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Monday, December 1, 2003



[ HAWAII AT WORK ]


art
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM


A happy foot
is a major feat

If the shoe doesn't fit,
Russell Pate can help


I'm a pedorthist, a certified shoe fitter. I measure and evaluate feet. I analyze foot and shoe problems and make custom insoles to relieve foot aches and pains. I help athletes, diabetics, arthritics, people with foot problems and folks who stand all day at work.

After years working in medical sales, I interned with a pedorthist in San Jose, Calif., to earn my credential. I moved to Hawaii after a 1998 vacation, when I noticed all the athletes around. I thought I could help all these runners and walkers with their foot and shoe problems, so I started business here as The Shoe Doctor.

I keep office hours at the Running Room in Kapahulu and at Runner's HI in Aiea.

The most common foot problem is people wearing shoes that are too small or the wrong shape, length and width. Not to pick on women, but their feet are just not shaped for pointy toes and high heels. I like to trace a woman's foot and put her shoe on top of it. It really hits home when she sees how the foot overlaps the shoe. I tell her, "Yeah, that'd be a great shoe if you only had four toes."

There are a number of foot myths. First, foot pain is normal -- not true. Second, knee and back pain has nothing to do with your feet -- also untrue, it could start with your feet. Third, your shoe size is the same for every pair you buy -- that's false, too.

Pay attention if your feet hurt. When they're sore, pain travels up to your legs, knees, back and torso -- what's called the kinetic chain that ties your body together. That means the wrong footwear, and poor foot alignment, affects your whole body and how you feel. You could develop bunions, corns and black toenails or feel numbness or burning.

About your shoe size: You don't have one. You have a foot measurement that's a guide. Shoes are like clothing: The size varies depending on the style, cut and manufacturer.

I start by measuring feet and doing a computer analysis to map them. My scanner analyses the contours of each foot to make a perfect footprint. Then the foot scan is transmitted to a computer that does a weight-bearing analysis. Your foot map shows the high-pressure points in red and how the stress points would be reduced with custom insoles. I use the map to make those inserts.

It's satisfying when people tell me my insoles keep them mobile and healthy. A diabetic with arch problems told me she went to China and walked for miles. A postal worker said he now had no excuse not to exercise.

You go through many pairs of shoes in your life, but only one pair of feet. Make them happy feet.

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