Jolly Old Soles

January 27, 2010

About ten years ago the arches on my feet fell. The first indication of this was a heel spur that developed on my right foot. The spur was successfully reduced in size through a series of ultrasound treatments at my favorite chiropractor's office. When a spur appeared on my left foot it too was reduced via ultrasound. At the time I didn't realize that the spurs were symptoms of fallen arches, I thought they were the result of ten years in the martial arts.

In 2005 my big toes started to hurt, eventually quiet painfully. It felt like I had jammed them somehow but nothing I did released them or relieved the pain. When I described the pain to my new chiropractor she had me take my shoes off and stand up for her. She immediately said, "fallen arches." Turns out there is a tendon the runs from the heel of the foot to the base of the big toe and a fallen arch stretches this tendon. At first my body tried to strengthen the heel end of the tendon by adding calcium to the area, resulting in the heel spurs. Now the constant pulling against my big toes makes them hurt unless I wear a good arch support.

Unless you have orthopedic supports made for you, an expensive proposition, there really aren't too many good arch supports available. Most are "cushioned insoles" which simply don't work. On our first trip to Germany in 2007, Sibylle and I found a pair of arch supports in a large department store in Stuttgart that I have worn ever since. The brand name is Bama, a company ultimately owned by Sara Lee. They are made out of leather with a very stiff arch support. The arch is rigid and doesn't flex or give. Adding these arch supports to my shoes provided immediate relief. They are simply fantastic.

That first year we only bought one pair, and I  moved them from shoe to shoe every day. In 2008 when we returned to Europe I bought four pairs, one for each pair of my shoes. The original pair, now a year old, moved full-time to my slippers.

We are now on our third trip together to Europe, and I am planning on buying at least four new pair of supports. The original pair, now approach two and a half years of age, still have a strong arch, even if the surrounding leather is starting to fall apart. Since I can't find these in the States I want to stock up while we are here so I'll have a supply of replacements. Having a pair of these supports in every show I wear, including my slippers, has all but eliminated the constant big toe pain I had before.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.