Cochrane man’s invention helps make downhill hiking less painful

A southern Alberta man has created a hiking shoe accessory to help reduce knee fatigue when descending the slopes.

COCHRANE, Alta — A Cochrane man recently partnered with Red Deer Polytechnic (RDP) to design a product that has helped him get back to one of his favorite activities.

Georges-André Tambay required surgery after tearing his ACL in both knees while playing soccer more than 10 years ago.

However, surgeries alone would not allow him to fully resume some of the sports he once enjoyed.

“I love hiking, but when you’re going downhill, that’s when your knees are put under the most strain because your foot is angled,” Tambay said. “You constantly brake on the way down.”

Unable to explore the mountains in his usual form, the man found himself searching for anything that would help relieve some of the strain on his joints.

It took Tambay 10 years of tinkering and digging to find a working solution that got him back on the trails. His first attempt was to modify a pair of crutches he had purchased at Value Village.

It didn’t work as he had hoped, he said, nor were the painkillers enough to get him down a mountain.

What does work though, is an accessory that elevates the front part of both of his feet, slips easily over his hiking boots, and has ties like a ski boot.

This is the Trekstepper design that Tambay came up with, with help from RDP.

“It relieves your knee by lifting the front of your foot,” he explained. “You’re going downhill instead of struggling uphill all the time.”

The product is designed to be small and simple enough that anyone can easily put them on before getting off and then just as quickly take them off when no longer needed.

Treksteppers are made in pairs – one for each foot – and are designed for anyone with aching or aging joints who wants to be able to hike without the extra effort.

For Tambay, it’s important to be able to try and keep doing the things you love as you get older, even when physical challenges arise.

The product is patented in Canada and the United States, according to Tambay, but it has yet to find an investor to help with production.

Currently, he only has a few pairs of Treksteppers, which cost him over $100 to make. They come in three different sizes depending on the height of the user and Tambay loaned them out here and there to gather as much feedback as possible.

Once he launches the product, he hopes he can ease the pain of others so they too can start enjoying the outdoors again or discover a new hobby they didn’t think was possible for themselves.

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