About spreading the toes.... "Yoga toes" can be okay to use for
short periods of time, but does have some risk of injuring the ligaments
between the toes if you try to walk in them (not recommended). Plus,
you can get the same benefit for free, just by putting your fingers
between your toes, or interlacing the toes of your right foot with the
toes of your left foot (soles facing each other, start with the fifth
toes, and weave them together toe by toe). A safe option for
walking, besides the 5 Finger shoes, is a product called Correct Toes by
holistic podiatrist Ray McClanahan. They provide a small amount of
spacing, appropriate for wearing inside wide-toe shoes such as a Croc or
a sandal, and help retrain the toes to work in a parallel position, as
Esther describes, rather than being all smooshed together. They can be
found at http://www.nwfootankle.com.
They are made in Portland, Oregon, of flexible silcone, and cost $65
for a pair. They are excellent for treating bunions, neuromas,
hammertoes, and many other foot problems. Esther mentioned
feeling that the metatarsal arch gets overspread in the 5 Finger shoes.
Dr. McClanahan recommends using a metatarsal pad in the 5 Finger shoes,
as well as in most other shoes. Pedag brand pads are made of soft
leather and are imported from Germany. They are available on his website
or from many other sources such as some shoe stores. Placement is
tricky and is best done by a professional, but they do come with a
placement chart if you have to do it yourself.
Pedag is one of the brands of insoles I have recommended over the years. Thanks for the great post, Karin!
Thanks Esther! I can only recommend the Pedag metatarsal pads.... I
haven't checked their insole product line, but many insoles and
orthotics are too rigid and/or have invasive arch support which
undermines the foot's ability to pronate naturally. Sometimes wearing a
shoe without the insole at all (including removing the one that it came
with) can be a helpful way to increase sensory input and increase space
for the toes.
I actually teach that an insole can be very helpful, if used like a tool
rather than a crutch. I think of the arch support like a contour on the
ground available for gripping. I also think of it as establishing a
baseline so the foot does not pronate or otherwise distort beyond a
certain degree (most peopl already have rather collapsed and pronated
feet; I feel they shouldn't pronate any further. More about this here: http://egwellness.com/perfecting-posture-injury-prevention-0 and in my book, 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back (which may as well have been named 8 Steps to Pain-Free Feet!)I
do agree with you that most orthotics are too rigid, not to mention
that they are designed as crutches (with a price tag that reflects the
notion that they are there to stay). I intend for people to radically
change the shape and structure of their feet, not by forcing them to do
tasks (like barefoot running) which they may not yet be prepared for,
but by encouraging the action of barefoot walking while still having the
support of a soft insole. Over time, as the foot muscle tone and
structure improve, I encourage barefoot walking, dancing, etc. I like
people to stay "ahead of the curve" rather than "behind the curve."
Hi Esther, Thanks for including the link to that article - I hadn't
seen it before and enjoyed reading your view on various types of
injuries. It sounds like our ideas about arch supports are
pretty compatible - not too much, not too stiff. I do really like the
way you describe the shape of a healthy foot, and find it to be similar
to how John Friend, the head of Anusara yoga, teaches foot position. I
will try to locate a description of that for you. I agree that
barefoot running, or running in 5 finger shoes, is not appropriate for
everyone, and people tend to jump from one extreme to another too
quickly. That's why I advocate for a "minimalistic shoe" that is
flexible, lightweight, and has a completely neutral sole. Being able to
feel the ground through the shoe allows the foot to adapt and gives
sensory feedback that allows the motor nerves to fire the muscles more
effectively. Hence, too much padding is counterproductive. I recall from
your book that you like Keens. A couple of their models are flexible,
but some are very stiff. The sandals that are so popular are often more
flexible, but they are still very padded. I own a pair and use them
when I want a break from my more minimalistic shoes.
I completely agree with both Esther and PortlandRolfer. I would like to add that strengthening the muscles of the foot also plays an inportant role in realigning bunions.
This article on "how to prevent bunions from getting worse" should help a lot.
Esther has an excellent video on an exercise she calls the Inchworm here:
I highly suggest checking it out!
Hope this helps Madeleine!