||The Agony of dFeet
by Clare Coppa
Foot problems plague the sedentary as well as the athletic, gourmands
as well as gourmets. Age, obesity, and non-exercise are factors,
but the biggest problem is that most people neglect their feet.
Less than five percent of the population has ever seen a podiatrist,
said Tom Brunick, a member of ASTM Subcommittee F08.54 on Athletic
Footwear. Ankle-deep in athletic footwear testing and design since
1976, Brunick is director of Advanced Concepts, American Sporting
Goods, Naperville, Ill.
The feet are the foundation of the body, he said from a footwear
lab at North Central College in Naperville. Yet in America, most
people have never really had a good foot exam. So most people
turn to shoes as a way to deal with their foot discomfort.
Its mostly a problem-oriented situation, explained Bruce G.
Greenfield, DPM, chief of Podiatric Surgery, Delaware County Memorial
Hospital, Drexel Hill, Pa. You go when you have pain.
Some people have problems with their feet and dont realize that
your feet arent supposed to hurt, he said from his Havertown,
Pa., office. A lot of times people go for years without getting
treatment. By the time they finally get treated, its worse. Its
been there for a long time. Its arthritis, or chronic tendonitis,
problems like that.
From drugstore shoe-inserts under $20 to infomercial orthotics
at $200, Brunicks consumer-wear testing indicates that most people
self-medicate their feet without consulting a doctor. Now if
we said that about teeth, about eyes, about ears, everybody would
be shocked by that, Brunick averred. If you think about it statistically,
more people have foot problems than eye problems in America today.
Its the most self-medicated part of the body.
Working as a consumer advocate, Brunick spreads his footwear expertise
like a sneakered octopus, touching the medical community, retailers,
and consumers. He shares test data at lectures with podiatry associations
and medical colleges around the world. He educates retailers about
fitting. He is a consultant for pro-sports teams. A former footwear
editor of Runners World for ten years, he is footwear editor for
Bergmann Orthotic Labs, Northfield, Ill., and consultant/contributor
to Tennis Magazine. With ASTM Committee F08 on Sports Equipment and Facilities, he assists in the development
of voluntary consensus standards that promote optimum design and
manufacture of athletic footwear.
Make an educated purchase, Brunick advised. Your old shoes have
a story to tell and you should bring them in when you go to buy
a new pair, he said. Because a good shoe fitter will look at
your old shoes and look at your insoles and how you carry pressure
through your gait. Theyll look at the upper of the shoe and if
it breaks down in any particular place. Theyll look at the outsole-wear
patterns. And then they can actually show you some shoes that
would match up to what you seem to need in a shoe.
The problem is that most people that come in dont bring their
old shoes; dont know their functional foot type because theyve
never been to a podiatrist or a medical professional and have
never had a foot screening, he concluded. Theyre just going
to buy a shoe [based] on either who advertised the most, or the
color, or because their friend likes the shoe. And thats when
people get into problems.
Copyright 2002, ASTM