Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Medical Deductible for Shoe Insert Orthotics, Year-End Insurance

Shoe insert orthotics are part of a healthy life-style choice that will keep you on your feet for years to come.

Every autumn my orthotics clinic becomes very busy because many clients come in to take advantage of their annual medical policy and update their shoe insert orthotics. Check out your insurance funds and if you have funds available, remember to purchase your othotics or duplicates before the end of the year.

It's very important to have duplicate orthotics because you are more likely to use your othotics when it's easiest. Having orthotics in more than one pair of shoes makes it easier to use them and allows each pair to thoroughly dry out before wearing them again.

Medical expense plans or "cafeteria plans" are a pool of funds that certain insurance companies (usually through a business medical insurance plan) offer to employees and members. This type of fund is a don't-use-it-you-lose-it policy, so be sure to use your available funds before Jan. 1st.

Other insurance companies have a yearly deductible, that if a recipient may have fulfilled over the year, enables them to have more of their out-of-pocket medical expenses paid. Some insurance companies allow one pair of foot orthotics per year, or a certain amount of money to be put towards the purchase of a shoe insert or foot orthotic.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Custom Ski Boots - Daleboot is the Only Ski Boot Made in the U.S.A.

Painful feet drive people out of skiing. Sometimes, the only thing between skiing and quitting is a good ski boot. When a ski boot customer has irregular shaped feet or a foot problem of some sort, the only hope is to try on every manufacturer's ski boot and hope to find a ski boot shell style that best suits their foot problem.

For over 4 decades I've worked with or in the ski industry. As a young 20 something I worked in ski shops for about 10 years, then owned my own ski shop for 10 years during the skiing heyday of the 1980's. Since then I've incorporated ski boot fitting and sales into my custom shoe insert orthotics business. To best serve my customers I only sell one ski boot, the Daleboot.

I've been selling the Daleboot for over 10 years and am extremely satisfied with how they suit my client. Because I'm a Certified Pedorthist, my ski boot customer is often looking for a good fit that might be the difference between continuing to ski or giving up the sport.

Ski boot shells are molded hard plastic. The molds to make them are very expensive for the ski boot manufacturer. So each brand or model of ski-boot is designed for one-style-fits-all.

The ski boot industry has tried to help customers with ski boot fitting by supplying a variety of customizable boot liners and shoe inserts or orthotics. Technicians can then spend time grinding and stretching the shell and hoping for the best.

All of these efforts don't help the ski boot buyer when the performance of the boot is wrong for them even though the fit may eventually be right.

Daleboot is the only domestically manufactured ski boot in the U.S.A. That means that I can easily customize the Daleboot ski boot with help from the factory. Factory involvement is especially important to be able to customize the boot shell.

The entire Daleboot liner is fully formed (not partially, like most other brands) to the entire foot, ankle and lower leg. This feature is amazingly comfortable.

The performance of the Daleboot ski boot is variable with a adjustable forward flex feature to suit all abilities of skiers. The even fit of the boot promotes good blood circulation and consequently the foot remains warm longer than in some other ski boots. If the client is especially sensitive to cold, there is room to install a boot warmer.

People from around the country visit my Footform Orthotics clinic in Bend, Oregon to be fitted and purchase their Daleboots. They can test them on the nearby slopes of Mt. Bachelor and get any needed tweaks before they head home.

Call my office to set your custom ski boot fitting appointment in Bend, Oregon


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Customer Satisfaction - Keeping People Walking and Moving Well and Pain Free with Footform Shoe Insert Orthotics

Hello Randall,

I want you to know I think of you every morning, as I slip on my shoes for the day. Since I got my orthotics in May, I have been able to work, live and play pain free! I feel like it's not an understatement when I say your work has changed my life. I have even taken up activities that years ago I thought I would never be able to do. I'm even getting ready to run a 5k this fall (just writing this is bringing tears to my eyes)!

Thank you Randall. I'm a big fan!


