I have worked for Dr. James Amis for more 13 years.
The other day, a patient asked me, “What’s it like to work with the inventor of the One Stretch?”
What I told her was he is compassionate, easy to work for, and a genuine problem-solver. You know, all the usual niceties. Then I thought to myself “what really does make him different, because he is different.”
Then it hit me: he is different because he is a visionary.
Allow me to explain.
When it comes to recognizing all the problems we see in the foot/ankle, Dr. Amis is definitely a visionary. He sees what others do not see and it frustrates him because they do not see it, or worse, they do not accept it (the definitive power of calf stretching.) He sees people staying hurt, continuing to have pain and a poor quality of life, spending loads of money in their mission to get right.
And that treatment is aimed at the wrong target.
Dr. Amis knows this concept is disruptive and as a result it is summarily dismissed, and that only drives him harder.
Dr. Amis fights an uphill battle everyday doing what he knows is the right thing. He has understood and seen the power of daily calf stretching everyday for 30 years.
I have personally seen it play out consistently everyday when patients will do it.
It is really unreal how stretching works and I can see why he can get frustrated. Even full time orthopaedic residents who are clearly skeptical in the beginning, become believers after spending a short time with us.
If we see 10 new patients on a given day, at least six of those new patients have plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendinitis ;or second MTP synovitis or another problem that is directly a result of the calf being too tight—too short. So many of these patients have had ongoing treatments, often for 6 months or a year to many years.They come in because prior treatment is not solving the problem for them. I don’t want to generalize, but often they have had a lot of treatments, most of them expensive, including injections, PT and orthotics to name just a few.
They come in to see us dreading having surgery…yet they are certain surgery is the next step because they have “tried everything” short of surgery. At least that is what they think or they are lead to believe.
Their quality of life is not what it should be, which to Dr. Amis is all that counts.
This is when, taking plantar fasciitis for example, Dr. Amis steps in and explains to them that, “The problem is your calf, not your foot.” The usual response to this far fetched idea is being underwhelmed to disappointment to disbelief, even to anger. After all this information can not be readily found on the internet, so it can’t be true. They think “is this guy serious, he obviously does not understand what I am going through.” But he does.
I see first-hand how often, the best solution is understated.
I can’t tell you how much time he takes TALKING THEM OUT OF SURGERY. After all, that is what they are there for, right? They are ready to move on and surgery seems like the obvious solution.
All too often he has stepped out of an exam room, frustrated because of this resistance to his methods saying, “It would be a heck of a lot faster to just sign them up for surgery and move on, but that is not what they need.” That is definitely not how this man rolls.
That is why he made the One Stretch. He wants calf stretching to win.
Changing People’s Quality of Life, the Right Way
So, what really is his vision? His vision is staying the course promoting calf stretching for 30 years despite near complete resistance from both colleagues and patients. He has remained undeterred from his mission to make daily calf stretching as common as brushing our teeth. That is encouraging to see each day.
The issue of getting people to stretch, and to stick to stretching, is the biggest part of the motivation behind the One Stretch: seeing that with the right support and consistency, people can regain hope, and they can regain their quality of life. Instead of a “shot in the ark approach,” we can help people with a definitive treatment.
When you work in our field and you see this kind of foot and heel pain everyday, being able to help someone “get back” a pain-free, and mobile life, takes a lot of vision…No. It takes a visionary.