of the foot get tight. So, the stretch that we’re going to do is to bend our toes in under. And I’m going to see if I can tilt the camera here down. I don’t know if this is going to work or not.

Steven Sashen:

Not bad. Yeah, there you go.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

I mean, you let me know if you can see what I’m doing here.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah, I can see your left foot. I can’t see your right foot.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Okay.

Steven Sashen:

Dude, you’re not wearing a pair of Xero shoes. What’s up with that?

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

I got them, brother. I got them.

Steven Sashen:

I know you do.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

One of the problems with my work, Steven, is I’m constantly wear testing all different kinds of shoes. I have to say you guys are definitely up there in my top favorites. So, I’m not sure if I was able to show that to the group or not, but-

Steven Sashen:

Do it again, actually and show because I got what you’re doing, but since I didn’t see the starting position, it was hard to tell what the end position was.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Yeah, so the end position is basically you’re trying to create greater toe flexion at the-

Steven Sashen:

Got it.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

The ball of your foot. Most adult Americans, especially runners, will have a hard time getting more than about 5 to 10 degrees.

Steven Sashen:

So-

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

And you want to work your-

Steven Sashen:

So, basically, just try and get the tops of your toes on the ground and then try and get your heel down as much as you can as you work on that stretch.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Exactly. Yeah. And most people will get a cramp in the arch muscles because most of our arch muscles are long and weak.

Steven Sashen:

Interesting.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

So, this stretch puts them into their proper length-to-tension relationship and the brain thinks it’s time to contract, but most people are weak, so it will feel like a cramp instead of a contraction.

Steven Sashen:

So, how long should someone hold that stretch and how often should they do it?

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

We actually have people do it for about 20 to 30 seconds the first day and then increase 10 to 15 seconds a day to where a point where they can get up to four or five minutes without getting a cramp.

Steven Sashen:

It’s funny. I’m going to say something funny about this, I just realized. Do you recommend doing this standing, sitting, or both?

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

I recommend standing because a lot of the foot strengthening exercises that people are studying right now, we want to engage our butt muscles at the same time we engage our intrinsics. So, if you’re doing this stretch or you’re doing short foot or you don’t toe spreading exercises, it’s good to actually activate your gluts at the same time because-

Steven Sashen:

It’s funny. I’m going to do this. I’ll probably do this in an upcoming podcast, but I want to make a video just showing how if you’re just standing and you just tighten your butt, what that does to your arch, which just puts an arch in your foot. And most people don’t have any frame of reference that what’s going on in your foot could be starting from your butt.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Absolutely.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah, it’s fascinating.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

It is.

Steven Sashen:

So, the thing that you reminded me of, so I was an all-American gymnast way back when, and when I got into gymnastics, my coach made the comment that pointing your toes is, of course, a very big deal in gymnastics. And just to get into the habit of doing that, he would sit during all of his classes, doing what you just described, with his toes underneath working on that stretch. So, needless to say, once he said that, we all started doing that. So, I spent the majority of my junior high school and high school years, sitting with my toes curled under like that and doing that stretch.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

No wonder you’re such an awesome athlete.

Steven Sashen:

That’s it. It has nothing to do with genetics or anything else. It’s just from sitting with my toes underneath my feet. So, so, so, in the intro, I made the comment that, “Hey, maybe your toes are the cause of all your problems,” including having a high mortgage and your kids not getting into the college of their choice, and maybe your oil pan leaking in your car. Maybe not the middle one, but definitely the oil pan leaking. So, that was a setup for you because you are famous for a product called Correct Toes. Would you like to talk… I’m curious, because I don’t even know this, the answer to this? How did that come about? And tell people, well, tell people what the hell they are and how this came about. And what you’re seeing as a result of letting people use this product?

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

They are a medical grade silicone toe separator with a greater dimension between the first and second toes and the fourth and fifth toes.

Steven Sashen:

Sorry. When you say medical grade silicone, all I can think of is that you remove these from boobs?

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Same kind of silicone. Yeah. Same kind. In other words, biologically our body is not supposed to react negative to it. But essentially a little bit of the backstory. I wear my running shoes way too small for way too many years and I got a bunion. And for the audience, what that is, is it’s a dislocated big toe and I also got a hammer toe. So, my second toe…

Steven Sashen:

Wow.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

… is sitting on top of my big toe, and my knees hurt my back hurt. I was taking Advil and getting cortisone shots and so forth. And then I read the work of Dr. William Rossi, who’s on my website. I don’t know if you’ve come across Dr. Rossi’s stuff or not?

