Thirty-five years ago, two innovative young men met each other by chance, and discovered they had a common interest.
Dr. Charlie Baycroft, a doctor who specialized in Musculoskeletal and Sports Medicine, was trying to find a more practical and economical solution for his patients suffering foot and lower extremity pain. Charlie had moved to New Zealand from Canada in 1972, and opened New Zealand’s first full-time multidisciplinary sports medicine clinic. There he saw a multitude of running-related injuries, and began trying out custom orthotic foot inserts. Patients with long-standing and recurrent conditions came back with astounding results and were able to train and compete without pain. The problem Charlie had was that these inserts were expensive and time consuming to make, and he knew there had to be a better solution.
A moment of inspiration
Like most great inventions, the discovery of Formthotics™ was very simple. While strolling along the beach one day, Dr. Baycroft was suddenly aware that while his bare feet were able to sink into the soft sand and form a supporting imprint (his footprint), most modern surfaces are hard and flat. Formthotics were born from this observation and a realisation that our feet were never designed to cope with the unforgiving surfaces of our modern day environment. Dr. Baycroft knew that by creating the closest possible contact between a patient’s foot, orthotic and shoe, the foot would be given the natural support it needs, similar to the support provided by the soft sand.
David Boyd was introduced to orthoses in 1977 by a podiatrist in California as part of a sponsorship deal he had as a professional skier. He had never used insoles before and although he didn’t need any special correcting insole, he felt that the ones he was provided with offered good support and comfort. But like Charlie, David was convinced he could produce something even better, and something that could improve his sports performance. After eight years on the professional skiing circuit, David returned to New Zealand to help set up and run the Disabled Skiing Program in 1978, where a number of the participants had physical problems fitting into ski boots. During nights, David worked at the back of his apartment hand-making insoles for the participants in the program, and during the day he worked at a ski store.
The dedicated doctor and professional skier meet
Charlie and David met when Charlie entered that ski store one day, looking for the person who was making custom footbeds for ski boots. It was David he approached, and they soon discovered that they had both been experimenting with thermo-plastic foam, a material they found to be excellent to work with, and with a great deal of potential.
Charlie had developed the original Formthotics design concept, and following that chance meeting, David became his first customer.
In 1981, about a year after the Formthotics product was developed, Charlie and David formed Foot Science International, but it wasn’t until 1984, after years of research and development, that the business really began to operate. Some of the first Formthotics insoles fitted by Foot Science International were for the New Zealand ski team, and they were fitted by David in an old farmhouse in the Rakaia Valley, near the Southern Alps of New Zealand, with a kitchen oven to heat up the foam.
Since those early days, Formthotics has become a name known and loved by people all over the world. As Dr. Bob Donatelli, internationally known and respected for his sports rehabilitation work, says, “Formthotics are quick and easy to fit, you get immediate patient feedback, they are not expensive, and they really do work”. There are millions of people, now free of pain, who will agree with Bob that Formthotics really do work.
Formthotics are still manufactured in New Zealand, but no longer laboriously hand made as they originally were. Today we use a unique process and very sophisticated manufacturing equipment to ensure consistent high quality, and the products are now available throughout Europe, North America, Australasia, and Asia. We’ve come a long way in 30 years, but we’ve never changed our desire to provide the very best product, and the very best service, to our customers.