SOMETIMES getting back on your feet requires more than just a morale booster; it needs the right arch support, literally.
An arch support provides support to the arch of the foot for optimum comfort while reducing discomfort, pain or injuries to the feet, knees and back.
Known as orthotics, arch supports or insoles can be worn to help support, align or prevent foot deformities.
Foot care expert and orthotic specialist centre MyOrtho Rehab Sdn Bhd has been providing orthotics since it was established in 2010.
Led by founder and group chief executive officer Datuk Dr Edmund Lee, it prescribes functional foot orthotics to help relieve foot pain and discomfort.
MyOrtho’s consistent growth and branding earned itself a Gold Award in the Best Brand category at the Star Outstanding Business Awards (SOBA) 2016.
The win was a testament to the brand’s accomplishment in educating and creating awareness of foot health care.
Ironically, that has always been the biggest challenge for Lee as most people take their feet for granted.
Among some of the more common foot problems which Malaysians tend to overlook are flat feet and pronated feet.
Flat feet occurs when there is no arch, and the underside of the foot lies completely flat on the ground.
Conversely, pronated feet are caused by a collapsed arch and the ankles roll inwards.
Not addressing these foot abnormalities right away may worsen the condition, causing pain in the back, hip, knee, heel and feet.
This may eventually result in strained muscles, poor posture and spinal distortion.
When he first opened MyOrtho, which started out as a clinic, there was a lack of foot care awareness among Malaysians.
“People usually go to the clinic when there’s something wrong with them.
“But our aim was prevention – diagnosing the problem and providing solutions so that their foot problems do not worsen,” said Lee.
MyOrtho was then changed into a retail concept – a lifestyle brand which people could relate to.
“Outlets were opened in shopping malls so that customers could walk in, buy shoes and receive free basic checks and consultancy if needed,” Lee said, adding that the change to retail spurred the brand’s growth.
The 34-year-old British-qualified orthotist and prosthetist is the third generation in the family business; his late grandfather and father were in the prosthetics and orthotics line.
Lee feels strongly about educating customers, which means being hands-on and interacting with people face-to-face.
“Advertising and promotion does not help much with our branding.
“People would not know your brand and what it is about just by looking at an advertisement or logo.
“Branding is achieved through education, because if you do not educate customers, no matter how much money you pump into advertising, people will still not know who you are,” he emphasised.
Lee highlighted that the company does many on-ground activities such as talks, roadshows and campaigns as these provide the opportunity to better explain foot problems and foot care to the public.
This includes Feet For Life 2017 that was held at Mid Valley Megamall in Kuala Lumpur in May, and the Healthy Feet Carnival which is held every two years so people can get their feet checked.
According to Lee, MyOrtho even earned a title in the Malaysia Book of Records for having the largest foot screening in one day, registering almost 4,000 people, at Tropicana City Mall in 2014 during the carnival.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Lee has also launched a Healthy Feet song and music video, featuring TV host, singer and MyOrtho ambassador Yin Yin.
The official MyOrtho theme song was created to teach children about the importance of foot care.
The foot care expert also intends to get local artists to go to schools to further reach out to students.
Through these platforms, Lee hopes that children will understand the meaning of “healthy feet lead to a healthy me”.
The common myth about foot problems is that it occurs during old age, but it can also start at a young age.
“In my line of work, I have seen many children with foot problems. So it’s good to start education from an early age so that you can take preventive measures.
“We still have debates with doctors who advise parents not to do anything about foot issues, because we believe in early intervention by providing orthotic insoles and shoes.
“If we do not do anything, the child may have to live with the problem for the rest of his life,” he explained.
However, Lee stressed that MyOrtho does not replace medical doctors.
“We actually work hand-in-hand with them as we look at the external problem.
“When there is an internal problem which we cannot diagnose, we will recommend that they see an orthopaedic doctor.
To date, MyOrtho has 10 outlets across the country – three specialist clinics and seven foot care concept stores.
It carries a range of products such as insoles, foot braces, custom-made shoes, orthopaedic shoes and sandals.
It also offers foot biomechanical assessment and customised insole prescription.
“What makes us different is that we are a one-stop centre with retail, specialist clinic and rehabilitation services.
“We have a strong clientele. It normally starts with one child, followed by the siblings, and then the whole family comes.
“It is a service you would never stop using,” Lee explained.
He added that they even customise shoes for diabetic patients, because they need proper footwear to walk around to prevent the ulceration from getting worse, which could lead to amputation.
Currently, MyOrtho works with a few labs overseas in Australia and Britain for a more precise measurement while its own in-house lab assembles the insole.
Lee aims to have a fully independent in-house lab in Cheras in a year.
Looking back on how far they have come, he is happy that people are now more aware and appreciate foot care.
Lee is committed to reaching out to more people as he is truly passionate about education and foot care.
“MyOrtho has become the country’s leading foot care brand. It is the first name that comes to mind when a person has foot problems,” he concluded.