Steven Sashen:

No.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

He’s fascinating, Steven. You definitely need to look into him. He traveled all over the world. He did comparative analysis between barefoot cultures and our culture. In other words, we wear shoes with heels, we wear shoes that have a pointed toe box, we wear shoes with a toe spring, so we essentially change our foot structure of the course of our lifetime. I didn’t learn this in podiatry school, I learned this from this Dr. William Rossi.

So, point being, I didn’t want to have an operation on my own foot, so I invented this Correct Toes. And essentially, for the audience members, a lot of adult Americans are not familiar with the notion that our feet naturally are supposed to be widest at the ends of the toes, not at the ball. And so, we look at each other’s feet. Our each other’s feet look widest at the ball, so we don’t think anything of it. But essentially, if we can position our feet naturally, which your company allows us to do, some very wonderful things happen. And a lot of it has to do with achieving that natural foot state. A lot of times that will happen spontaneously, just getting people into Xero shoes or some flatter shoes or going by foot more often, the feet want to go back to that natural presentation. What Correct Toes is, is it’s a medical device that tries to augment that or accelerate that process. It creates better balance, it helps us strengthen our feet, it reverses bunions and hammertoes and tailor’s bunion, so that’s what that’s about.

Steven Sashen:

Sweet. The point that you made about what you did and didn’t learn in Podiatry school is the thing that’s so fascinating to me. It’s like all of this information, those of us who are fans of natural movement, none of us learned it in school, whichever school we went to or whichever thing we went to. I did undergraduate research when I was at Duke on cognitive aspects of motor skill acquisition. And just this whole thing of learning how it is that we learn to move differently, no one talks about that. No one talks about how if you’re trying to develop a new movement pattern at first it’s going to feel “frustrating,” because that’s just the phenomenon of your brain laying down new neural pathways. And many people take that as like, “Oh, that doesn’t work. It’s annoying.” It’s like, “No, no, that’s called learning, baby.”

So, just give it some time, you’ll see that when you take a couple of days off and try again, it will be better, because that’s how learning happens. It happens during the rest period, the integration period. I mean, it’s incredible to me that we just have this completely warped idea of what comfort is, what natural movement is, what learning is. And so, and you’re dealing with this on a daily basis. What’s your practice like? Who are you seeing mostly?

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Yeah. I mostly see competitive athletes and mostly runners. I also see some race walkers and hikers, but I’d say overwhelmingly, I’m the guy that people seek out if they’re runners who are looking for natural foot health.

Steven Sashen:

Got it.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

So, I spend about an hour with people, I teach them about the footwear. Like I shared a moment ago, most people have no idea that wearing an elevated heel isn’t healthy or having their toes up in the air isn’t healthy or having their toes pinched together isn’t healthy. So, this is what we do. We basically educate people, Steven. I hardly ever do anything to people anymore. I just talk to people about their shoes.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Seriously. I know you’ve seen it. We get people in the better footwear, they start moving better, life gets better for them.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. Well, you know the story of how shoes came to have the shape that they have now? Yeah? Do you know this one?

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

I think I know elements of it. I’ve heard, I dove deep about a month or two ago. I did an article for a podium runner with Jonathan Beverly on the pointed tapered toe box.

Steven Sashen:

What did you find in that one? Because that’s a slightly different thing than the part I’m thinking of.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Yeah, we found a bunch of different things. We obviously found out it had nothing to do with health or…

Steven Sashen:

No.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

… being naturally positioned. It had everything to do with royalty and having certain a look, and it’s really funny. They back in the day, they had these long, long pointed toe boxes and the longer, the more famous you were, so they actually passed laws against people who were in poverty from having these long toe boxes. So, it was all fashion and what the average adult American today doesn’t realize is that most athletic shoes are fashion athletic shoes.

Steven Sashen:

Right. Well, I’m remembering I grew up outside of Washington, D.C. and we would spend many holidays in Williamsburg, Virginia. And I… God, I hadn’t thought about this in a long time. And when you go to Williamsburg, there’s all these things they’re showing you, colonial arts and crafts and artisanal things that they did. And I remember hanging out with a shoemaker and I was totally into the shoemaking thing. And one of the reasons that they were making pointed toed shoes is that they didn’t make lefts and rights, so they had to make something that was symmetrical, so it didn’t matter which foot you put it on. It would eventually mold a little bit to your foot because they were using leather. But regardless, I mean, they were doing it, in part because for the symmetry for the ease of production. And in part also, because people were riding horses a bunch and they want to be able to get in stirrups easier.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Fascinating.