Thanks Lisa for your note. Over the many years I've been in the Orthotics business I'm always touched to hear from a happy client. The proper integration of orthotics and shoes along with the client's efforts to change stance and gait can make a positive life-changing difference to our orthotics clients.

You are obviously implementing the changes we discussed during our appointment as well as regularly wearing your orthotics and proper footwear. I'm so pleased to hear that you are experiencing good results.

Good luck in your renewed running practice,


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Congratulations to Footform Gold Medal Athlete Barb Buchan

For many years we have been sponsoring U.S. Paralympian cyclist Barb Buchan with our Footform Orthotics. Barb is an inspiring and now quite famous athlete who at age 52 won 2 Gold Medals at the Beijing Olympics while setting a world record! (Of course she wore Footform orthotics in her cycling shoes!) With that victory in place, most of us thought that Barb would retire from cycling.

Retirement is the farthest thing from Barb's mind. She recently returned from Italy with a new victory and para-cycling world record. Here are the details:
  • Where: 2009 Para-Cycling World Championships in Bogogno, Italy. Sept. 11, 2009
  • What: Gold Medal Winner - LC3/LC4/CP3 - Time Trial BUCHAN (USA) with a time of 32:02 for 20k
Barb is very pleased with her results and compliments her coach, Bend resident, Justin Wadsworth for his years of training. Justin, himself a former Olympian and now World Cup Coach, also guided Buchan to two Gold Medals in the Beijing Paralympics last year and continues to guide her to her recent victories. Next month Buchan travels to Manchester, England to compete in the Disabled World Championships on the velodrome.

Barb's physical, mental and emotional strength inspire all of us. The New York Times has featured a few articles about her. From Death's Door to the Medal Podium by Allan Schwarz, is one of my favorites.

Despite Barb Buchan's awesome successes, she is not able to get the level of financial sponsorship that relieves her money worries as she concentrates on her training. She is working as much as possible, but the extent of her head injuries along with the demands of her training severely limit her efforts. You can read about one of Barb's cyling fundraisers on my wife's CreateAndRelate blog.

Barb Buchan's always needs help with cycling expenses and donating to her will make a big difference in whether she can compete or not:

Send Donations (not tax-deductible) to: (Please Make the Checks out to Barbara Buchan)

Barbara Buchan
c/o CORIL: Central Oregon Resources for Independent Living
PO Box 9425
Bend, OR 97708

Barbara thanks you for your support.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Good Posture is More than Standing Up Straight

There is a lot more to good posture than standing up straight. Your default posture (how you stand, sit and move without thinking) is your basic posture. People think you're born with posture or somehow inherit it. The truth about posture is that it is a learned skill.

Our stone age ancestors had to rely on instant athletic movement to save their lives. In order to cover long distances, hunt or avoid being hunted, an athletic body was a necessity. As human kind became more civilized, ideas about movement and culture got in the way of natural movement. For example in the modern United States, fashion models and store manikins are often posed purposely in awkward positions that many young girls emulate.

Also in the U.S. many people do not move their hips while walking. I'm not exactly sure why that is. I've been observing gait for decades and find that many Americans use their hips as a hinge joint rather than the ball-and-socket joint it is, a cultural habit that I think is linked to hip damage in middle-aged adults, particularly athletes that have put many miles on their bodies.

Correct or "good" posture isn't a ramrod straight spine. Good posture is when you can move freely and easily to do anything you need to do instantly. Bad posture is when you lock your joints to brace your skeleton against itself to stay up. This locks out movement and makes any new movement a process of awkward adjustments.

Locking your knees, jutting your neck forwards or slumping your shoulders forwards are all common things people do to "rest" themselves while standing or sitting. Here are some posture tips to get you on the road to healthy posture.
  • The first step to better posture is to develop body awareness through dance, exercise, yoga, martial arts, tai chi, sports -- anything that requires you to learn new movements (therefore becoming conscious of how you move).
  • Now, take that new body knowledge and as much as possible stop yourself during the day and note how you are doing.
  • Most importantly, bend your knees whenever you stand or walk. Never lock your knees no matter how fast you are walking.
  • Keep your abs or core toned and engaged. Think about this when walking and sitting.

