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Stability Maneuver Not So Ideal

First rant of the year: I hate the smell of snake oil …

Your ol, broken-down pal Spook has had some achy feets lately, due in no small part, I’m sure, to sneaking about in cheap sneakers with zero arch support. Now, I have been led to understand that a lot of folks seem happy with arch supports sold by the Ideal Feet Store, so I paid a visit to one near my office.

I had tried other arch supports with mixed results, but I was willing to give the “Foot-ologists” at Ideal Feet the benefit of the doubt. That benefit ran out, however, when mine invoked The Force to check my balance. This is what’s called the “stability maneuver”. I hate the smell of snake oil.

Here is what transpired …

The footie-o-whatsits lady first had me cup my hands together in front of my body and lock my arms. She pushed down and -oh dear- my heels rose up. Physics explanation here

She then told me to put my arms behind my back and interlace my fingers, which is something I’ve never been told to do before, forget the stories. She pushed down on my palms, and -horror- I toppled backward. She explained that I lacked a “firm foundation” and was therefore “out of balance”.

Now, in the absence of a trayful of Jello shots, balance is not something that can be easily or quickly measured. See here, here, and here if you don’t believe me.

The Ideal Feet sales person’s “balance test” was a variation on the so-called Power Bracelet balance test, which some purport to be a valid applied kinesiology test, if there is such a thing, but equates to little more than a parlor trick.

By applying subtle force away from my body as she pushed down on my palms, she basically pulled me backward and, of course, I toppled right over. Slick, but I waited to see how this played out.

She left me to enjoy a vibrating foot massage -that made my teeth itch- while she disappeared to select a pair of inserts. She returned after about 5 minutes, placed the inserts on the floor, and asked me to stand on them. She performed the behind-the-back balance test again and -joy and miracles- my equilibrium was suddenly and incredibly rock solid. I had achieved perfect symmetry which no amount of force could overcome. Try as she might, I was un-topple-able.

Just as slyly as she had pulled backwards during our first “test”, on the second round she pushed straight down without imparting any horizontal force. No added pitch, no crashing end over appetite.

I don’t have a problem with the folks at Ideal Feet, and I don’t doubt that their inserts are helpful to some people. I am, however, of the belief that a product that fulfills its promise will stand on its own without the need for clever parlor tricks. This and more I imparted to the room at large as I re-laced my shoes and made my exit ahead of the manager-types who were giving me the stink eye.

At worst, my opinion of the Ideal Feet Store now ranks between getting fitted for a magnetic “power” bracelet and shopping for thunderstorm pills. At best, they’re suspect. And I do suspect. I suspect I’ll be making an appointment with a real foot doc to have a look at the old paws. I suspect he’ll tell me to stop buying $4 sneakers out of the back of a rental truck on the side of the road.