The disclosure of U.S. provisional patent 60/680,232 filed May 12, 2005 (the priority of which is claimed) is incorporated in this proposal.
The present invention relates to a process for measuring each person's foot alignment needs to be used for a new method of making foot orthotics and applying those needs to footwear, including but not limited to everyday shoes, work shoes, sneakers, roller blades, ice skates, ski boots, etc. It includes a foot measuring device and an angle measuring device for measuring footwear to make the process more accurate.
Present methods for making foot orthotics do an excellent job of supporting the foot in a side to side or laterally balanced position by holding the foot in a sub-taler neutral position, as it is commonly called. There is another aspect of the foot that needs to be taken into consideration in giving a person the best possible balance and mobility; the structure of the foot's bones and their joint spacing due to the position they are forced into by the surface the foot rests upon in a vertical direction. The surface the foot rests upon can enhance or hinder each person's ability to balance, absorb impact with their feet, and move fluidly. Each person has an optimum position in which their feet function the best in addition to being sub-taler neutral, due to the bones being vertically neutral which attains the optimum joint spacing between the bones of the foot by the correct placement in the same or different planes of the heel and forefoot (heel to forefoot differential) and also the angles of the surface the foot rests upon. Sometimes it is when the forefoot and heel sit on the same plane the foot has the best joint spacing. Other times the foot needs to have the heel in a different plane than the forefoot and the amount varies among individuals. Also the heel, which is controlled for inversion and eversion with a conventional foot orthotic, sometimes needs to rest at a different angle vertically than is provided by the surface within the footwear that it rests upon to get the best joint spacing between the bones of the foot. The said proposed process refines current foot orthotic production and the adjustment of footwear to maximize each person's ability to balance, absorb impact with their feet, and move fluidly. Once the orthotic is made in the correct position the surface it rests upon within the footwear needs to be adjusted accordingly.
The stimulus and prior art for this invention comes from a book The Athletic Skier in which the authors Warren Witherell and David Evrard on pages 26, 28, and 41 discuss a way of measuring a persons heel to forefoot differential by having said person stand on various thicknesses of stacks of paper and then the person sensing their balance.
A prior provisional patent US60/647,602 was filed Jan. 27, 2005 by Michael Pupko for an adjustable ski boot based on the principles outlined in The Athletic Skier but it lacked methods and measuring devices to accurately determine the needs of a person's foot and determine accurately the angles of the surface in the footwear that the foot rests upon.
This proposed process is an improvement in that through flexing the ankles forward and articulating the ankles side to side on a foot measuring device one is assured that the person not only has the best balance but also the most mobility in the feet and ankles. In any prior art that has been researched of methods of producing foot orthotics and working with other person's custom made foot orthotics, none appear to accommodate for the need of a heel to forefoot differential. As the heel to forefoot differential changes, so too does the contour of the foot's arch. If a foot orthotic is made flat and then placed in footwear with a raised heel, said foot orthotic no longer follows the foot's contour correctly. This proposed process is superior to previous art in that it gives an accurate way of measuring the foot's optimum position, ensuring the foot orthotic is built in that optimum position, and that the footwear holds the foot alone or with foot orthotic in the optimum position.
Currently most foot orthotics are made with an impression of the foot made with the ankle in sub-taler neutral and the foot flat on the floor, possibly not being the optimum position to correctly align all of the bones in the feet. Other methods are used measuring the foot but not through testing the range of motion. This proposed process positions a person's foot on a range of differing surfaces to find the position in which a person's balance and mobility in the feet and ankles is the optimum. This process determines if the person requires the forefoot and heel to be in the same plane (whole foot flat on the floor) or different planes (heel higher than forefoot) for optimum mobility and balance. Testing is done by first setting the heel on a wedge that is positioned to correct inversion or eversion if it exists in the individual's feet. The person is then tested for balance and range of motion in the feet resting on a flat surface by gently articulating, (rolling) the feet and ankles side to side, and flexing their ankles to move their shins as far forward as comfortable. Next, the heel is raised above the plane of the forefoot in increments using a foot measuring device and at each increment a comparison is made for more or less mobility of ankles side to side, more or less able to flex the shins forward, and upright balance. If the mobility, flexion, and balance decrease, one stops and knows that the optimum position for those feet are with the heel and forefoot in the previous position. If the mobility, flexion, and balance increase, the heel is continually raised until the mobility and flexion and upright balance start to decrease again, then one goes back to where the individual feels it was optimum and that is the position they should be in the footwear. This method relies on the individual's own feelings much like an eye exam relies on an individual to know where their vision appears the best. The angle of the heel to forefoot differential can then be measured using a device that is adjustable to the distance between for example the fifth metatarsal head and center of the heel but not limited to those points.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The next measurement would be to change the angle fore/aft of the part of the measuring device that the heel rests upon, thus changing the angle on which the heel rests. The angle of the heel that provides the optimum mobility and flexion of the foot and ankle and uptight balance would be the angles at which the foot orthotic casting mold surface would be set at that the foot ultimately rests upon to get the impression of the foot. The person would be seated with the knee at 90 degrees, with the lower leg positioned at 90 degrees to the floor, and the ankle in sub-taler neutral. The foot is then pressed straight down into the molding material along the axis of the lower leg. This measured angle of heel to forefoot differential and heel angle would also be incorporated into the relationship between the forefoot and heel of the footwear to prevent the foot, whether on a foot orthotic or not, to be placed out of balance.
