Bobi Murphy, CPed, compares feet with the foundation of a house.
Bad feet and a bad foundation both spell trouble, says Murphy, who owns
Murphy’s Orthopedics and FootCare of Murfreesboro, Tenn., a BOC-accredited
facility her late husband, Charlie Murphy, CPed, started in 1970.
“He was a pedorthist way before credentials were involved and
titles were given,” said Murphy, ABC-certified like her spouse.
“Anyway, if you start seeing cracks in the foundation of a house, the
first thing you know the door won’t open right or the windows won’t
open or will open but halfway. It is the same way with your feet. If you
don’t take care of your feet, you can have problems with your knees, hips
Murphy, who is also an ABC-certified fitter orthotics/mastectomy (CFom),
preaches prevention to her customers and patients — especially younger
people — with almost missionary ardor.
“A woman came in the other day — she was in her 20s — and
is athletic; she works out. She was wearing those plastic galoshes that are
fashionable these days.
“She said, ‘My feet are killing me.’ She said when she
gets off the treadmill or the elliptical, her feet burn in the arch, and she
can hardly walk.”
|Bobi Murphy, CPed, spends 2 hours
fitting and casting inserts for clients with diabetes.
|Images: Craig B. O&P Business
Murphy suggested her problems were with her footwear, not her feet.
“I call them ‘princess shoes.’ I suggested she might need to
rethink her shoes and told her the benefits of good footwear and orthotics. She
had really high arches that were starting to collapse. I put an arch cookie in
her princess shoes but referred her to a podiatrist.”
For high school athletes who hobble to her facility on sore feet, Murphy
plays up the college scholarship angle. “I see a lot of them. The first
thing I ask them is ‘Are you going for a scholarship?’ If they say
yes, then I say, ‘Let me tell you how you can get that scholarship.’
“I tell them what is going on with their feet. I compare the feet
to that foundation of a house. You put it on their terms, and they
Experimenting with orthotics
Murphy often cites herself as an example of how proper shoes and
orthotics can head off foot woes. She started wearing orthotics regularly when
she met and married Charlie 20 years ago.
“He experimented a lot with me,” Bobi said, “Some things
worked and some didn’t. But I don’t have Morton’s neuroma, or
metatarsalgia or plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendonitis. I haven’t had
to have a knee replacement. I’m getting on with my life.”
She said her business is based on helping others get on with their
lives. “We specialize in custom foot orthotics, comfort shoes, diabetic
shoes and inserts, bracing, and mastectomy forms and bras,” said Murphy.
Murphy said her husband encouraged her to become an ABC-certified
pedorthist. “He had been making leather orthotics for years. But when the
field started becoming more medical, he decided he needed to get certified.
Then he kind of took me under his wing and showed me what he was doing and how
he was helping people.”
So she decided to get her CPed credential.
Daily, she sees a steady stream of customers and patients, ranging from
browsers just seeking a comfortable pair of shoes to men and women who suffer
serious foot woes. “Some people who come in can barely walk. We see leg
discrepancies — and I don’t mean a quarter- or eighth-inch but 2- or
3-inch — who can hardly walk and don’t know what to do. We see people
with plantar fasciitis and tendonitis that is so bad they are literally limping
when they come through the door.”
First-timers realize Murphy does not run a regular shoe store. Service
is personal and unhurried. “I might take a half an hour talking and
showing them the difference between what they are wearing and what I can put
them in to help them. I spend up to 2 hours with a diabetes patient, fitting
them in shoes and casting them for inserts. When they come back to pick up
their shoes and inserts, I spend another 45 minutes to an hour with them.”
Educating about diabetes
She said educating patients with diabetes can save limbs and lives.
Murphy added that many people with diabetes have no idea that the disease can
lead to amputation.
“After they pick up their shoes, I tell them to wear them in the
house for 20 minutes, then take them off and look at their feet. I tell them if
they see red or white spots don’t put the shoes back on until they see me
again, she said.”
Murphy works closely with physicians at local wound care clinics.
“I explain to patients how inserts can offload wounds and help them heal.
But it’s sad when you get a patient and the infection has reached the bone
and there’s not much we can do about that.”
Murphy said non-compliance with what the doctor orders and the
pedorthist provides are often the root of foot ailments associated with
diabetes. “I take time to tell them the dos and don’ts of footwear
and socks. But I think in the back of their minds, they believe amputation is
not going to happen to them. It is heartbreaking to see what can happen to
patients who don’t care of themselves.”
People free of serious foot problems related to diabetes and other
medical conditions can often take care of themselves with just shoes. “We
get a lot of people who want shoes that will stop their feet, legs and knees
from hurting and a lot of times a shoe is sufficient to ease the pain.”
When more than footwear is required, Murphy adds custom orthotics, which
she crafts in a lab at her business.
“Some people come to us after they’ve gone to Walmart and
stood on one of those Dr. Scholl’s things and bought orthotics, she
“Comfort” and “correction” in footwear used to mean
short on style. “I don’t wear ugly shoes. I wear shoes that can
accommodate my custom foot orthotics.
“You’re not going to see P.W. Minor make a pair of four-inch
stilettos. But you can find casual shoes that are very attractive and can
accommodate custom foot orthotics – your Merrells, Eccos and New
Murphy said some patients still balk at casual footwear, especially
older women. “I ask them, ‘If you are wearing a beautiful suit, do
you think anybody is going to notice that you are wearing a pair of New Balance
athletic shoes because your feet hurt?’”