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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Happy Feet Toe Alignment Socks



According to the manufactures’ My-Happy Feet socks help align the toes and undo the harmful effect of daily foot stress. The night socks feature dividers to separate the toes and stretch the intrinsic foot muscles. Initially the socks are worn with the dividers at the tips of the toes for 15 to 20 minutes per day. The dividers should gradually be moved down between the toes and worn for longer periods of time, so that within weeks the socks can be worn overnight. Claims also include Foot Alignment Socks can be used as a non-surgical treatment for bunions, hammer toes, crooked toes, heel pain & general foot comfort and manufactures include Foot Alignment Socks can also help to reduce the need for surgical intervention.

Biomechanical Footnote

It would be nice to think these claims are possible but it is unlikely for the following reasons.

The term ‘Bunion’ describes an adventitious bursitis over the medial aspect of the first metatarsophalangeal joint. The terminology is often confused by lay public for Hallux (Abducto) Valgus (HAV) which is a significant pathological process resulting in a subluxation of the main pivot joint of the foot. It is not uncommon for both adventitious bursitis and HAV to be present as chronic condition not likely to respond to passive stretching.

Hammer toe describes chronic osteoarthrosis in the proximal interphalangeal joint of the lesser toes (usually the second toe). In the chronic stage this is irreversible, albeit provided the metatarsophalangeal joint is capable of plantar flexion this may reduce the profile of the affected joint.

There are many causes of pain in the heel and these may afflict different facets of the bone. By far the most reported type involves plantar fasciitis which is usually an enthesopathy unlikely to be assisted by passive digital manipulation.

Anatomically the three middle toes operate as one unit supplied with extrinsic musculature which accounts for extension and flexion of the toes. On the dorsum the tendons of the extensor digitorum longus insert into the extensor hood (which allows each phalanx to work in unison) and the tendons from the extensor digitorum brevis provide a compensatory oblique pull to give a straight up and down movement. At the metatarsal-phalangeal joints. The three middle toes share common insertions with the great toe and the fifth toes respectively but both first and fifth toes have different musculature which allows them independent movement. There are two sets of intrinsic muscles to the digits i.e. the interossei and the lumbricals . The former are split into the dorsal interossei and the plantar interossei muscles. The dorsal interossei abduct (move away) the lesser toes away from the midline of the foot; and the latter, plantar interossei, adduct (move towards) the midline of the foot. The lumbricals assist with unified plantarflexion and dorsiflection of the lesser toes through the dorsal hood mechanism. Feet and hands are more or less at the same evolutionary stage with a natural gap between the great toe and the second toe; and the fourth and fifth toes. This leaves the first and fifth toes with independent movement and the three middle toes to operate as one unit. Separating the middle three toes is therefore unlikely by itself to assist with normalising toe function albeit temporary stretching of the digits may give a stimulus to the superficial circulation.

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