FIG. 1 is a top view of a person's feet resting upon a foot measuring device.
FIG. 2 is a front view of a person's feet being shown articulated to one side to test for range of motion.
FIG. 3 is the side view of a person's foot and foot measuring device used to measure heel to forefoot differential and the angles the foot rests upon. This device can also be used for the base for making an impression of the foot for the orthotic.
FIG. 4 is a view of a device for preparing a foam casting block for making a foot orthotic.
FIG. 5 is a view of an angle measuring device for measuring the heel to forefoot differential and the surfaces within the footwear the foot rests upon.
FIG. 6 is a cutaway view of an article of footwear within which an angle measuring device in FIG. 5 being used.
FIG. 7 is a cutaway view of an article of footwear within which said angle measuring device in FIG. 5 inverted can be used to measure the angle of the surface the heel rests upon.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 8 is a flow chart of the process and devices embodied in this invention.
FIG. 1 shows the placement of a standing person's feet on a foot measuring device 14. The length of the heel 15 rests upon an adjustable surface 13 with forward part of said heel aligned with forward edge 17 of said adjustable surface 13, and the fore foot 16 rests upon a surface 12. Adjustable surface 13 can be adjusted up and down in a parallel plane with the floor and at an angle to said plane of floor, either by having multiple layers of material (70,71,72, 78 as shown in FIG. 3) or by any mechanized means (not shown).
The importance for this measuring device is not how the height relationship between surface 12 and surface 13 is adjusted but that they are adjustable so that starting with them level in the same plane and then changing the height difference one can test the mobility in the person's feet 11 in a range of positions and find the optimum heel to forefoot differential. Another version could make surface 12 adjustable and surface 13 stationary.
FIG. 2 shows the legs 25 and 25 a and feet 30 and 30 a of a person standing on a surface 26. By articulating the ankles 27 and 27 a gently toward points 28 and 28 a and then in the opposite direction one can test the range of articulation in the feet and ankles. The position of the feet where the maximum articulation along with the best forward flex and the best overall balance is achieved is what this foot measuring device is used to determine.
FIG. 3 shows the side view of foot measuring device in FIG. 1 using multiple layers of material to adjust differences in height. 60 is a flat platform firmly fixed to a frame 61 on a minimum of two sides of platform 60, with screws 62 and 63 or any other suitable, permanent fastener. A slideable platform 64 rests on end 79 of frame 61 or slides into a track built into end 79 of frame 61 (not shown). A moveable plate 69 rests on top surface of 60 so that the upper surface of plate 69 and the upper surface of slideable platform 64 are at the same exact level. Different sizes of flat material shown as but not limited in quantity to 70, 71 and 72 are placed in gap 73 between flat platform 60 and plate 69 to attain various height differentials between platform 64 and plate 69. Additionally wedge 78 can be slid in varying degrees into gap 73 to change the angle of plate 69. Plate 69 is attached to plate 75 at a pivot joint or hinge 74. This allows for different amounts of plate 75 to be exposed above the level of slideable platform 64 to correspond with the length of the arch 80 of a person's foot 65. 76 is the heel portion and 77 indicates the metatarsal heads of foot 65. 66 is the person's lower leg showing how said lower leg can be flexed forward from normally standing point 67 to forward flexed point 68.
