The following were four questions posed by a potential Stockist interested in our product. I thought some of you might appreciate this information too:
Q1: How did you overcome the usual changes to the windlass mechanism in gait synonymous with the use of flip-flops?
We have three particular aspects to maintain normal function of the windlass mechanism in comparison to standard thongs: 1) the strap configuration 2) the orthotic contour and 3) the neuromuscular response to our bilaminated construction.
1) Our straps are tighter with a different configuration to avoid toe grabbing. Toe grabbing would counteract the windlass mechanism. (Note: some people will need to get used to the tighter strap)
2) The inbuilt orthotic contour helps maintain better biomechanics, leading into normal windlass response on push off.
3) The increased neuromuscular activation by equilibras™ adds to normal function and natural support during gait facilitating a proper windlass response. In addition, being an open shoe with a flexible sole, there is always adequate toe dorsiflexion available for proper windlass as opposed to hard sole footwear.
Q2: If the footwear has a high shock absorption level, how is the ability to feel the ground (proprioception) increased given the surface will be exactly the same on each strike of the ground?
Shock absorption is where this invention really comes into it's own: simplified there are two types of direct shock absorption in the foot: 1) vertical and 2) horizontal (I like to call it dispersive). The vertical shock absorption is the one where we have been running into problems in our modern urban environment with soft soles and proprioceptive distortion/deprivation. This has lead to heel strike when planting the foot, it exaggerates rear foot distortion and increases injuries during gait. It is not the fact that a surface is consistent that creates these problems with proprioception when striking the ground, but rather the softness of the sole, which robs the nervous system of knowing, exactly where the ground is. It will therefore strike harder in order to get that feedback, thus increasing heel strike and consequently injury rates. The surface consistency however, will affect proprioceptive input through its lack of novelty and as a result affect proprioceptive afferentiation in the neo-cortex and thus lead to poor brain mapping amongst other things. equilibras™ through its bilaminated construction appears novel to the nervous system with each step over and over again, even though the underlying contour doesn't change (This is one of the gems that took the Japanese Government’s neurologists a year to figure out!!) It is now becoming clear from various research papers that horizontal shock absorption, which essentially means absorption along the arches as naturally intended, is correlated with reduced injuries. You'll find on wearing equilibras™ that they feel firmer than standard thongs. They do incorporate both types of shock absorption in a configuration mimicking natural surfaces. As a result, the nervous system recognises this aspect as normal and can deal with it accordingly.
Q3: How would this form of footwear differ from placing a custom made, flexible orthotic on a standard flip-flop?
The difference between a custom made orthotic thong and equilibras™ is that firstly our product is much cheaper than the custom made products you are mentioning. We also found that the majority of people rate our product much more aesthetically pleasing as it is modelled in looks on the "ever green" flat-sole beach thong. Also if you compare the literature on custom made vs generic orthotic supports there is basically no difference in performance except, due to manufacture reasons, custom made is much more pricy. Further a generic product is more versatile in its applications. And last but not least, our design is unique and patented. It is also TGA registered as a class 1 medical device and has more features than most other comparable devices.
Q4: Are you suggesting that these will improve foot function over time or merely support it?
Obviously we have not been around long enough to make longitudinal claims regarding foot improvements by equilibras™, but we have repeatedly shown significant consistent and immediate functional improvements in our research. I have been discussing the principles and the make up of equilibras™ for countless hours with specialists and neurologists and have had consensus and good support by them for my claims. If you consider the neurological ramifications and the fact that in simple terms equilibras™ mimic natural surfaces, it is very likely that they will improve and maintain foot health also in the long run, thus combatting the steady decline we experience these days from constant flat hard surfaces. If that message makes sense it really flows from there that everyone in our urban environment should wear some sort of foot bed with the novel features of equilibras™!!