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Funny looking shoe gets serious results

This is the tennis shoe model of the Z-Coil line of shoes. The coil in the heel lessens the impact of running and walking often alleviating chronic pain for its wearers. - Photo by Tracey Cooper
This is the tennis shoe model of the Z-Coil line of shoes. The coil in the heel lessens the impact of running and walking often alleviating chronic pain for its wearers.
— image credit: Photo by Tracey Cooper

While the peculiar Z-Coil shoes are on the fringe of fashionable, to people suffering chronic pain they’re as beautiful as a pair of ruby slippers.

Shoe Safari in Old Town Silverdale opened its doors in February and hopes to spark a footwear revolution.

While at a Seattle hospital visiting a relative, Hugh and Dody Solaas had their first run in with the Z-Coil. A nurse was wearing a pair of the funny looking shoes and told the Solaases that without them, she would not be in nursing.

“It piqued our interest,” Dody said. “We went and bought a pair over in Burien and we were sold. My arthritic knees went away, my sciatica went away.”

Hugh’s painful foot ailments disappeared.

The couple came out of retirement where they were living in Hansville to open the Shoe Safari on Byron Street where “adventures in pain relief” are an everyday occurrence.

Each of the shoes has a built in orthotic, which is custom molded to the foot. That is attached to the coil at the heel. The shoe, developed by life-long runner Alvaro Gallegos of New Mexico, lessens the impact of running or walking.

The shoes range in price from $139-$249.

A triple fracture to his ankle left Rick Tibbs with nerve damage, pain and the inability to find shoes that fit comfortably.

In a matter of weeks after wearing the Z-Coils, he said he no longer needed to take pain medication or spend hours in a therapeutic hot tub for relief.

“My back stopped hurting, my feet stopped hurting,” Tibbs said as he tried on a pair of work boots recently.

“The reason we’re getting these kinds of results ... is because this is the first totally engineered orthotic piece of footwear on the planet,” Hugh said.

The average person walks about 8,000 steps a day and each time the foot meets the hard surface “micro-trauma” occurs, its effects traveling up the skeleton Hugh said.

“The feet are the foundation of your whole skeletal system and it’s just like a house, if the foundation is bad the rest of the house is bad,” Hugh said.

The Solaases have a binder that is quickly filling with letters of appreciation from customers.

“The only drawback is the cosmetic part of the shoe,” Hugh said.

There are 13 different styles of shoes including sandals, clogs and boots.

“My mission is to help people relieve their foot knee and back pain,” Hugh said. “But the gratification I’m getting far exceeds that original thought. Just the idea of people coming back after purchasing the product and thanking me for selling them the product makes it the most gratifying thing I’ve ever done.”

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