1. There has been a recent slide of practitioners away from the use of orthotics.

Do you believe orthotics have a place in lower limb health?

Short answer is Yes. But to dig deeper.. what is your long term plan to get your client out of orthotics?

If you determine a need to support and alter the function of multiple joints.. What is your plan to return full strength and function to those same joints?

Not all feet can be returned to being Powerful Workhorses and not all people are willing to put the work in for this to be achieved.. But if you build a clinic around Strengthening and Training optimum foot function the motivated clientele will be the majority rather than the exception.

  1. Can you give an overview/outline of your theory or beliefs when it comes to foot strength and orthotic use?

Each foot has 20 Muscles + 33 movable Joints.. Plus 13 more muscles in the leg that attach into each Foot. There is incredible untapped potential in these joints and muscles to function efficiently and be Strong Powerful SPRINGS.. But only if you and your client are willing to invest in a true solution to their dysfunction.

Orthotics CANNOT strengthen feet.. It is physiologically impossible to use artificial support and restriction of movement to attain increased strength as an outcome. But orthotics can de-load tissue to allow healing.

My StrongFeet Program aims to restore lost Mobility, Coordination, Balance and Proprioception, and then layer Strength on these solid foundations. If I use orthotics to de-load injured tissue or accommodate a true foot deformity I will still use the principles of StrongFeet to improve function and create less reliance on the artificial support.. removing the orthotics altogether when possible.

3.The evidence for particular conditions such as knee OA and HAV prevention is reasonably strong for offloading devices is this still a condition you would look to use orthotics for?

Yes, orthotic therapy can be used to de-load damaged tissue in both knee OA and HAV.. But I will still go after improving foot, leg and torso function to improve a client’s ability to stand, walk and run.. whenever possible.

  1. In today’s society many people are looking for a quick fix, your practice in particular has patients which may be more determined to complete strength and conditioning as a primary modality of rehab…what would be your suggestion to other practitioners?

Ask yourself who your 3 favorite clients are. Dig deep into why these people are your 3 favorite clients. Then set about filling your clinic with more of these people. For me, my 3 favorite clients are all awesome humans first and foremost.. They have all achieved what others told them they could not.. And they are dominating life while others around them marvel at their achievements. The crazy thing is they do not understand what is so special about what they are doing.

Many practitioners think they cannot control who walks through their clinic door. Until you change that mindset you are absolutely correct. And if you are happy working with weak, lazy, unmotivated clientele wanting a quick fix, that is fine also. I choose not to work with these people as they do not inspire me and I cannot help them become truly awesome.

5.There has been a rise in barefoot debate since 2005, what are your thoughts on barefoot running and the athletic footwear market?

The athletic footwear industry is structured on sales and marketing, as all businesses should be. Just as fast food companies are not truly concerned with what food products are the best option for long term health, I believe athletic footwear companies are not very concerned (or perhaps educated) on long term foot health.

Their job is to be one step ahead of their competitors in marketing the latest greatest unnecessary piece of “technology”.. generally sold as a miraculous performance enhancing wondrous savior.

And just like making good food choices is not always easy in our fast paced convenience above hard work society, the same can be said of footwear design. It is about a magic pill or quick fix rather than truly helping feet work better.

If the mainstream athletic footwear industry truly cared about our feet the widest point of their shoes would be the toes. It seems pretty obvious that shoes, especially athletic shoes, should be the same shape as our feet. But they make them pointed at the toes.. More like a triangle than our actual rectangular shaped shoes. And yes, this has a HUGE influence on foot and leg function.

As for Barefoot Running I actually do not care if you run barefoot or not.. But I do care that nearly every runner I have ever treated has incredibly WEAK Feet. Strong Powerful Feet should be the primary aim for every runner.

While I do not suggest everyone should be barefoot running I am a HUGE fan of Barefoot LIVING! Ditch the big clumpy pointy high heeled shoes you wear to work (that includes you men) and start using your feet the way they were intended.

  1. If that is the case why do you believe the top athletic shoe developers such as; Brookes, ASICS, NIKE, NB, Mizuno and Adidas use a similar last design?

It makes money. Not many people wear gloves that are a different shape to their hands. They don’t squeeze the tips of their fingers into pointy mittens. But we as consumers accept this is okay for our toes to be squished and squashed into pointy shaped running shoes.

If companies who made real “foot-shaped” shoes like Lems, Skora, Topo Athletic, VIVOBAREFOOT, etc. actually put a dent in the market the big brands would either buy them out.. or make the same shoe, stick a swoosh on it and probably put them out of business.

One thought on “Challenging Footwear Perceptions: An Interview With Tim Brandson

  1. “Orthotics CANNOT strengthen feet” – all the published evidence says they do. Why do people make such public statements that is contradicted by the evidence? Should not be speaking/writing on issues if not familiar with the body of literature that underpins it. Fail.

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