Foot orthoses

High heels with highly valued benefits

Weightflex technology used by the Swedish footwear brand Stinaa.J

From Bauerfeind Life Magazin

In short The cooperation between the Swedish shoe manufacturer Stinaa.J and Bauerfeind combines elegant high heels with orthopedic expertise. In addition to the 3-step system with three footbed cushioning material components developed in aerospace research, it is the weightflex technology that guarantees the perfect support at all times, even with a heel height of nine centimeters.

  • The foot orthosis for the patented Stinaa.J high heels is made of carbon, Poron and memory foam and is firmly combined with Bauerfeind’s adapted weightflex orthotic core in Portugal.
  • With its four flexible arms, the weightflex orthotic core supports the foot’s torsion and allows adjustments to suit higher heel drops.
  • Orthopedic technician Peter Hedström and PR expert Stina Andersson are the brand’s founders. Their innovative high-heeled shoes aspire to being elegant, sustainable and comfortable. They are an investment in a woman’s wardrobe and health.
  • For more info on Stinaa.J and her current designs, visit www.stinaaj.com.

Weightflex

Healthy feet and high heels are not known for being natural companions – so reuniting orthopedics and elegance seems an impossible task. The technology of his 3-step patent in combination with the weightflex orthotic cores, however, allowed Peter Hedström to succeed in this rare feat. Talking to Bauerfeind life, the orthopedic technician and CEO of Stinaa.J describes what makes his high heels the best in the world.

Craftsmanship and high-tech are Peter Hedström‘s recipe for women‘s high-heeled shoes that are not only cutting-edge but also comfortable to wear.

Peter Hedström from Sweden knows the world’s feet. When he sees the 3D scan of a foot, he can tell whether it belongs to a woman from Northern Sweden or Southern Italy. In over 30 years, he has collated more than a million of these types of scan in his work with athletes and in his own clinics. The orthopedic technician and biomechanics specialist who calls himself a nerd started to ask himself why the variety of foot shapes and misalignments is not sufficiently reflected in footwear – even less so in elegant, high-heeled shoes. The issue became more and more relevant for him. “When, at a nice dinner, you look under the table, you can see that all women have slid off their high-heeled shoes. That says a lot, doesn’t it?!”

life: Peter Hedström, how do you prove your claim of making the most comfortable heels in the world?

Peter Hedström: Using technology, a lot of experience and the best materials available. Look: we know the anatomy of the foot, the pressure conditions during standing and walking, there is a lot of knowledge about gait analyses and related issues – from flat feet and hallux valgus as well as heel spurs to lower back pain caused by foot misalignments. These issues can be addressed with the orthopedic solutions available. But what would the solution look like for women who don’t want to go without high-heeled shoes or may not even be able to because shortened tendons prevent them from walking in flat shoes, or they have to comply with a dress code? Stina (co-founder Stina Andersson) and I didn’t want to accept that the answer will always be: you have to suffer to be beautiful. That is why I wanted to develop a completely new shoe.

How did you manage to do it? What does the Stinaa.J brand do differently?

Peter Hedström: There are shoes with slightly better cushioning, there are running shoes with a sophisticated design, there are comfort shoes. But: comfort is not enough. We are just as interested in biomechanics. How do women move, how do they stand, how do they walk? What causes pain in the knee, hip or lower back? So I looked at my database of 3D scans. We created foot orthoses, took X-rays and carried our pressure measurements. We designed shoe models and tried out platforms and heels to change stabilities. That was a very labor-intensive task. I researched, tested and enhanced the design for four years. I wanted to develop a “dynamic” footbed in which the foot is naturally supported and is allowed to have a physiological heel-to-toe movement. I also considered the following: where are the most high-performing materials needed? In aerospace engineering! So I went to NASA and managed to find what I was looking for. For Stinaa.J inlays, we use carbon developed for space travel, memory foam, and Poron, which is high-performance foam that cushions impact. Eventually, I got two patents: one for flat shoes and one for shoes with high heels. They are named the 5-bar system and 3-step system.

Peter Hedström used NASA know-how and Bauerfeind technology to develop his high-heel insoles.

Stinaa.J heels are available with a heel height of six to nine centimeters – where does the biomechanical aspect come in?

Peter Hedström: Walking on the forefoot is not natural, no doubt. That’s why our high heels also have platforms to reduce the heel drop and therefore the load. But the development wasn’t complete. I contacted the world’s best manufacturer of foot orthoses. (laughs) Soon after, I traveled to Zeulenroda, Germany, and said: “This is my idea, my recipe and these are my patents. Can you do something with that?” And they could. Bauerfeind listened to me and understood what I was trying to achieve. Not only did I find like-minded people but also the orthopedic quality and knowledge I was looking for. This marked the start of the development of the Stinaa.J inlay, which is specifically designed for high heels and offers the required stability, cushioning and guidance.

And the dynamic footbed?