FIG. 4 shows an invention 99 to accurately alter a casting foam block 100 (prior art for obtaining an impression of the sole of a person's foot) to correspond with the optimum position determined using foot measuring device depicted in FIG. 3. Pictured is a flat platform 101 which is at least as large as casting foam block 100. On one end of platform 101 is a frame 102 which wraps around to include two sides on either side of the end of platform 101. On each of the two sides of frame 102 are two slots 103 which allow frame 102 to be adjusted from flush with the top surface of platform 101 to for example about one inch above the top surface of platform 101. To fix frame 102 at a certain level, fasteners such as but not limited to depicted wing screws 104 are inserted through slots 103 and secured into platform 101. In either side of frame 102 are grooves 105 and 106 which allow a thin, rigid cutter 107 to be slid back and forth in the directions shown at arrows 109 and 119. On one side of platform 101 is another thin, rigid cutter 108 which is longs enough to reach across platform 101 when it is slid in the direction of arrow 110. To guide thin, rigid cutter 108 there is a support such as but not limited to a groove or track 112 built into fixture 111 which is fashioned so it can be adjustably attached to the side of platform 101 by a fastener such as but not limited to a wing screw 113 which passes through hole 114 in fixture 111 and then screws into a female nut (not shown because it is behind fixture 111 in picture) which is held in a T slot 115. This allows for fixture 111 to be set at a variety of angles.
FIG. 5 shows an angle measuring device for measuring the angle of the heel to forefoot differential once it has been determined with the foot measuring device described in FIG. 3. The angle measuring device is also used to measure the angles of the surface inside of footwear that the foot rests upon. It consists of four pieces of flat, rigid material 30, 31, 32, 33 which are pivotly fastened together at points 36, 37, 38, 39 with fasteners which allow the pieces to attain a range of positions. Flat piece 30 is tall enough to reach into any footwear and allow flat piece 31 to remain exposed above the footwear's cuff. Flat piece 32 at 40 is slightly longer than flat piece 30 but the distance between pivot points 36 and pivot point 38 on flat piece 30 are the exactly the same as the distance between pivot point 37 and pivot point 39 on flat piece 32 so that flat piece 32 extends below flat piece 33 shown at the end 40. Flat piece 31 is of a length that would fit forward into most footwear, for example three inches long. The distance between the pivot point 36 and pivot point 37 on flat piece 31 are the exact same distance apart as pivot point 38 and pivot point 39 on flat piece 33 which is longer than flat piece 31 so the portion 41 can slice into an enclosed forefoot of footwear and reach where the metatarsal heads of the foot rest. Flat piece 35 is attached to flat piece 33 on portion 41 in a suitable arrangement so that fiat piece 35 can be adjusted along portion 41 of flat piece 33. The length of flat piece 35 allows it to extend below flat piece 33 exactly the same distance as the end 40 of flat piece 32. A degree level 34, prior art, is either set on or attached to the top of flat piece 31 for measuring the angle of a piece of footwear between where the heel and the metatarsal heads rest.
FIG. 6 shows angle measuring device from FIG. 5 as 55. 54 is a piece of footwear, with thick line 51 being the surface inside the footwear which a foot rests upon. 52 is the point of surface 51 that the metatarsal heads rest upon and 53 is the point of said surface that the heel rests upon. 50 is the position that the angle measuring device 55 attains when resting upon the surface 51 and is then read with degree level 56, prior art.
FIG. 7 depicts a piece of footwear 54 with the surface upon which the foot rests as thick line 51. The portion of surface 51 that the heel rests upon is 53. Angle measuring device from FIGS. 5 and 6 is 55. Degree gauge, prior art, is 56. The position angle measuring device 55 attains while resting upon surface where heel rests 53 is shown as 57.
