Do you know the importance of correct posture? Do you know the impact that slippers can make on our joints and muscles? Have you been wearing the right kind of footwear when working from home? Are your feet causing you pain? My guest, Christophe Champs, knows everything there is to know about feet and footwear. He is a consultant in biomechanics as well as founder of the PODO clinic in London. His expertise has taken him around the world from Paris to Toronto, Dubai to The Maldives, Monaco to London. Hi Christophe and welcome…
My name is Christophe Champs and my ‘thing’ is to make people’s bodies work better. I shaped my professional career following a poor medical experience that made me dream about a clinic / workshop like PODO. Since the opening of the place in central London in April 2021, I have been living the dream!
You work with clients to help correct their postural & bio mechanical issues that are causing them pain or putting them at risk of injury. So what is the importance of correcting your posture?
Posture is everything and, I believe, today back and neck pain are everywhere. Having a strong foundation with an upright posture is an easy way to improve our quality of life.
At PODO we discuss your three postures; standing, sitting and even your sleeping one, as we consider orthotics to be only one piece of the puzzle. Patients are often surprised to discover how beneficial custom orthotics can be for back and neck pain.
Some people walk around the house barefooted, others prefer wearing slippers. What is best for your feet?
The answer will depend on 2 factors:
• Your physical attributes, such as your flexibility, fat pad atrophy…
• What you do barefoot or in slippers and how much time you spend in those.
Health is about balance. Balance well the time when you need shoes and support with the time you need to be barefoot to let your foot muscles work and your skin and nails breath.
Slippers are practical but have no positive effect for your health and well-being.
If you spend 10 hours a day with shoes on at work and don’t have any body-pain when you are barefoot, then spend your evening barefoot.
I do it myself every evening and wear orthotics all day long.
Your clinic, PODO, provides customised orthotics – what is the procedure and what materials do you use?
At PODO I use a step-by-step procedure. The clinic has been designed to take the patient ona journey and spend 90 minutes on his or her body.
We start with an interview to identify the goal of the visit. Then we move onto the Podobaroscop, where I look at the entire body through some static tests, then the examination table for multiple, hands-on checks on the patient. Finally comes the gait analysis to look at the dynamics – or how the body moves and compensates.
Following the consultation, the patient journey continues in the workshop area. As every body is asymmetrical, both feet are treated independently.
We use two footprints on our Podograph for me to prepare all the material needed. Then we create two different foot moulds thanks to our Podolab.
Each layer of the orthotics is warmed up to become mouldable and placed on each foot mould with the patient foot on top… Because the best template of your foot really is yourfoot! I do not to use any foot casts or send anything away to factories for anyone else to make my patients orthotics. The moulding stage is actually the patient’s favourite part. Which makes sense. After all, who doesn’t like to have warm feet?
Following the moulding of every layer, I glue them all together and trim the orthotics in front of the patient. I find having the patient involved in the process very beneficial to the treatment plan. On one hand it allows me to craft orthotics which are very snug and accurate and, on the other, it gives more time for the patients to share and learn more about their condition.
Who are the typical candidates that you would recommend for PODO orthotics?
I’d say that if you have pain which increases when you stand for long periods or when you increase your level of activity (exercise), then you must have someone looking at how your body works and what is causing the pain or discomfort. I am ensuring that PODO doesn’t become too specialised, in order to keep a diversity in patients’ stories. All patients are interesting and challenging when it comes to Biomechanics and I am delighted to see every age, discipline and level throughout the course of each week.
You offer 2 types of orthotics length – short & long. What are differences between the two?
The size! Just kidding of course.
A short set of orthotics allows the patient to wear them in dressy shoes with not much volume available. Actually, it often happens with a short set of orthotics that patients go down a shoe size when adding the orthotics into their shoes! This is simply because the forefoot stops spreading and patients realise that they have been wearing shoes that are too big because of their foot type, rather than the actual size of their foot.
Full length orthotics will replace the existing insole of the shoes. It’s straightforward when you can replace them in all your shoes. They are also covered with a soft padding, which the patients appreciate.
There is not one set better than the other. When going for a spare set I would alwaysrecommend having one of each. You do not need it for the treatment to work but it is practical and always a pleasure to have the choice.
You have been a consultant in biomechanics for many years and your experience & expertise has taken you around the world from Paris to Toronto, Dubai, The Maldives, Monaco and since 2016, London – have you always wanted to work with feet or did your career aspirations lie elsewhere?
Orthotics changed my life at the age of 14. I literally planned every career move and work experience abroad around my purpose. I could have keep playing rugby, but I quickly understood that having a purpose at such a young age was a blessing. No time wasted, more time to travel and learn, getting better and better without ever settling into any comfort zone. Working with different cultures is really something I’d recommend to any young professional, as it makes our future choice wiser.
What are the biggest mistakes people make when buying footwear? What are your recommendations?
Not trying both shoes on – and buying online.
A number doesn’t fit your foot and you won’t always be the same shoe size. There are so many reasons to require a different shoe size from one purchase to another. Take your time to try your shoes with the socks you intend to wear and towards the end of the day.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
I am not a shoe collector but then I don’t wear dressy shoes. I like my Nike Zoom Vomeroand lots of blue navy casual trainers with white soles and no logo. Many brands make thatkind of shoe and I change brand regularly so as not to get bored and to check them out too.But never change the colour. I like blue, it’s my feel-good colour and I always have some blue on me. Quite ridiculous to be honest!
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?
I wish I had but I struggle as much as my patients in front of those good-looking new trends that don’t tick my boxes – and with the absence of consistency in shoe making with most big brands. There are still some stores I recommend a lot such as ECCO, TODS and RM WILLIAMS, depending on your budget and the type of shoes you want.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
A pair of customised RM Williams – navy blue of course!
Boots or Shoes?
Don’t choose, take both!
Laced up boots are good for your ankle when you wear them. However, over time as the muscles surrounding your ankle will work less, their reactivity on uneven terrain is reduced and they become less protective against ankle sprain. Fashion-wise, I find boots great to look casual and feel relaxed!
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc
Thank you for joining me on the blog Christoph – I really love the fact that you have a ”feel good” colour! I love navy blue too but red is my colour I think 😊
All photographs have been published with kind permission of Christophe Champs (PODO Clinic) apart from the Header & Pinterest pic which are by Linda Hobden.