Steven Sashen:

I’m not sure when the last time anyone that you or I know got into stirrups and needed pointy shoes for doing that. And then had to be prepared at any moment to jump on a horse.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Exactly.

Steven Sashen:

Out here in Colorado, maybe that’s appropriate. But I’ve been out here 26 years and I’ve never had an occasion where I was thinking, “I really need to get on a horse.” So, I am trying to add horsepower to my car, but that’s a completely different thing, I’m told.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Indeed.

Steven Sashen:

So, that’s really fascinating. Well, do you know about the whole elevated heel thing and where that came from?

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

I’ve heard a couple of different things. I’ve heard that apparently there were some short kings that married taller women. And so, they had their cobbler make high-heeled, so that they could be as tall as their queen. I’ve also heard that the sewage used to run down the streets in some of these cities, so that they would elevate themselves above the streets, so they didn’t step in the sewage. So, I’ve heard a couple of different features. I’m not sure exactly what’s true and what’s not.

Steven Sashen:

Well, the athletic shoe one, the story that I’ve heard from a couple of people who were there at the time, is that there were some, I think sports podiatrists. Don’t hold me to the exact title that they had it. Let’s call them sports podiatrists for the sake of argument. Actually, when Irene and I were having this conversation on our podcast, she actually had the names of these three guys, who were in the same building that Bill Bowerman was in when they were getting Nike started.

And he came in saying, “We’re getting these guys, we’re getting Achilles tendonitis. What do you recommend?” They said, “Well, clearly, they’ve been wearing high-heeled dress shoes, so their Achilles are shortened and so, we need to make high-heeled running shoes to accommodate their Achilles. So, put some foam in there, because that will also help with the cushioning when they’re landing on their heels the way they’re walking.” And so, that’s what they did. Sold really, really well because Nike was pushing it hard and the footwear industry is a bunch of copycats. And so, that became fundamentally the ubiquitous design.

Now, one of these same guys was at a track meet with a friend of mine, who was at Nike for a long time. And my friend said, “So, your design has become the ubiquitous design for athletic footwear. What do you think?” And the response was, “Biggest mistake we ever made.”

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Indeed, I couldn’t agree more. There’s, I’ve got a good study on my website where they took two groups of ladies. One group of ladies was on a 2-inch heel and a lot of running shoes are 1-1/2-inch heel. They took another group of ladies and they had them go in flat shoes and then, they did an MRI of their calf muscles. And the lady who was in the 2-inch heel group was 13% shorter.

Steven Sashen:

That’s interesting. There’s a study. I don’t know if it came out yet. Irene mentioned it at a presentation she did recently where they just took regular, I think, I don’t know if it was runners or not, but just people who had no problem, no presenting symptoms of any sort. And they just put insoles in their shoes. They just put an orthotic in their shoe and in some very short amount of time. Let’s call it 12 weeks, but don’t hold me to it. An MRI revealed that their intrinsic foot muscles, the diameter decreased by up to 17% in that amount of time.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Yeah, it doesn’t surprise me at all.

Steven Sashen:

No, it doesn’t. And I will admit, what I’d like to say is imagine what that will do for the rest of your life. And I will concede that I’m being misleading when I say that, because what it implies is that it will just keep going down forever, which is, of course, not the case. It will go down and then plateau, but it’s fun to say, just imagine because it is true, it will just worse, too, but you know.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

You might be interested to know that they did a study on people with chronic, what we used to call, plantar fasciitis. You and I and the group did a knee book a while ago, and my favorite the term plantar fasciosis, but they actually studied, MRI-studied, these people who have chronic plantar fasciosis and their plantar intrinsic muscles are weak.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah, what a shock. It’s again, it’s just amazing to me that, so I think I might have said this at the American College of Sports Medicine event a year ago. I said, “People keep asking me to show the proof about natural movement.” And I go, “Wait, wait. You need me to prove that using your body is good, because it will stay or get stronger and not using it is bad? You want me to prove that?” And yet, that’s what we’re having to do.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Yeah. Absolutely right. Same thing with the footwear. People want us to prove why natural footwear is better. And as you know what we’ve been wearing for the last 30 years is really bad.

Steven Sashen:

Unnatural.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Unnatural is bad.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah and we know we’ve been… the oldest footwear that we found is, I think, it was sagebrush sandal that came from Oregon and so, this is 10,000 years ago. So, for 99.95% of, let’s call it recordable human history, people have been wearing shoes that were just, just enough to protect their foot and then something to hold it on. And suddenly, we’re the intervention?