Peter Hedström: Right. Yes, a shoe with high heels needs to be firm and sturdy, but as I said: I wanted dynamics, a natural movement. It is the stability of the shoe in combination with, the shape of the orthopedic insole and the weightflex X which has the positive effect on the foot’s torsion. The arms of the X support the foot’s rotational movements. This makes the heel-to-toe movement natural again. A pad under the midfoot provides additional support, and our material combination of carbon, Poron and memory foam together with the 3-step system under the forefoot is how we can easily adapt them to our heel shapes and heel drops for a perfect match. The pressure conditions during standing and walking will be less.

You were looking for a large-scale partner …

Peter Hedström: Yes, that was important to me. For two reasons: in Sweden, 60 percent of people have low arch or flat feet, 10 percent have high-arched feet, and only 30 percent have normal feet. I imagine it’s the same in Germany. Of course, there are orthopedic solutions available. But there are millions of women who suffer in their shoes. That’s why we wanted a partner who could deliver large quantities and comply with the requirements resulting from a portfolio of different shoe models, sizes and heel heights.

Weightflex

What does the production process of a Stinaa.J high heel shoe with the 3-step system and weightflex inside look like?

Peter Hedström: Stina and I have spent a long time researching in Italy, Spain and Portugal. We found manufacturers, old family-run businesses that understood our vision. Today, we have excellent suppliers in these countries, and Bauerfeind provides us with the adapted orthotic cores. All this is processed and firmly combined in Portugal, meaning everything is European craftsmanship. Each of our models has been worn and evaluated by testers with different conditions. Does the shoe work as intended? Or do we have to modify something?

Who is your typical customer?

Peter Hedström: It’s a woman, with an average age of 40+, when people start experiencing the first problems. Feet usually need functional support from a certain age. She is a working woman, walks a lot on hard surfaces like concrete, asphalt or indoor wood flooring. She looks after herself, she is a mindful consumer and less and less prepared to compromise well-being for good looks. I’m always so proud when I see a woman in our heels. Recently, Swedish Crown Princess Victoria was photographed with Stinaa.J high heels – the picture immediately went viral.

X marks the spot – Weightflex technology in the Bauerfeind portfolio

If the complex structures of the foot lose stability in one area, the impaired statics can lead to problems in the entire kinematic chain. With the X asymmetrically positioned at its orthotic core and its four arms with different densities, the ErgoPad weightflex foot orthosis influences the interaction of forces and opposing forces during movement. The longitudinal and transverse arches are cushioned. This provides particular stabilization to the midfoot. The two pivot points in the “weightflex X” direct the forces exerted in the foot from the lateral to the medial side, thus making the natural heel-to-toe movement easier. In this way, ErgoPad weightflex foot orthoses support both walking and standing, and allow the return to the foot’s healthy baseline position. The three versions “soft”, “medium” and “strong” allow adjustment to the degree of insufficiency present in the foot arch structures, to the treatment goal as well as to the individual’s body weight.

The Stinaa.J moment

The PR expert Stina Andersson is the creative mind of the Swedish founding duo. She takes care of design and marketing, she is the model and face of Stinaa.J.

“With our shoes, a woman invests in her outfits and in her health.”

Stina Andersson

A few years ago, when she went out to dinner with her husband, Johan, after an exhausting day, she had to walk home from the restaurant barefoot because her feet were hurting so much. She asked herself: why aren’t there comfortable high heels, and why do women suffer this pain? She wanted to change this and started to look around – someone gave her a name: Peter Hedström.

They met for lunch in Stockholm in 2015, and she told him about her desire to wear high heels without pain. Could that be possible? They talked for two hours… and a week later, Stina Andersson and Peter Hedström established their company, claiming nothing less than to make the best high heels in the world: Stinaa.J. Bauerfeind life asked her to complete the following sentences:

The Stinaa.J moment is … the moment when a customer puts her foot in one of our shoes for the first time. Then she really understands Stinaa.J, she feels the difference.

There are women who abandoned high heels a long time ago … and it’s particularly pleasing when we can give them back this feeling of elegance and style. Many customers initially want to play it safe and chose the six-centimeter heel. Then they try the nine-centimeter heels after all … and they’re surprised. Recently, we had a customer who stopped wearing high heels 16 years ago. Now she can wear them again.

Women who don’t wear standard sizes won’t get the shoes they like … even though there are enough women where the standard sizing system from 36 to 41 for fashionable women’s shoes doesn’t fit. We know that this concept is too limiting. That’s why our shoes for women are available in the sizes 35 to 43 as well as in half sizes.

Every woman has more shoes in her wardrobe than she wears … and that is why don’t compromise when it comes to timeless design, quality and durability. That’s our understanding of sustainability. With our shoes, a woman invests in her outfits and in her health. I’m convinced that the idea of “less is more” will continue to spread.

The name ‘Stinaa.J’ includes … my first name, the second ‘a’ for my last name, and the ‘J’ for my husband, Johan.

When naming the shoe models … I think of people I care about. Anita, for example, is my mother’s name, Johan my husband, Peter my co-founder, naming one model Hannah was to thank one of my earliest employees, and soon, we’ll have the Felicia model. That’s my daughter’s name. For more info on Stinaa.J and the current models, visit  www.stinaaj.com.

Images: Bauerfeind, Stinaa.J

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