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Your feet in his hands

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Your feet in his hands

Something you don’t come across every day: an Austrian orthopedic and custom shoe maker in Hyogo. KS proffered its feet and sat down to get the story.

Feet: a complex system of 28 bones, muscles and tissues — but how we take them for granted. That is, until they start to hurt. After 20 years of standing teaching in a classroom, my feet had really begun to rebel and were in need of professional care. I was recommended to see Meister “Edi” Herbst, a foot specialist based in Kobe.

KS: What kind of training do you have in orthopedic shoe technique?

EH: I was apprenticed in Austria in a guild system, which taught European old-world techniques in shoemaking combined with cutting-edge technology in orthopedic footwear. We were tutored under meisters, master craftsmen, very similar to the sempai-kohai (senior-junior) system here in Japan, with the sempai teaching the kohai.

For the medical aspect of foot care, I studied at the Anatomical Institute of the Vienna Medical University. I opened a shop in 2002 to blend traditional craftsmanship with modern technology so we could produce fashionable, order-made footwear and insoles.

KS: What services and products do you offer?

EH: Our custom-designed shoes are precision-made on the premises. You choose the colour, specification and style of quality European leathers. Prices run from ¥140,000–¥240,000 for the finished product. We also have a reasonably priced in-house range of sport, health and comfort shoes available in larger sizes that fit foreign feet. For example, we carry an innovative rocking shoe that changes your balance and the way you walk. You stride out with your heel first on a cushioned base that essentially rocks you forward. We also have a runner’s ‘eco’ featherweight shoe weighing a mere 150 grams that will biodegrade in one or two years after being thrown away, thus protecting the environment.

KS: How can you help with feet problems?

EH: We always start by asking: What do your feet need? Lightness? Support? Help with a medical condition? We consult and work with the patient to get the right direction for your feet.

KS: What sort of health problems have you worked with?

EH: Bunions, flat feet, bow legs, hip-joint problems, leg length differences and rheumatoid arthritis, for example. Diabetes is increasing in Japan, as well as globally, so we are seeing a need for help there. Diabetes causes vascular and circulation problems through clogged arteries as well as loss of feeling in the feet. In all cases, we fit the patient with proper shoes that support and protect the feet and increase the mobility of patients again.

This writer came in for some custom-designed orthotics, insoles that fit inside your shoes for added support. More of a medical exam than a shoe-buying experience, Meister Edi checked my spine, back and hip placement first, took a scan of my feet and then pressed my feet into a cushiony mold to get the exact contours of my feet to produce the custom orthotics. And you can have your consultation in English, German or Japanese. Meister Edi takes National Health Insurance for orthotics, orthopedic shoe adjustments, rehabilitation shoes, supporters/bandages, compression socks/stockings and of course, custom-made orthopedic shoes but you must get a referral from your doctor first.

[box]OSM Herbst Co Ltd
• 5-3-9 Kishichi dori, Nada-ku, Kobe 657-0832
• Open: Mon–Sat, 10am–6pm. Closed Sun, and national holidays
• Access: from Hankyu Oji-koen stn, take the east exit to the Yamate Kansen. Turn left out of the station and walk on the right side of the street for about five minutes.
• Tel: 078-802-8022 / Fax: 078-802-8043
• Email: [email protected]
www.osmherbst.com (in Japanese)[/box]

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