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Exactly.

Steven Sashen:

It’s incredible. Well, let me ask you this question. I asked this to Mark Cucuzzella, I think I asked it to Irene as well. What we’re doing, people like you and me and a number of others, in this whole idea of making natural movement the obvious better, healthy choice, we’re fighting against 50 years of marketing and propaganda and sometimes flat out lies. What do you think it’s going to take or what do you think it might take to get people to wake up to the reality that natural is better than trying to immobilize your foot and put it in a cast or as we affectionately refer to that as a foot coffin?

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

What I’ve seen in 25 years is I think it requires people to be in pain. I don’t think it’s even on people’s radar. It certainly wasn’t on my radar early in my running career until I started breaking down. And then I started wondering, “Well, why am I breaking down?” So, I think people have to suffer personally a little bit before they can actually think deeper about really where’s the problem coming from.

Steven Sashen:

It’s funny. Human beings, as a group, we don’t tend to take action until we’re back up against the wall and something is really painful and that’s problematic. I’m hoping that we don’t have to go that far. On the other hand, one of the things when people ask me what I do for a living, I go, “Well, let me ask you a question. At the end of the day, do your feet feel better than they did at the beginning of the day?” And I’ve never had anyone say yes. And so, I might argue that almost everybody is already in pain of some sort, but either they don’t know that that’s not normal or okay or that there’s an option or they found a way to mitigate it to a certain extent where they think it’s okay, like they’ve got some heavily padded insole. That can be helpful.

I mean, if you basically put your foot on a Tempur-Pedic mattress and don’t use it. That can be okay. You can get around. You can think that it’s comfortable and you’re getting progressively weaker. And you might end up doing what my dad did, which is having no balance, no foot muscle strength, tripping over a little ledge, falling down, breaking stuff and dying two weeks later. But, so I’m going to contend that there are enough people who are already in enough pain, but that they don’t know there’s an option or they don’t know that what they’re doing is not normal.

I had a weird variation that I have a compromised spine. I’ve got, for people who care, a grade 2 L5-S1 spondylolisthesis. My spine is not working well and therefore my sciatic nerve is not working well. The number of things that I thought were normal, because I’ve just been living with it for 30 years, is like really high. When the doctor said, “Yeah, that’s not the way that’s supposed to happen.” It’s like, “Really? You mean when you’re washing the dishes you’re not supposed to double over in pain when you’re done? I had no idea.”

So, let’s assume for the fun of it then, that people are, that there’s a critical mass of human beings who are having enough problems. I mean, look, the orthotics industry is a multibillion dollar industry. Dr. Scholl’s is a multibillion dollar company. Clearly, we’ve got people in pain. So, assuming that that’s true, then what do you think would be the next thing that would have to happen to get people out of this trance?

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Yeah. So, I think really, one of the things that needs to happen is we need to get the education to the parents, to the moms and the dads. I appreciate what you said a moment ago. There’s lots of misinformation out there. In fact, part of the reason why we have to spend an hour with people is to try to counteract all the other voices in their head or the voices of their other podiatrist telling them they need supportive shoes and they need their orthotics and so forth. So, I think we need to get to the parents, I think people need to suffer, like we just mentioned a moment ago, and I think also guys like you and I and Mark and the rest of us need to keep working to reach those one by one by one. I want to believe that we’re going to achieve a critical mass at some point.

Steven Sashen:

It’s sort of inevitable if we keep growing, but back to how you work with people when they come in. When they have these ideas and I hear all the time, “Well, I need arch support, because I have flatfeet or I need arch support, because I have high arches,” which cracks me up. It’s like, “So, you actually think it’s the same intervention for two totally different issues? That alone should tell you that it’s bullshit.”

But regardless, so people, they have these ideas, “I need cushioning, I need our support, I need motion control, I pronate,” or whatever they think how. Since we know another thing about human beings is if they have a belief, just presenting them conflicting information or contradictory information typically doesn’t work. What’s been your experience with that or what are the conversations you have to educate people and get them to have that aha moment?

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Yeah, the most powerful piece of that conversation, Steven is to have people stand up in front of me and I hold their big toe in shoe position, which is tapered. Meaning that the bump on the side of the big toe is prominent, so the big toe is pushing over towards the second toe.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. You’re pushing the big toe in. Okay.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Yeah. And I show them how much they could pronate there, then I pull their big toe out into natural position then I ask them to pronate again. All but the most hyper mobile people will pronate to neutral and then they’ll stop.