There is much more to say about gait and posture, but this is a good start. For personal gait and stance and posture training, contact my office for a half-hour appointment.
Footform Performance Orthotics Center, 345 SW Century Drive, Ste.1, Bend, Oregon

Monday, September 14, 2009

"Barefoot" Running Shoes - Go Retro Instead and Wear Moccasins

There are a number of shoe brands and some start-up shoe companies that are now offering a "new" nearly barefoot athletic shoe to the public, touting that their minimalist qualities are "natural" for the human body because the athletic or running shoe designs are similar to being barefoot.

Because these companies have a vested interest in their shoe, they'll make great claims and sponsor studies and athletes to support their product marketing. In reality, the trend towards minimalist footwear is a step backwards in shoe design.

Here's why some people like the minimalist shoe:
  • Weight: very light and compact
  • Perception: shoe buyers perceive the shoe is good for their feet and has high cool factor.
  • Direct Foot Power: there is no influence of the shoe in the push off portion of the stride.
Here's the problem with minimalist shoes:
  • Ancient Ancestry: For the tens of thousands of years humans have been walking, we've been barefoot or wearing minimal footwear. Most of those ancient steps were on natural earth, not concrete, asphalt, tile or other types of uniform hard surfaces. Historically most humans didn't live long enough to reap the results of wear and tear on their bodies. Modern middle-age until just the past hundred years or so was old-age for most of human kind.
  • Excellent Biomechanics: Only athletes with both excellent gait technique AND bio-mechanics can excel with minimalist running shoes. Young athletes may feel fine with barefoot style shoes not realizing that they are running out of their personal biomechanical "grace period" that everybody has. When that grace period is up, wear and damage to the body sets up conditions that may lead to chronic injury and joint conditions.

If you really want to experiment with minimalist footwear shoe technology, here are my suggestions:
  • Gradual Break In: Depending on the mileage you are doing, the break-in time from standard supportive athletic running shoes to barefoot style shoes could be as long as 3 to 6 months.
  • Running Surfaces: Avoid ANY hard unyielding surfaces. This includes natural surfaces such as rock paths.
  • Age Related Option: If you're middle age and older and want to experiment with barefoot running shoes, only run on soft beach or desert sand.

So, if you want to authentically go retro when buying running shoes, buy some good, North American made moccasins. North American Indians are still making moccasins like they have for thousands of years, with a few minor alterations to their technology. Though you can buy very expensive, handmade custom moccasins, my favorite moccasin company is Laurentian Chief. The Laurentian Chief moccasin company, based in Quebec, Canada still employs some workers of indigenous ancestry to make their ancient style of minimalist footwear.

Remember, if you do get biomechanical strain, see me at www.Footform.com. I've experimented with making my own moccasins and used them with and without orthotics.

NOTE:Laurentian Chief does not sell direct to the public. One company I found on the web that is very invested in the Laurentian moccasin line is Get Outside Shoes in Toronto, Canada. They ship to the U.S.

If there are any other moccasin shoe companies that manufacture their moccasins in North America, let us know and we will add you to this blog entry.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Know When to Change Heels for Athletic Shoes and You'll Save Your Feet

Wearing dress shoes is OK for special occasions, but remember to keep your athletic shoes in your bag so you can change when you need to save your feet. My wife, Cristina Acosta, took this photo of a woman changing her shoes from heels to Nikes at the entrance to the Little Rock, Arkansas airport.

If you have to walk any significant distances and carry or pull weight (such as luggage or groceries), you'll be putting a lot of stress on your feet and your body. The proper footwear in this situation, a good brand of athletic shoes, enables you to walk better and balance the strain in your body. Not only will you ensure foot comfort, you'll keep your feet healthy and free of injuries.

