The former Ball State University swimming standout was experiencing a severe case of plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the plantar fascia tendon in the heel of the foot, often caused by poor shoe support and without the best shoes for plantar fasciitis. If the problem goes untreated, heel spurs will develop.
When orthotic inserts and foot wraps offered no relief, Byrne took the matter into his own hands. He developed a compression wrap that fits around the arch of the foot, now marketed as Arch+Aid, that is sold in more than 200 stores in 40 states, including Hawaii.
The Best Thing for Plantar Fasciitis
Runners’ Forum of Carmel was the first to sell Byrne’s product. Store owner Marty Day admitted he was suspicious when Byrne made his initial sales pitch.
“We’re always skeptical of these hokey little gadgets,” Day said. “We said, ‘It’s an Ace bandage.'”
But Day, experiencing his own case of plantar fasciitis, wore one for two days. His foot felt much better.
“There’re all kinds of things like it on the market, but nothing quite like this,” Day said. “I’ve used three or four different [wraps] and, by far, this one is the best.”
Arch+Aid is heavier than an Ace bandage, Day said and features a sewn-on grip to keep the wrap snug over the arch of the foot. Unlike inserts, it can be worn under socks and with dress shoes. And at $14.99 a pair, it’s cheaper than other wraps, Day said.
The wrap has the endorsement of at least one physician. Family practitioner Dr. John Tzucker said he has tried Arch+Aid on about 40 patients with an 80-percent to 90-percent success rate. Dr. Tzucker recommends to patients that they stretch and exercise while wearing the wrap.
“What sets [Byrne’s wrap] apart from others is the simplicity of the concept,” Tzucker said.
While similar devices involve some sort of artificial arch placed under the foot, Byrne’s wrap elevates the arch from above rather than pushing up from below, Dr. Tzucker said.
“[Arch+Aid] lifts the plantar fascia up into a more normal, or protected, position,” he said.
That could change if he inks more deals similar to the one he just reached with The Finish Line. The Indianapolis-based retail shoe outlet will begin selling Arch+Aid later this month. He’s also talking with Galyan’s and the Texas Rangers baseball team.
“He’s had some success in other places, and Austin Croshere’s been wearing it,” said Doug Conroy, accessories buyer for The Finish Line. “We’re always looking for products that will be of benefit to our customers.”
Croshere, a forward with the Indiana Pacers, lately has struggled with foot pain and tried Byrne’s fabric contraption early in the NBA playoffs. While wearing Arch+Aid, he scored 20 points in the Pacers’ second-round victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.
Failed Attempts to Cure the Plantar Fasciitis
Byrne, 41, said Arch+Aid has a simple enough history. Following his failed attempts to cure the plantar fasciitis, Byrne rummaged through his assortment of medications and bandages and found a round compression wrap meant to relieve arm pain.
Desperate for relief, Byrne instead put the wrap on his foot. After a few days, the pain subsided. Curious, he bought some elastic material and had it sewn in different sizes.
For 30 days, he wore his invention on both feet. The problem never reoccurred.
“I showed my triathlete buddies what I had done, and no one believed me that it worked,” Byrne said. “After convincing them, they encouraged me to find a patent attorney.”
The search didn’t take long. Byrne met patent attorney Ken Gandy by chance in a bicycling club. While riding, Byrne asked Gandy his occupation. When Gandy responded, Byrne knew the two needed to talk.
Gandy, also a triathlete, applied for the patent last year and said it could take two years to receive an answer. Gandy said it’s likely Arch+Aid will be patented.
“I’ve seen Ace bandages before, but I thought he had a unique idea for treatment of arch pain in the foot,” Gandy said.
The wrap is manufactured in Maxwell in Hancock County and is boxed at Shares Inc. in Greenfield.
Byrne is developing another wrap that can be used on the legs and arms that he hopes to have on the market by the beginning of next year.
Byrne graduated from Ball State with a major in physical education. The Bloomington native attended the university on a swimming scholarship and won the Mid-American Conference championships in the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke during his junior year. He took a year off from college to train for the Olympics in Moscow.
Although he no longer experiences plantar fasciitis, Byrne still uses his wraps. “I wear them as a preventive measure now,” he said.
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