Steven Sashen:

Interesting.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Versus having their toe in an unnatural position, they’ll pronate more than they should. So, this whole pronation paradigm is not only deeply flawed and people are starting to recognize it, it can be immediately intervened on just by changing the big toe position. So, we were joking around before the podcast about, “What if your back hurts, your hips hurt, your knee hurt, your foot hurts…

Steven Sashen:

All because of your toes.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

“… it’s really down to your toes.” I honestly believe that’s not farfetched. I honestly believe it really does break down to our big toes and the position of our big toe. It couples right up the chain. And people can see this. When they hold their big toe in natural position, they pronate to neutral, their knee is on top of their foot, their hip is not internally or externally rotated. So, really, the toes are where it’s at, in my opinion.

Steven Sashen:

Well, there’s two things. One, obviously, if you move your big toe, so that it’s pushed in towards your other toes, then you can’t use your arch naturally. If you can’t use your arch naturally, again, that’s going to roll upward. I think Sarah Ridge at BYU, I don’t know if she did this study. So, I hope I’m not talking out of school or pre-release of some information. But I remember talking to her, she said she was doing a study or looking into doing a study that seemed to show that by just moving your big toe in, pushing your big toe in the way most shoes do, immediately cuts off blood flow into your foot. Which again, not surprising, but it’s one of those things where people are like, “What?”

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Yeah. You’ll like this, Steven. We had an energy auditor from Spain purchase a pair of Correct Toes. He’s got an infrared camera and he goes to building managers and he shows the building manager where they’re losing heat and losing energy and…

Steven Sashen:

I love where this is going. Keep going.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

So, he put a pair of Correct Toes on his right foot, not on his left foot, had them on for half an hour. Took pictures of both of his feet and one of the things that Correct Toes does is it opens up that vascular channel that Sarah was talking about. And we have about one of those in between each of the toes like. That’s another irony of the tapered toe box of the shoe. It actually pinches off circulation where it’s meant to branch. The point being, we were interested to see that the foot that had correct toes on was 5 degrees warmer Fahrenheit than the foot that was pinched in, so 5 degrees.

Steven Sashen:

That’s significant.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

It really is. So, we mess up so many things with our shoes. We mess up circulation, we mess up nerve function, we mess up proprioception, balance, intrinsic muscle function. So, it’s really compelling what we’re talking about here. And sadly, more people need to know about it.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. I’m trying to… this is not surprisingly, both my mission personally as well as with our company and I would be doing this even if I didn’t have a company that was all about this. It’s just how to create a message that’s compelling enough that again, it wakes people up. And it can’t just be data. It can’t just be information. It can’t be… I mean, I have a number of ideas about this that I’m starting to play with where in a way we make an end run around the arguments that people would normally make.

Because many people I realized have had the experience of or remember being kids and playing outside in the summer in bare feet and just having no problems. It’s like, “Yeah.” So, get the hint. And just that alone, just that idea of that memory of how much fun it was to feel the grass or the sand or the dirt or the water under your feet, how you would just go out all day long. You’d kick off your shoes as soon as you could. I have vivid memories of being a kid and getting my first pair of dress shoes and just crying over these things.

And we just forget this, which is sort of amazing or I like doing things that just make people kind of stop and say, the number of podiatrist in America, I think, is more than there are in any other. If you take like all the third world countries and look for podiatrists, it won’t come anywhere close to the number we have in America and they’re only treating like actual real problems. I mean, people who have serious congenital problems or injuries. Not this, “Hey, my foot hurts. Hey, my back hurts.”

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Exactly. I had a lady from India come and visit about a year ago and she looked at me during the visit. She said, “There’s two things we don’t have in India, podiatrists and chiropractors.”

Steven Sashen:

That’s good.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

I remember what Mark Cucuzzella says, Steven. Mark Cuccuzzella says, “How can we don’t have handologists or hand?”

Steven Sashen:

My God, that’s great. Yeah, well, I will say though, what they do have in India is something that we don’t have here. I had a guy clean out my ears with these incredible like foot-long instruments. I have pictures of it, where this guy’s got something, the size of a yardstick shoved down my eustachian tube practically. It was one of the weirdest experiences I ever had, and very entertaining. So, I’m not even saying it’s good for you, but I’m saying there’s stuff in India that we don’t have and it’s a good thing.

