About two months ago I was cruising around on Premier’s Facebook page and I came across a post a friend had put up for the X-Brace. Curious, I clicked on the link and it brought me to the website for the product where I read through several of the pages, and learned a little about the brace. The website claimed that this product was developed to help treat plantar fasciitis, foot pain, and possibly knee and back pain as well. At first, I thought it seemed a little too good to be true. But the more I read, the more I thought that the X-Brace might be a good product.
Most of you know that I am fairly skeptical about the pre-packaged treatment, but because this product seemed to have a fairly scientific design and purpose, I decided to contact the company for more information. In the email I requested any peer-reviewed research that may be available, and product samples if they were willing to provide them. Personally, I suffered from a condition known as Sever’s disease as an adolescent, which sounds very serious, but is really just inflammation of the growth plate in the heel as a result of rapid growth spurts. I still have frequent heel pain as a result (you would think that as a therapist, I would try to correct that, but you would be wrong), so I was curious about how effective these X-braces would be for my own issue.
A representative of the company responded to my email request, and sent me a case study that described the positive results achieved with a 9-year-old gymnast with heel pain, and 4 pairs of X-Braces. Currently the X-Brace comes in one color, and in 5 different sizes. I am a size 14, but the biggest available is a size 13, so I put them on and wore them for the better part of a week. The packaging comes with a disclaimer that states at first, the brace may be somewhat uncomfortable, so it may be necessary to break the braces in, or progressively increase the amount of time-worn. I did find that they were somewhat uncomfortable at first, but I was also wearing a small size. My wife, who was wearing the correct size, had no issue with discomfort. After the first few hours of wearing them, I found that they became more comfortable and I barely noticed they were there.
For the next 7 days I wore the X-Braces with all my weight-bearing activities. I performed no additional stretching or treatment (on the back of the package are recommendations for stretching the calf and Achilles daily, as well as performing some ice massage to the foot and heel), as I wanted to see the effects of the brace on its own. After 7 days I noticed significant improvement. In the mornings I was not as stiff and did not have as much pain in the heels, and I felt like I was able to move and walk somewhat better throughout the day. Overall, I was very impressed with the effectiveness of the X-Brace.
After the 7 days was up I discontinued wearing the braces. Unfortunately over the course of the next 2 weeks my heel pain did slowly return. I do think it is important to note, I did not perform the stretches and other exercises as recommended on the package, nor did I do any other treatment. I have also subsequently used the braces and found that they still help alleviate pain and stress on the heels.
My final take on this product:
Two Thumbs Up
I like this product. It did what it claimed to do: eliminate my heel pain. While these effects were not permanent I believe that use of this product in conjunction with skilled physical therapy will result in longer term effects. Additionally, I think this product will enable those who are having difficulty with foot pain to return to their activities sooner and with less difficulty. As with anything I would still like to see more peer-reviewed research, but in this preliminary stage I think this a good product that I would recommend to my patients, as a part of an integrated care plan.
The link to the X-Brace website is below. If you have other products you would like to see reviewed let us know, and we will look into it.