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  • November 13, 2022 2 min read

    Locke, the hands that treated 2,500 feet per day! 

    About Locke:

    Mahlon Locke was a Canadian physician who attracted international attention in the 1930s with an unusual therapy. Through a process of foot manipulation, popularly known as "toe-twisting," Locke seemed able to .

    relieve many intractable cases of arthritis as well as a variety of related afflictions. Sufferers flocked to his clinic in Williamsburg, Ontario and, at the height of his fame, he was tending literally hundreds of people each day. Despite this spectacular public reaction, however, Locke is an obscure figure in Canadian history. People who lived through the Great Depression may remember the crowds lining the streets of Williamsburg or the media coverage of the clinic, but later generations are largely unacquainted with this unusual practitioner. One purpose of this paper, then, is simply to recapture and recount his story for the record.

    At the same time, Locke represents more than just a curious episode in Canadian history; he inspired strong and divergent opinions and the study of these reactions can help us to understand the social and medical climate of this period. In this discussion, I have focused on the attitudes of Locke's orthodox medical colleagues with particular attention paid to the disparate reactions of physicians in Canada and the United States. Thus, the other aim of this paper is to suggest that, despite shared definitions of health and healing, Canadian and American doctors responded differently to Locke as a result of fundamental differences in the tradition and character of each medical community.

    We came across an interesting article, in the early 1920s a Canadian physician who created an interesting way of treating people with foot pain with a special twisting technique. It became so popular that thousands of people travelled to him each week. He even believed that manipulation could be useful in the treatment of arthritis.

    He believed releasing pressure from the nerves in the foot would allow for the entire body to benefit. He left patients with a 20 - 40 second treatment & a number of exercises they must perform at home.

    His treatment could not be forgotten!

    “Rising early in the morning, the doctor stationed himself in a revolving office chair in the yard while his patients-on stretchers, with canes, in wheel chairs-formed a dozen lines that converged on the chair. As each sufferer approached the inner circle, Locke would manipulate his or her feet, prescribe the frequency and duration of treatment, and spin on to the next patient. He paused only to tend local patients, to eat a meal, or to wind his revolving chair back up to its original position. In this way, he actually did manage to treat thousands of people every week for, according to Rex Beach, "twenty seconds usually sufficed for a complete manipulate.”

    The medical world didn't take to Locke and in fact took his license away. They not only tarnished his name, but the names of the people claiming to have been cured, which by then were in the 10,000s. Read the full article free by clicking on the link below.

    Shoes developed (but hard to get people to wear):

    Dr Locke shoes

    Download the full PDF here: 

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