I got to tell you my favorite shoe story from India. So, we were over there about 10 years ago for a friend’s wedding. And he’s Indian, his wife is American, and so, they had the LA wedding and the Indian wedding. And we go over there and I mean, the shoes that they have, I mean, talking about pointy toes. They had some crazy ass ridiculous, don’t fit your feet by any stretch of the imagination shoes that we had to get to go with the rest of our outfits. And I could, I mean, I could barely wear them for more than 10 seconds, but it is crazy fun, so who cares.

But I’m negotiating with the guy who’s selling them and I don’t know what he wanted. Let’s say it was 100 rupees or 200 rupees. And I said, “I’ll give you 20 rupees.” And he says, “No, no. I can’t do that.” I said, “Sure, you can.” He says, “What am I going to tell my family if I sell you these shoes for 20 rupees?” I said, “You finally met an American who knows the actual price of these shoes.” He cracked up and said, “Okay, 30 rupees.” “Perfect, we’re done.”

And then, we actually have a friend who’s Indian. She’s from Bombay and she said she was over shopping for shoes and there was an American woman and they’re haggling a little bit. And this Indian woman says in Hindi says, “If I tell her that what you’re saying is the right price, will you give me a free pair?” He goes, “Absolutely.” It’s a whole different game over there.

I think the other thing I keep thinking in terms of what it’s going to take is the right kind of celebrity. And ideally, like you said, someone who went from being in pain to not being in pain. There actually is someone like that in Australia and a lot of people know him and know his story. But it hasn’t had enough influence yet. And this is Anthony from… do you know the Wiggles?

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

No.

Steven Sashen:

The Wiggles is the most successful popular kids’ entertainment thing in the world. You have to look them up. And Anthony Wiggle, if you look up Anthony, I think he’s the blue Wiggle, but don’t hold me to it. Anthony had like major, major foot issues. And somehow I don’t know how he got introduced to James Stocks. And James is actually a chiropractor, but he doesn’t do straight chiropractic by any stretch of the imagination. Most of what he’s doing is working on foot mobility and getting people’s feet to move naturally.

And it totally changed Anthony’s life. And he went from thinking he was going to have to quit the most interesting, lucrative, influential thing he’s ever done, because he couldn’t get around. And now, then he went back to being practically an Olympic level athlete almost by just getting his feet working naturally. But no one knows who he is over here, he makes a big difference in Australia and among kids, but even then, the kids are going, “Oh, I want to do what Anthony is doing.” But the parents haven’t quite put two and two together yet.

So, again, I find just this whole question of how to communicate, how to change what is now “common wisdom” that is neither common nor wise into something that’s actually legit. Anyway, it’s plaguing me right now.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

If we can get people to start going barefoot more or wear Xero shoes or some other more natural footwear, almost 100% of the time those people will not be able to wear their old footwear.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah, yeah. We have so many emails from people saying, “You’ve ruined me.” And/or my favorite on Facebook, a little while ago, someone posted a picture of the eight pairs they had and said, “Look at my eight pairs of Xero shoes.” And everyone’s like, “I can top that.”

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Awesome.

Steven Sashen:

So, that was very satisfying. You mentioned something else that I also think is related to this is that we look at other people’s feet and we see theirs looking similar to ours and we think it’s normal. And that’s a fascinating, something to adjust. I find it incredible when people say things like they don’t like looking at bare feet or they don’t like looking at people in flip-flops. Like, “Why?” I mean, what’s the big deal? I mean, yes, there are some feet that are prettier than others aesthetically, for whatever reason, but I’m amazed at this whole anti-barefoot thing from an aesthetic perspective.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Yeah, I see it, too. I also find people are not only kind of have an aversion to bare feet, people have an aversion to naturally shaped feet and naturally shaped shoes.

Steven Sashen:

Well, this is one of the biggest things that we try to do is make things that have a natural fit that don’t look orthopedic or clownish. And there’s obviously a way of doing that. But yeah, again, I think you’re right. It is really just that we’ve gotten so used to it, that we think that’s the way it is. And you go to Europe, for example, and there’s way more footwear that’s design for this foot shape that we’re describing. And there, no one has that issue. So, that’s a fascinating piece as well.

The reason this has been wrestling around in my brain so much lately is because, and this is relevant for you and for everyone else who’s trying to promote natural movement, is that to a certain extent when we’re doing advertising, we’re preaching to the choir or we’re preaching to the people who would like to hear the choir. But I said, from a marketing perspective, the last thing you want to say is, “Our product is right for everybody,” because that’s just never true. But everybody wear shoes often, too.

