Dr. Boot aka Mike Davenport, fits Vail’s feet
Vail CO, Colorado
VAIL ” People call him “Dr. Boot,” but Mike Davenport is not a true M.D. He does have plenty of framed pieces of paper hanging on the wall of his “office,” but these are not diplomas, they are thank you letters, sent from people who Davenport has helped.
In the basement of Pepi’s Sports in Vail Village, tucked away in a corner among ski boots, socks and TEVA sandals, Davenport crafts custom-made foot orthotics. Most of his clientele come in with hopes that Davenport can make their ski boots more comfortable, which he does, but he is rapidly gaining a following of people who are searching for a solution to their persistent ailments, like sore knees and back pain.
“People come in all the time and say, ‘You fixed my back when nothing else has worked.’ It just amazes me all the time. I fix people who doctors haven’t been able to fix,” Davenport said. “It’s a mystery that an old ski bum like me could figure this out.”
Davenport invented his method of making orthodics out of personal necessity.
Twenty-seven years ago he was in a bad car accident, which left the left side of his body paralyzed. In and out of the hospital and 15 surgeries later, his left side recovered, except for his foot ” which still doesn’t move. Doctors recommended he get orthodics to help the right foot, which was over compensating. But the pediatrist’s orthodics were too hard and rigid to tolerate, he said, and since Davenport had already been making orthodics for ski boots in New Zealand for many years, he began to experiment with his own system. After trial and error, finding softer material and honing his molding method (with a custom-made machine), he found a procedure that worked. Davenport will show you just how good they work, too, as he runs up and down the stairs with a paralyzed foot.
“How could I do this?” he asks, as he moves up and down the steps with a quickness. “The whole idea is to find a way to spread the weight to the whole foot surface, instead of just the bony surfaces. The bottom of a person’s shoe should fit on the bottom of the foot like a glove to a person’s hand.”
Shock absorbing quality
Michael Hand, a student at Battle Mountain High School, was told to get a pair by his doctor, Dr. Tom Hackett, a surgeon at Steadman Hawkins in Vail.
“They cushion really good for track. They keep your body more healthy with all the pounding your body takes from running,” Hand said. “Especially trail running is where I noticed it. Running down hill, all the pounding on your feet, felt so much better.”
Hand said you’ll notice some differences right away, like the orthodics’ shock-absorbing quality. But other results happen later with frequent use.
“I have lower back pain and a week after wearing them, it helped my back a lot, too,” Hand said. Dr. Hackett said there’s a certain sub-set of patients he recommends for Davenport’s orthodics, sometimes people who have foot problems, but more commonly, he sends in patients with knee problems.
“He’s got a system that helps to basically assist people who have alignment problems with their knees,” Dr. Hackett said. “People, who if you just tilt the foot a little bit, you can sometimes help with knee pain.”
Jeanie Kearney fractured her tibial plateau, the area just below the knee joint, and she uses Davenport’s orthodics to complement the pair she got from her physical therapist. She said that Davenport’s are very similar, but less expensive.
“I needed a spare pair for all my outdoor activities. I use them all the time for golf,” Kearney said. “They give me more balance and a lot less pain because it’s a cushion. It’s a softer orthodic versus hard.”
Davenport has been making orthodics for almost 25 years, and what he has learned is that if the orthodics are going to work, communication is key. Davenport said he will work with his client until they feel perfect.
“Nobody knows more than the person who is wearing them,” he said. Davenport’s commitment to fit is what sold Dr. Hackett one day when he discovered Davenport by chance at Pepi’s Sports. Dr. Hackett had Davenport make him a pair for his boots.
“This was years ago, but I was just really impressed with how thoughtful he was with going about it,” Dr. Hackett said. “He’s very passionate.”
Cassie Pence is a freelance writer based in Vail, Colorado. Contact her at email@example.com.