FIG. 8 is a flow chart of the process and the use of the said devices described above. To try to make it clearer, all pictured items in flow chart have new numbers that remain the same throughout the chart but corresponding numbers from previous drawings are given in parenthesis to make cross referencing easier. Picture I shows a foot 202 in a normal stance on loot measuring device 204 (FIG. 1, 14). Picture II shows foot measuring device 208 (FIG. 3) in optimum position for foot 206 in corrected stance. Picture III shows foot 202 on flat surface 210 with angle measuring device 212 (FIG. 5) with flat piece 213 (FIG. 5, 40) and flat piece 214 (FIG. 5, 35) adjusted to correspond with foot 202's heel 209 (FIG. 3, 76) and metatarsal heads 211 (FIG. 3, 77). Picture IV shows foot measuring device 208 with angle measuring device 212 set upon it where the foot had been in correct position. Degree gauge 216, prior art, is set on top of angle measuring device 212 at 218 and angle is noted and where heel rests 220 and angle is noted. Picture V shows invention 222 (FIG. 4, 99) for altering foam casting block 224 (FIG. 4, 100) with altered foam casting block 226. The foam casting block is altered by cutter 221 (FIG. 4, 107) and diagonal cutter 223 (FIG. 4, 108) Picture VI shows altered foam casting block 2426 resting upon measuring device 208 and correctly aligned foot 206 pressed into it. Picture VII shows footwear 228 (FIG. 6, 54) with angle measuring device 212 set inside on surface foot rests upon with degree gauge 216 in position to make reading of heel to forefoot differential. Picture VIII shows angle measuring device inverted 230 (FIG. 7, 55) with degree gauge in position to measure angle of heel portion 229 of footwear 228. Picture IX shows footwear 228 with material 232 to give correct surface for foot to rest upon. Picture X shows foot orthotic 234 built correctly from foam casting block in Picture VI. Picture XI shows footwear 228 with corrected surface 232 and foot orthotic 234, all integrated as the finished product.
Process of Measuring Foot to Attain Optimum Balance, Making a Foot Orthotic in the Optimum Position, and Adjusting the Footwear.
The goal of this process is to provide a method and the tools to provide footwear and foot orthotics for people that provide them with the optimum balance and range of motion in their feet and ankles by providing the proper contour within the footwear for the feet to rest upon. The procedure for accomplishing this and using these inventions is described in the following steps;
- 1. FIG. 1 shows the proper placement of the feet upon a foot measuring device. There is a joint in the foot at the point where the forward end of the heel meets the rest of the foot. The heel 15 is placed upon the measuring device 14 with said joint where heel meets rest of foot placed at the forward edge 17 of the surface 13 the heel 15 rests upon.
- 2. The person feels for upright balance. To test for range of motion, FIG. 2 shows a person's feet 30 and 30 a resting upon a platform 26. The ankles 27 and 27 a are gently articulated towards points 28 and 28 a and the degree of difficulty or freedom is perceived. A good indication is how far the legs travel from their original position at 25 and 25 a towards points 29 and 29 a. The ankles are also gently articulated as far as possible in the opposite direction. FIG. 3 shows a person's foot 65 and leg 66. The leg 65 is flexed forward from point 67 as far as possible to point 68 without raising the heel 76 off plate 69 to determine the range of forward flex in the ankle. These three tests and any combinations thereof can be repeated as often as needed.
- 3. The foot measuring device in FIG. 3 is used is as follows; The person's foot 65 is placed initially on a flat surface on the foot measuring device with top of surface 64 and plate 69 being at the same level. First the person takes note of their balance and range of motion in the feet and ankles as described in Step 2. Next a piece or combination of pieces of material 70, 71, and 72 is placed in space 73 under plate 69. Foot 65 is again placed on measuring device with the front of heel 76 directly at pivot joint 74. The amount of plate 75 exposed above top of surface of slideable platform 64, which is positioned to butt on plate 75, is the same distance as the length of the arch 80 as measured from the front of heel 76 to just behind the metatarsal heads 77. As the person stands on this surface they again judge their feeling of balance and motion as described in Step 2 to feel if there is more or less ability balance, to articulate, and flex their lower leg forward. After experimenting with gradual changes of height between platform 64 and plate 69 the person will recognize where their optimum position is, very much as when going to an eye doctor a person knows where their vision is the best, by feeling the most in balance and also having the best range of motion articulating their feet and ankles and flexing forward. Once again, wedge 78 is placed under plate 69 to see if changing the angle of plate 69 increases or decreases mobility and balance. Once the optimum position is determined, this is position can be measured by setting a degree gauge on plate 69.
- Once it is determined how much heel height above forefoot is needed using method for measuring described in Step 3, the heel to forefoot differential is measured using the angle measuring device pictured in FIG. 5. First the end 40 of flat piece 32 is aligned with the middle of the person's heel. Flat piece 35 is adjusted along the end 41 of flat piece 33 so it aligns with said person's forefoot where it touches the floor. Next the bottom of angle measuring device in FIG. 5 are placed on the corresponding surfaces where foot had been placed upon the foot measuring device in FIG. 3 and exact measurement is recorded with a degree gauge 34, FIG. 5. Since the angle measuring device is built with the distance between pivot fasteners 36 and 37 equal to the distance between pivot fasteners 38 and 39 and also the distance between pivot fasteners 36 and 38 is equal to the distance between pivot fasteners 37 and 39, flat piece 31 will always maintain a parallel plane to flat piece 33 regardless of the angle of the surface that either one is resting upon.
