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Z-Coil Pain Relief Footwear Charity Profile
In the early 1980s, Alvaro Z. Gallegos was running an average of seven miles a day. He suffered all the typical injuries associated with running—heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, knee trouble, hip pain, and back pain. And although he owned a shoe store at the time and had access to all types of running shoes, he was unable to find a shoe that eased his pain.
Realizing that the source of his pain was impact, Al reasoned that putting a “shock-absorber” in the heel of his shoe would reduce the force of impact. And as an added benefit, a spring would provide some form of energy return, to help him run faster and farther.
Al experimented with a variety of springs before finding one that worked best: a three-inch-wide conical steel coil. He then had a local butcher cut open the soles of his shoes and he glued in the springs. He was amazed at the result. "I went out for a run," he says, "and it was glorious." Not only did the shoes feel good, but they also seemed to protect him from his usual running injuries. Over the next few years, as friends and family began asking Al to add coils to their shoes to ease their aching feet, he began to think seriously of mass-producing his springy shoes.
But shoe manufacturers were not interested. Some just laughed at his idea. Time after time Al was turned away and told that his shoe would be impossible to make.