And so, to a certain extent, what we’re doing is right for everyone. It’s going to take a while until you can, until that message kind of permeates, obviously, but because there’s no one for whom that I’ve ever seen. Other than someone who’s got some major or sort of like for a structural problem, there’s no one for whom this isn’t right. It can become that big. It can become a life and world changing thing and from a business perspective, we’re just trying to start speaking to more people who don’t already know this whole idea, who aren’t familiar with what we’re talking about. And so, I’ve just been talking to a lot of people and wrestling with what the messaging has to be to make that happen. That’s just FYI. That’s why I’m so obsessed about it in this conversation.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

I’m with you, brother.

Steven Sashen:

So, what’s next for you? What are you trying to do? I mean, you’re a single human being who’s doing what you’re doing? I mean, is that cool? Are you trying to stay in your own private Idaho or are you looking to expand? Are you looking to… what do you want to do?

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Yeah. We just launched the Natural Foot Health Institute. And we had our first meeting here in Portland in April. We’re going to be holding meetings throughout the country this coming year. What I really want to do is I want to get this message out to more people, but I want to empower other people to educate their local communities. For instance, you guys probably get contacts from all over the states and if not all over the world wanting to know where’s a naturally minded podiatrist?

Steven Sashen:

Totally, totally.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

We get it all the time. So, we’ll spend our hour with our patient and they’ll get the information, they’ll implement it, they’ll get better. And then they’ll call and they’ll say, “Well, I’ve got a cousin in Baltimore or I’ve got an aunt in Cincinnati. Who can I send them to?” And there’s a paucity of people for us to send people to. So, what we’re doing is we’re certifying people in natural foot health. We’re certifying them in how to fit shoes, how to choose shoes, how to rehab feet. So, that’s what my passion is right now, Steven.

Steven Sashen:

That’s great.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

It’s just right now, I’m trying to get the message out.

Steven Sashen:

Are these, the people you’re working with, are they podiatrists, chiropractors, ortho pods? What’s required?

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

All of those.

Steven Sashen:

Interesting.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Yeah, all of those. Actually, surprisingly, the interest is coming from reflexology and massage therapy, body workers. Not so much orthopedist. Some osteopaths. A lot of chiropractors, but even the general public. One of the things I’ve been inspired with hanging out with Mark Cucuzzella is a lot of the things that he does, he doesn’t just do them for medical people, he does it for the whole community. And that’s what we’re trying to do, too. But yes, it will be medical people, too, that will take us back to their communities and they’ll have a certification in natural foot health. So, if somebody calls us or they go on our website, they’ll be listed there. So that’s really what my passion is, right now.

Steven Sashen:

You remind me there’s a chiropractor that I know, who teaches, let’s call it a nontraditional form of chiropractic for the sake of simplicity. And he goes, “Why is it that you need to be a chiropractor to do this? I can teach this to a 10-year-old.” And so, he’s actually just going out into communities and teaching lay people, normal people, “Here’s how you do…” I mean, 80% of what he needs to do is just 10% of what he actually does. And so, it’s like, “Let me teach you how to do these things.” This will be really helpful for most people. And he’s teaching just normal human beings, and it’s changing communities. And again, I love this idea of the grassroots groundswell component of making this happen. I’m just trying to accelerate that, because that’s pun intended, that’s what has actual legs.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

You bet. Yep. Absolutely.

Steven Sashen:

Interesting. I’m trying to think if I have anything else that’s popping into my brain. So, you said you were a runner. Are you still running?

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

I’m still running, yeah. But I still get out there. Yeah.

Steven Sashen:

Are you a distance, dude?

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

I do some distance. I prefer 5K distance. I’ve got some friends that are doing really long stuff. So, I’ll do some long training with them, but I actually like to go shorter and faster, something like that.

Steven Sashen:

That’s so cute that you think 5K is short and fast.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

I know you’re a sprinter.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. I don’t even take turns on the track, so I hear that they exist. I hear there’s another side of the track. I’ve never experienced it. So I mean, it could be like UFOs for all I know. Someone said to me, “I think you have a phobia of the other side of the track.” I said, “I can’t be afraid of something that doesn’t exist. That’s ridiculous.” So, I have no experience about whatsoever. Interesting. Do you have an opinion of or any idea about why trail running and ultra-running has become such a huge thing lately?