Note: Footform custom shoe inserts will make most any shoe more comfortable, but there are limits. So, when in doubt, be kind to your feet and change your shoes to comfort footwear. No pain, no complain!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Orthotics and Renewable Resources

I've been dedicated to making safe custom foot orthotics or shoe inserts for decades. In the 1990's, I was motivated to make custom orthotics that last a long time. Most off-the-shelf shoe inserts or orthotics only last a few months before the orthotics materials compress out of shape and lose their shock absorption and supportive qualities.

My artisan made custom orthodics have a lifespan of five to ten years if the clients foot hasn't drastically changed. I succeeded with my goal of producing very long lasting custom orthotic arch supports that absorb shock while supporting the foot and increasing foot comfort. Footform shoe inserts are ideal for treating the flat foot, plantar fasciitis and other foot problems. Inserted into a well designed shoe such as a good athletic shoe that is right for my client, a custom orthotic and athletic shoe combination may be as good as or better than available orthopedic shoes.

We sell our brand of visco-elastic polymer mixed with cork, VISCORK™. I developed these arch support orthotics materials that I package and sell through my business, Footform Labs. Visco based materials have tested superior to all other orthotic materials yet they are rare because the first-generation fabrication methods were difficult and unconventional.

There is only one known competitor to our material, which is PQ™. I developed a visco fabrication method with Footform® Mold Shells that is an extremely simple system to make custom shoe inserts. Also, it is the only known method to thermo-form Poron®. Our VISCORK™ material has many advantages: easy grinding, low odor, no hazard rating, lightweight, simple 50-50-100 mix ratio, and less expensive. Our VISCORK is a perfect modern replacement of old-fashioned rigid orthotics technology. And, cork is a renewable resource. It's a win-win for our Footform clients, us and our planet!

Orthotics Manufacturers, Podiatrists, Chiropractors, Physical Therapists and other medical professionals can order our low hazard and safe foot orthotic supplies at 541-389-4547. We formulate, mix, assemble and ship all of our custom orthotics materials from Bend, Oregon. Made in the U.S.A.


photo: Cristina Acosta

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Walk Before You Run

According to the journal  Nature, the skeleton of a small hominid on the Island of Flores in Indonesia is revealing many clues about modern human existence, including how our feet evolved. 

New York Times writer, John Noble Wilfod wrote extensively about this discovery in his article,
"Prints Show a Modern Foot in Prehumans." Here's a quote from the article that I think is fascinating:

The footprints discovered in Kenya, researchers said, indicated that the erectus foot functioned much as a human foot does: the heel contacts the ground first; weight transfers along the arch to the ball of the foot; and the push-off is applied by the forefoot. In apes and apparently earlier hominids, this force comes from the midfoot.

The discovery is “even more explicit evidence,” Dr. Harris said, that the erectus species extended its range into more diversified habitats, camping and discarding stone tools at sites far from the sources of the stone. . . 

This history shows that foot development over thousands of years promoted the development of humankind. With the rise of modern transportation, modern walking surfaces and the fashion shoe choices we make, our feet function in an environment very different from our evolutionary history. 

With this in mind, pay attention to your gait. Remember when walking to keep your feet straight and a slight bend to your knees with every step. Your feet will take you places our ancestors never dreamed possible.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Save Money on Your Athletic Shoes

The old maxim, "It fits like an old shoe," doesn't mean "it's" good for you. Old athletic shoes, even if the uppers look good, wear down where the foot has stressed them. The insole packs down and is no longer functional. This is especially true of athletic shoes. 

The proper athletic shoe for your foot along with a  good orthotic may reduce repetitive strain injuries, the bane of any athlete or casual exerciser who works out regularly.

Athletic shoes are no longer as functional and supportive after roughly 500 miles. Active people walk about 5 miles per day. If you're wearing your sports shoes as your everyday shoes, be sure to add this mileage to your training mileage. As a general rule, a pair of well used athletic shoes has about 100 days of use. After that, the shoes have compressed cushioning (especially in the midsole) and have developed wear patterns that can accentuate poor gait and stance habits.

