While standing in line at my local Peet’s, a fit-looking woman in workout gear noticed my Divadend pumps and asked where I purchased them. I enthusiastically replied the shoes are my own brand and stepped out of one to show her up close, she exclaimed “You have bunions!”. She has bunions as well and was delighted to discover that not only the shoes fit but also camouflage bunions.
I’ve had bunions for as long as I can remember. In my early 20s while being fitted for ski boots, I was surprised to learn my foot shape, I took for granted, was considered irregular. And no, my bunions are not the result of wearing the wrong shoes. It drives me crazy when people imply I caused them. I definitively knew the shape of my foot was genetic, predisposing my bunions, when I noticed the same foot shape on my 10 year old daughter.
Before we started Divadend I spent many nights with achy bunions. Mornings would start with me surveying my shoe selection to decide which shoes I could bear to wear that day and then planning an outfit accordingly. In fact, that’s how Caroline and I came up with the concept that Divadend would end the debate between the shoes we love and the shoes we wear. I certainly wasn’t loving the shoes I was choosing to accommodate my achy bunions.
Around the time we started formulating the idea to start Divadend, I began seeing physical therapist Kathi Fairbend MS. RPT. for posture-related issues. Since she is one of the most knowledgeable people about the human body that I’ll ever meet, I shared the idea of starting Divadend. I expected her to question how would be able to start a shoe line with a full time career, three young kids and no prior experience in footwear or any related industry. Instead, Kathi enthusiastically replied that she would be happy to advise us about anatomy and ergonomics because she felt like we would fill an important void in women’s footwear options. Then she said, “I have spent time in shoe factories with my father who was shoe manufacturer. As a result, I understand sizing and the importance of the foot bed. I see the results every day in patients that have poorly made and poorly fitting shoes”. It was an exhilarating moment when I felt like we were going to really make this happen. And we did!
As Kathi worked with me as both my physical therapist and an advisor to Divadend, she pointed out that I, like many people with bunions, wasn’t engaging my toes when I walked. When you don’t engage your toes, you lose muscle strength and flexibility in your feet resulting in decreased balance and increased development of the bunions as the mobility and arches deteriorate increasing foot pain.
Over the past several years, we have developed over 30 iterations of the Greenway pump to get the construction and fit just right. There were early versions when I would begrudgingly admit my feet killed after wearing shoes intended to be comfortable. Each time we got stuck with why a version of the shoe that wasn’t performing, we would take that version to Kathi who would patiently diagnose that the pitch was too steep or the toe box too low or any one of dozens of other shortcomings we corrected.
During a physical therapy appointment the other day, Kathi remarked that my feet have become stronger and more flexible. A large part of my improvement is due to wearing Divadend shoes almost every day. Now my toes engage when I walk and the arch support takes pressure off the bunion area. Also, I’ve developed a habit, when barefoot in the shower, to manually arrange my big toes in a straight position and simultaneously grip the tile floor with all my toes which helps strengthen the muscles in my arch. During standing mat work in Pilates class, I repeat my barefoot shower routine and notice improved balance.
The easy steps of wearing shoes with a foot bed, that allows normal stance, as Divadend shoes do, that engage your toes allowing a normal gait and doing some simple strengthening exercises can result in improvements in balance, mobility and decreased pain levels.
Do order a pair now and see how comfortable your feet will be ALL day!