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

I don’t have a personal…

Steven Sashen:

And that’s just a question. Totally out of nowhere.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

I’m thrilled that it is.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah, it’s fascinating.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

I’m thrilled that it is because I’m kind of averse to flat surfaces. I’m starting to encourage people to engage the natural environment more, but I don’t really have a good answer for why that’s happening.

Steven Sashen:

Well, let’s talk about that part. Because when I start, people often say, “If you want to learn to run barefoot, find a nice, smooth, hard surface. Take off your shoes. Go for an extremely short run, like 20 seconds. And if you’re not having fun, do something different until you are. If it hurts, do something different until you’re having fun.” And I think that’s a really good training thing. But once people have a decent form, once they’ve learned how to move more naturally, then I want to get them on as many various services as possible. And can you chat about what that does from a podiatric perspective?

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Yeah, definitely. I think when we get on uneven surfaces, not only does it stimulate our nervous system, it’s really good for the intrinsic muscles of the arch. The idea of running on a flat surface all the time basically doesn’t challenge us appropriately. It’s another unnatural variable if you will. So, I try to get people off. Get them on the trail. Get them running over rocks and roots and stimulate the whole body.

Steven Sashen:

It’s funny. I’ve been on trails barefoot with people and we go flying by people in shoes. They’re going, “You can’t do that.” It’s like, “Well, we just did that.” But it’s interesting to hear what you’re saying about flat surfaces because one of the reasons I actually like flat surfaces is how to say this, my mind is not precise, but what the activities that I like doing are all about precision. And so, I love the flat surfaces, because it really lets me dial in and see how much better I’m actually getting than when I’m on so many varied surfaces, I’m not getting that same kind of feedback about precision. I mean, I like archery, I like target shooting. Sprinting is totally about precision. One little step wrong and you’ve lost the race and I’ve always been fascinated with that. But yeah, just for the extra stimulation alone and just the fun of it.

My first real barefoot run, we were on every kind of surface you could possibly think of. And again, I’m a sprinter and it was just so engrossing that at the end of the run, I had no idea how far we’ve gone. I wasn’t paying attention. I was just experimenting with my gait, changing how fast I move, how fast I ran, how fast my feet moved, where I landed on my feet, anything I could think of. And at the end, someone had a GPS watch. I said, “How far was that?” She goes, “Just a little over 5K.” I was like, “Sorry, what?” I mean, I had no idea because it really is just so engrossing. It’s like instant meditation.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Love it. Yeah.

Steven Sashen:

Well, unfortunately, we got to wrap things up, just because that’s the way the clock works and scheduling works. So, if people want to get in touch with you and experience Correct Toes or any of the work that you’re doing or the new… was it Natural Foot Health Institute? Any of the ways that they could get in touch with you or involved in what you’re doing, how should they do that?

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Yeah, a couple of websites. Correctoes.com is the Correct Toes website and W Foot.

Steven Sashen:

So, wait. Suddenly, hold on. Wait. Hold on. Suddenly, you’re cutting out. So, I’m going to repeat it. So, Correct Toes, C-O-R-R-E-C-T-T-O-E-S-dot-com, T-O-E-S.com, T-O-E-S.com. And W foot and ankle. Is that the second one?

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

Yeah.

Steven Sashen:

And keep going.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

And I think we just launched our Natural Foot Health Institute website. I don’t remember exactly what the tagline is there. The other thing that the audience members could do is if they’re not finding a natural foot care provider in their community, we have to do remote consultation. So, they get to call the clinic. We can Skype with them, we can FaceTime, we can Zoom for people that don’t live here in Portland. So, that’d be another way to get in touch with us.

Steven Sashen:

That’s awesome.

Dr. Ray McClanahan:

I trying to read a website really. If people just go to the website to get their footwear, go get it there.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. You have got a lot of info on the website that is definitely valuable. So, I encourage everyone to go. Well, again, so I’ve got to wrap it up. So, I want to thank people for being here and hopefully you will discover what you can do with your toes, so you can make the rest of your body work better. That’s of course what we’re here for. And obviously, if you want to engage with us more go to jointhemovementmovement.com. If you have any questions or suggestions or people that you think should be on the show, drop an email to me at [email protected].

And of course again, like and share and review and tweet and post and all these things. You know how to do it. I don’t need to tell you how to do it. Again, as I’d like to say if you want to be part of the tribe, please do subscribe. And as always, thank you for being here and live life, feet first.

Speaker 1:

You’ve been listening to the MOVEMENT Movement Podcast with host Steven Sashen. Remember to join the tribe and subscribe at jointhemovementmovement.com.

 

 

 

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