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home : business : business February 6, 2016

4/8/2014 12:38:00 PM
Sisters man keeps folks on their feet
John Neal. photo by Jim Cornelius
+ click to enlarge
John Neal. photo by Jim Cornelius

By Jim Cornelius
News Editor

We Sisters Country folks spend a lot of time on our feet. If we're not working on our feet, we're out hiking on them or on the court or doing something that demands good foot health.

John Neal's Right Step Orthotics is here to make sure we can continue to do what we love to do, free of pain and the damage that can come from being "out of whack."

Orthotics aren't just about soothing your aching dogs. A lot of orthopedic problems can be traced to how you get around.

"A lot of people don't realize their back problems are associated," Neal says.

Your stride could be off, causing hip or knee pain; you may have a slight discrepancy in the length of your leg. Custom orthotics can relieve these problems, make painful activities fun again, and improve your performance. And they can prevent more problems down the road.

"Orthotics won't fix damage that's already done," Neal says. "It won't cure anybody. But they can keep it from getting worse."

Neal, a certified pedorthist, has an office in the old Weitech building, Suite 202.

There, folks can come in for an initial consultation at no charge. With his background in exercise physiology, Neal can often assess problems quickly. Sometimes, the solution won't require his services.

"(It's) a lot of biomechanics," he says. "Looking at how they walk, how they stand. Maybe it's a muscle imbalance or a flexibility imbalance. Sometimes it's just looking at your shoes and saying 'Your shoes don't fit.' They just want to know what's going on. If I can help them I will."

Off-the-shelf orthotics can provide padding, but they don't last long and they don't correct alignment. Neal's custom work comes at a price, but the results are much more than just a stopgap measure.

"Sometimes it's a process and not an instant solution," he says. "I'm here for the whole process."

Neal has a couple of different techniques for taking foot moulds, which are then used to create the first pair of orthotics. Once the first pair is made, it's easy and less expensive to make replacements.

Neal got into the field because of a particular experience while working in the field during his studies in exercise physiology at the University of California, San Diego.

He had a rheumatoid arthritis patient with severe problems that made it essentially impossible to walk. He took on the challenge of making orthotics for her.

"I made some out of spare foam," he recalls. "I ended up going into an orthotics place and making something for her that they said wouldn't work. She walked into their place the next day."

Neal subsequently went to New York University for his pedorthist certification, and worked for Scott Peterson in Bend before opening Right Step in Sisters.

His persistence and willingness to work doggedly to solve his clients' problems are the hallmark of his practice.

"You should be happy," he says. "You should feel good. You should say, 'Why did I wait so long.' That's what I want people to do."

For more information, contact Neal at 541-636-0855.

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