The same angle used in Step 4 is used to raise thin rigid cutter 107
to that height above the top surface of platform 101
using the adjustable fasteners 104
. Casting foam block 100
is set on platform 101
so it is resting against the back of frame 102
- Casting foam block is held in place and then thin rigid cutter 107 is slid in it's grooves 105 and 106 as far as it goes in direction of arrow 109 making a slice shown as heavy black line 116 in casting foam block 100. Next, fixture 111 is used to adjust thin rigid material 108 to correspond with the angle and length measured for the arch with plate 75 of measuring device as described in Step 3. Thin rigid cutter 108 is then slid in direction of arrow 110 making a diagonal slice across casting foam block 100 shown as dotted line 117. This leaves casting foam block 100 with a trapezoidal piece 118 missing which allows the foam block to be set on the foot measuring device in FIG. 2, the person's foot is then pressed into the casting foam in sub-taler neutral as would normally be done, which leaves an impression of the foot sole with appropriate heel height and angles for the foot to rest upon. Any other method of making an impression of the foot can also be used as long as the measurements needed to give the optimum position are incorporated into the foot orthotic. The foot orthotic is finished in the normal process of current art chosen and the surface the foot rests upon in the footwear is adjusted to support these measurements of optimum position also.
- To determine if the footwear has the correct heel to forefoot differential for the foot to rest upon, angle measuring device from FIG. 5, shown in FIG. 6 as 55, is slid inside the footwear 54 until it rests on the surface 51 (thick line) where the heel 53 and metatarsal heads 52 rest. The degrees 50 are then read on degree gauge, prior art, 56. If this angle does not correspond to the one determined optimum in Step 3, the surface 51 is adjusted to proper angle using standard footwear repair methods
- FIG. 7 shows angle measuring device from FIGS. 5 and 6 as 55, this time placed in footwear 54 the reverse side down from FIG. 6. This allows angle measuring device 55 to only rest upon heel portion 53 of surface 51. The position of the surface 53 that the heel rests upon, 57 can be read with degree gauge 56. If needed this surface position of heel portion 53 can then be adjusted to a person's needs as measured in process described for the foot measuring device in Step 3.
The steps described above correlate to FIG. 8 flow chart as follows; Picture I shows a foot 202 in a normal stance on foot measuring device 204 in flat surface position where said foot 202 is positioned and tested for balance and mobility as described in detail in Steps 1 and 2. Picture II shows foot measuring device 208 in optimum position for foot 206 in optimum stance attained using the process described in detail in Step 3. Picture III shows foot 202 on flat surface 210 with angle measuring device 212 with flat piece 213 and flat piece 214 adjusted to correspond with foot 202's heel 209 and metatarsal heads 211 set up to be able to correctly measure angles as described in detail in Step 4. Picture IV shows foot measuring device 208 with foot removed so angle measuring device 212 can be set upon it where the foot had been in optimum position. Degree gauge 216, prior art, is set on top of angle measuring device 212 at 218 and angle of heel to forefoot differential is noted for future use. Then degree gauge 216 is set on surface where heel rests 220 and angle is noted for future use as described in detail in Step 4. Picture V shows invention 222 for altering foam casting block 224 as described in detail in Step 5 with rigid cutters 221 and 223 set at proper heights and angles measured in Picture IV. After being cut, it is altered foam casting block 226. Picture VI shows altered foam casting block 226 placed upon measuring device 208 and foot 206 pressed into it to make impression of said foot 206 for use in making foot orthotic as described in detail in Step 5. Picture VII shows footwear 228 with angle measuring device 212 set inside on surface foot rests upon with degree gauge 216 in position to make reading of heel to forefoot differential as described in detail in Step 6. Picture VIII shows angle measuring device inverted 230 with degree gauge in position to measure angle of heel portion 229 of footwear 228 as described in Step 6. Picture IX shows footwear 228 with material 232 installed to give correct surface for foot to rest upon as described in Steps 6 and 7. Picture X shows foot orthotic 234 built correctly from foam casting block in Picture VI as described in Step 5. Picture XI shows footwear 228 with corrected surface 232 and foot orthotic 234 as the finished product.