Here are a few tips to extend the life of your athletic shoes and save money:
  • Footform orthotics extend the life of your shoes by spreading out pressures more evenly throughout the shoe. 
  • Date your shoe when you start to use it (with a permanent marker) and half-way through the shoe's life add a new pair to your closet and alternate use between the 2 pairs. Continue to stagger the use of your shoes, throwing out the old pair.
At Footform Performance Center in Bend, Oregon, you can set a half-hour appointment for gait analysis and shoe consulting. Call my office 541-389-4547.

Note: Some specialty athletic shoe stores will recycle old athletic shoes. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Balance Everyday with Easy 1 Minute Exercise

Tipping over is a problem as we age. Toddlers tip over often as they walk, getting better and better at not falling as they practice. Most of us go through life on the walking and standing skills we developed as a child. We don't realize that balance is a learned skill, something we have to practice and nurture. If we don't practice our balance skills, as we age tipping over may start to happen again. Only with age, the consequences of falling can be dire.

Balance requires always moving to find balance. It's a subtle thing. Even though a person may appear to be perfectly still as they stand, muscles and nerves are constantly working to maintain equilibrium. Staying centered takes awareness.

Practice your balance skills with these easy tips: This exercise can take as little as 10 seconds. Repeat the exercise throughout your day.
  • Keep Moving: Practice bending your knees different amounts while you walk and stand.
  • While standing, practice shifting your weight in this order:(Both feet hip width apart, pointing straight ahead)
  1. Toe - Heel - Back to Center
  2. Shift Right - Shift Left - Back to Center
  3. Roll to the Outside of the Foot - Roll to the Inside of the Foot - Back to Center

Friday, February 27, 2009

Get Off Your Butt and on Your Feet

Scientists that include a group of paleontologists and students directed by John W.K. Harris of Rutgers University in collaboration with the National Museums of Kenya have found the oldest evidence of a human footprint, one they've dated at approximately 1.5 million years ago.

The New York Times article, Prints Show a Modern Foot in Prehumans, by John Noble Wilford, details the discovery  that  helps to explain that "human ancestors had adapted the ability for long-distance walking and running."

If the recent trends for human activity continue, finding footprints will be harder than ever. In most of the U.S. human kind is spending more time on their butts.

Walking and running were a huge advantage is the evolution of human kind. The best walkers and runners prospered from their improved opportunities being upright and agile. A good stride and the ability to move easily could make the difference between life and death. 

Things have changed. Except for the athletes among us, most Americans are no longer moving their bodies the way they were designed to be moved. We've become a culture addicted to screen-time and the result could be deadly. 

For the first time in America, it's likely that if obesity trends persist, this generation of young people will die at a younger age that their parents. Currently one third of all American's under age 18 are either overweight or obese. Eighty percent of the youth that are obese grow up to become obese adults.

This information is so disturbing that my family supports the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, an alliance between the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation to combat childhood obesity. My daughter, Isabella Acosta Barna is a volunteer on the Alliance's Youth Advisory Board and encourages other kids to live a healthy lifestyle. You can read about her activities on her blog.  

I believe strongly that a healthy, strong foot and optimal gait are part of the foundation of a healthy life. I write this blog to help people realize the importance of foot health and how to achieve their best results.

Call for an appointment: 541-389-4547

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sports Pedorthist - Supporting the Athlete and Active Person

A lot of people don't know what a Certified Pedorthist is or does. Pedorthics is a specialty in foot orthotics and shoes. It's often confused with Podiatrist. The difference is that Podiatrists are doctors treating a variety of foot related ailments, including doing minor surgeries and prescribing drugs. Podiatrists also prescribe and provide orthotics. 

The big difference between getting orthotics from a Pedorthist (me), rather than a Podiatrist is that the Pedorthist is a specialist who usually fabricates the orthotic and fits it into shoes. Podiatrists usually send out their orthotics for fabrication. Because of cost and insurance issues, many Podiatrists and Pedorthists are turning to the less effective pre-fabricated, off - the - shelf orthotics.

