Don’t forget your feet

With year round perfect weather, Cayman is a paradise for flip-flop fans. Yet flat flip flops (say that five times quickly!) are far from ideal for anyone with the slightest bit of biomechanical issues, and that would be most of us.

As fun as flip flops are, research has shown that they can place more strain on the feet, which can over time lead to various other aches, pains and injuries, including knee pain, hip pain, and even lower back pain.

 Bit of a problem that – you can’t exactly wear a pair of proper supportive shoes to the beach, at least not without garnering a couple of strange looks along the way. Yet undoing all the good work your expensive running shoes have been doing with a couple of days on the beach does seem like an awful waste.

 “We live in the Caribbean, and there is no way people want to wear shoes with foot supports all day,” says Ray Anthony, specialist in residence at Sole Solutions. This is why when he started the company, one of the key ingredients was finding shoes, and especially flip flops, that can help support the work of the corrective orthotics he creates.

 A selection of guinea pigs later, and Sole platinum flip flops won out. Although he is quick to point of that these flip flops will not serve the same role as corrective orthotics, they will at least not undo the work of the orthotics and could assist those with foot issues to remain relatively pain free.

 And speaking of orthotics, the technology used to create these is just mind-blowing. To analyse the gait of patients at the Gait and Posture Centre, which forms part of Sole Solutions, Dr Ray uses an instrumented treadmill that uses 5,000 sensors under the running platform to record foot pressures on each stride to give a clear picture of what the foot goes through, in combination with video of the feet and ankles to during the stride.

 “The synching on the cinematic data with the kinetic data is what makes the system unique,” says Ray.

 Once areas of concern have been pinpointed, it is on to yet another neat piece of equipment – a highly sophisticated automated orthotic system used by Cayman Orthotics, another sub division of Sole Solutions.

 “We take casts of the feet, do a digital scan, and then with software we can manipulate the image of the foot to put prescriptions in. Then we have a robot that builds the shape of the foot, over which we press the materials so that we can get a very accurate prescription. We’ve now got an on-island, commercial level foot orthotics laboratory where we can manufacture foot supports within a matter of days,” says Ray.

 Compared to orthotics that are manufactured off island and usually take a couple of weeks to arrive, it is very good news for those dealing with pain related to their foot problems.

 Foot problems do not necessarily lead to foot pain either.

 “There’s a lot of research that shows that abnormal foot function can be the prime cause of knee pain and in particular low back pain,” says Ray.

 However, not all foot problems require custom orthotics, which is why Sole Solutions stock a range of off the shelf solutions, from Birkenstocks to the aforementioned Sole flip flops and a variety of insoles to help correct minor difficulties. The store also stocks Aetrex ladies sandals, which allow the fitting of an orthotic in a sandal without it being obvious.

 “We’ve also got orthotics here for fashion shoes, that can take pressure off the ball of the foot,” says Ray.

 Louise Craig, the operations manager at Sole Solution, has a Bachelor of Science degree in podiatry, so can help customers find the right off the shelf solution where custom orthotics are not required.

For more information on Sole Solutions, call 749-7653.

Don