Armstrong Podiatry & Sports Health's Blog

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Interview with Dr. McClanahan

Ray McClanahan, D.P.M.

I had the great fortune and honor to do an interview with a fellow colleague of mine, Dr. Ray McClanahan.  Dr. McClanahan practices in Portland, Oregon at Northwest Foot & Ankle, and will nicely help summarize and bring my previous blog articles about shoegear to a conclusion.

(Q) Thanks for the interview.  Tell us why you chose the podiatrist profession?

(RM): I chose podiatry because I had a lot of foot problems while running track and field in college.  Shortly after college, I met a podiatrist at a road race, who became my friend and invited me to visit his practice to see what a podiatrist does to help people achieve healthy feet.  It felt like my calling.

(Q) Does your experience as a runner help or hinder your treatment plans with your patients?

(RM): I believe runners come to see me because they know that as a runner, I understand their need to run, and their love of our sport.  I have often had runners tell me that non-running medical professionals have told them to give up running, or find a different sport.  Many of those runners keep looking for a way to keep running, because running provides something for them personally that they do not receive from other types of exercise.  I believe that being a runner allows me to experience empathy for the suffering of my running patients.  I have felt what they are going through when they get injured.

And I feel their passion to continue to seek out ways of healing their bodies so that they can continue to receive all of the healthful benefits of running.

(Q) What is your definition of “healthy feet”?

(RM): Healthy feet are feet that can stand, walk and run without injury.  Healthy feet have toes that are spread wider than the ball of the foot.  This is natural foot anatomy that we are all born with, which begins to become deformed in early childhood due to the fact that most footwear for children are designed to mold the child’s foot to be shaped like a shoe, instead of allowing the toes to spread as nature intended. 

Healthy feet balance the task of bearing the body’s weight evenly, on the heel and all of the toes,  spread out and flat on the supporting surface.  This healthy position can rarely be achieved while wearing shoes.

Natural feet

(Q) I have been doing a blog series about shoegear and their unhealthy consequences.  What can be done to limit their destructive tendencies?

(RM): I believe footwear can be improved if the goal of the design is to maximize natural foot biomechanics.  Being barefoot is the model of natural biomechanics, and it is observed in the barefoot state, that the heel is level with all of the toes.  Most athletic footwear has the heel part of the shoe elevated above the front part (heel elevation).  The toebox of athletic shoes also artificially elevates the ends of the toes above the ball of the foot, which does not allow for natural foot biomechanics (toespring).  Athletic footwear does not allow the ends of the toes to be the widest part of the foot, but rather confines the toes to the conventional tapering shape, thus compromising balance and function (tapered toeboxes). 

An optimal shoe for running activities would allow the heel (calcaneus) to be level with the entire forefoot complex (metatarsalphalangeal joints and interphalangeal joints).  The toes would be allowed to spread wider than the ball of the foot, which is natural foot anatomy

Ideal shoe:  1. Flat    a) no heel elevation      b) no toespring

                            2. Wide at the ends of the toes

                            3. Flexible, so as to allow for strengthening of intrinsic arch flexor muscles needed for natural arch integrity

                            4. Lightweight

(Q) Tell me about your product, “Correct Toes”?  It sounds so simple, but so practice and fundamentally essential for shoe-wearing people.

(RM): “Correct Toes” is a conservative/natural product that encourages slowly and gradually changing the anatomy of your forefoot to resemble a more natural forefoot. More like what we are born with, before our feet get changed by shoes. This is accomplished by widening the space between the first and second toes and the 4th and 5th toes.  The goal is for the ends of your toes to be able to spread wider than the balls of your feet.  If this can be achieved, balance is enhanced and your brain can receive helpful proprioceptive information and respond more naturally.


Correct Toes-therapy for the feet


(Q) Do you have any specific shoes that you recommend to your patients?

(RM): We encourage our athletic patients to envision purchasing footwear that is as close to the position of their natural foot as possible.  We discourage them from identifying with brands or shoe sizes, but rather recommend that they look for footwear that is flat, wide at the ends of the toes and flexible.  When they find this type of shoe, we recommend they remove the sock liner and stand on it, to see if it allows their toes to spread wider than the ball of their feet.  Depending upon the patient’s foot:  Terra Plana, Crocs, Vibram  Five Fingers, ALTRA, Stem Footwear.

(Q) Your practice has a large focus on prevention.  Prevention seems to be a “buzzword” in healthcare today.  How do you think we can integrate prevention into the U.S Healthcare system?

(RM): I wish prevention was more of an action word, than a buzzword.  Unfortunately, it seems as if healthcare dollars are allocated for treatment and healthcare intervention, rather than for prevention and education.  I would like to see podiatry serve our patients on a model similar to the dental model, where Americans have their feet evaluated and preventive strategies are encouraged before problems occur.  Our patients would need to be willing to wear better footwear, like agreeing to flossing and brushing.  This can be a problem, in that fashion footwear is part of our conditioning.  I believe runners and people concerned for their health may be wise enough to choose healthful footwear.

The current model of podiatric healthcare delivery does not honor or reimburse podiatric physicians for educating patients or preventing disease.  Podiatric, and most other types of physicians, are reimbursed for treating illness, not preventing it.

I have personally dropped out of all insurance company plans to focus on wellness and prevention and many Americans are wise enough to seek education and prevention, even when it is not covered by their insurance plan.

Feel free to digest all the information in this blog interview and contact me if you have any questions.  Correct Toes will be available in my office for purchase also!

Happiness and good health!

April 11, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Try Beech Sandals from They naturally spread your toes! And they are vegan friendly! They also sell Vibram and lots of brands that can help your feet!

    Comment by Jilyan | September 30, 2011 | Reply

  2. Dr. Armstrong,

    Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts on natural foot health.
    I wish you and all of your running patients great foot health!

    Ray Mcclanahan,DPM

    Comment by ray mcclanahan | October 7, 2011 | Reply

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