The majority of Pedorthists across the U.S. focus on the diabetic foot problem. But, there is a small niche in pedorthics called Sports Pedorthists.  Regionally (the Pacific Northwest), I am a widely known Sports Pedorthist, and operate my Footform Performance Orthotics Center in Bend, Oregon. Though I do make orthotics for clients with diabetes and other maladies, my specialty is custom orthotics for the active person with repetitive strain injuries and issues.

Sports Pedorthists have the skills to fit orthotics into specialty athletic shoes, such as ski boot orthotics, skating orthotics, cycling orthotics, running orthotics and golf orthotics. Maybe you're thinking that, "Hey, anybody can put an orthotic in a shoe." Here's the answer. A Sports Pedorthist spends a lot of time analyzing the athletes biomechanics, their sport and their footwear. Fitting the orthotics into the specialty shoe correctly makes a huge positive difference to the athlete's performance and relief of strain.

At Footform Performance Orthotics center, in Bend, Oregon, our foot orthotics price includes 2 one-hour appointments to ensure the best result. 

Bend, Oregon is a vacation area and many of my clients visit Bend for a vacation or to participate in one of the many races and sports events in Bend. They'll get their orthotics while they are here. I have many clients from around the country that will get their foot molds on file with me, then have me mail them duplicate orthotics over the years. 

Call my Footform Sports Orthotics clinic in Bend, Oregon for an appointment, 541-389-4547.
Email: Randall@Footform.com

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Our Orthotics Materials are Enviro-Safe

All of our Footform foot orthotics are artisan made in our labs. That means that not only are the technicians making the foot insoles exposed to the orthotics materials, but that any pollutants present are released into the local area.

In the old days orthotics were made out of a rigid plastic known as rohadur. Rohadur was banned due to it's harmful environmental impact. The substance also lacked shock absorbing properties. Rohadur was old and bad technology.

My Footform orthotics are made from non-toxic polyurethanes and cork (a renewable resource).

Many years ago, before it was cool (in the early 1990's) I developed my current enviro-safe orthotics materials and fabrication process. Here's why: I personally make orthotics and work with the materials, as well as supply colleagues with the visco elastic polymer orthotics supplies so that they can fabricate orthotics. It's important to me that the technicians have a safe working environment. Also, during those years, my wife and baby were in the office during much of the day, and I wanted to ensure their health.  An added plus is that my Footform orthotics last for many years (5 to 10 years) and I am confident that my clients are using a safe product.  

If you're looking for a safe and effective orthotics material, contact me and I will talk with you about my orthotics materials and supplies. I named the product Viscork (TM), and it is packaged for distribution.  

Randall Barna 541-389-4547

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Keep Your Balance on Your Feet and In Your Life

Having good balance keeps you from falling down. And I'm not only talking about tripping and falling. Balance goes beyond your feet and relates to your life. A commitment to balance in all things helps with your life. Balance is all about movement, continually finding that sweet-spot between two extremes.

Here's an example: Imagine a teeter-totter or see-saw, the children's toy in many playgrounds. If one side is over-loaded the teeter-totter gets stuck on one side and movement stops. The eventual outcome of less movement for the human body is a sedentary life that can result in a wheelchair. 

Physical skills for balance: (Here are the 2 main skills most of us have.)
  • Feel for the ground: Sensing your foot you are aware of where the pressures of your weight is on your foot. The more foot you have on the ground, the more stable you are in most cases. Experiment with movement heel-to-toe and inner-to-outer side of your foot, especially when walking.
  • Vision: Most people rely on their vision for balance. When vision tilts the body corrects. Try closing your eyes and walking around (in a safe place) to see how much you rely on your vision.
  • Inner Ear: Not under our control.
Our goal is to use both visual skills and your feel for the ground. Here are some tips to improve your balance:
  • Walk backwards: Your feel for the ground is enhanced because you can't see where you're going.
  • Orthotics: The point of a foot orthotic is to increase your feel for the ground (not just cushion your foot). The exact 3-D matching contour between orthotic and foot helps you sense any movements and to make adjustments so that you keep your balance.