It began with a patient – a tough Navy Veteran and avid golfer in his 80s – who had been hospitalized for chronic back and hip pain. But after weeks of tests, medications and steroid injections, his pain persisted. And although his quality of life was clearly compromised, his biggest complaint was that he wasn’t able to play golf. As a last resort, it was recommended that he make an appointment with Chiropractic Orthopedist Dr. Ron Safko.
The patient’s condition was familiar to Dr. Safko. “As we age, we all develop what I consider to be a ‘functional scoliosis’. In other words, we tend to favor one side of our body until we eventually create an imbalance in our posture. Most daily activities are done engaging the right side of our bodies, and this is most evident in the pelvic area. The pelvis is the foundation of the spine, where balance, stability, posture and movement are controlled. At times, what many patients – and even doctors – think is a spinal condition may actually be a lumbar-pelvic-hip imbalance. Align and support this area, and you stabilize the entire lower back.”
Although Dr. Safko was able to alleviate this patient’s pain, his condition returned after every golf swing. Dr. Safko explained that they needed to find a way to stabilize his pelvis so that he could continue to function – and golf regularly – despite the pain. However, Dr. Safko had never been comfortable with recommending any existing belt on the market. “Not a single one addressed essential pelvic alignment to my satisfaction” Safko explains. “‘So,” my patient asked, ‘why don’t you design a belt that does?”
For Dr. Safko, a US Marine who served in Vietnam, the goal was clear. “To do it the Marine way,” he says, “means to get the job done the right way: Most back supports restrict mobility and weaken the core muscles, thus leading to a destabilization of the low back. I wanted the exact opposite, to create a support that would stabilize the pelvic area and encourage core muscle engagement.” After much scientific research and reviewing virtually every product on the market, Dr. Safko found that no belt met his requirements. Using his patient base as eager volunteers, he began to design different prototypes for their daily wear. He partnered with Agapo, a full service apparel manufacturing company with over 30 years experience in the garment industry, and together they began manufacturing prototypes. After four years of research, design and field-testing, Dr. Safko finally arrived at what he calls the ‘X Factor®’.
He and his golfer-patient-turned-venture-partner shared the prototype at a PGA Convention, and the reaction was overwhelming; Veteran golfers tried to purchase the samples. Investors asked for a prospectus. The X-Factor Belt® was born.
“By utilizing small steel ‘X’ stays in the sacral area, I was able to stabilize the lower lumbar spine segments without weakening the core muscles,” Safko explains. “In addition to these core stabilizers, I strategically placed soft stretchable compression Xs to protect against excessive pelvic twisting, tilting or over-extension associated with golf and other sports that result in pelvic torque. The specific orthopedic arrangement of these Xs resulted in what can be called “Enhanced Momentum Control.’ This X Factor™ is the key to ideal lower back support and vital pelvic alignment.”
And that original patient? “I’m happy to report that he’s back to golfing three to four times a week with improved balance, reduced pain and zero restriction of movement,” Dr. Safko says with pride. And although the X-Factor Belt® was originally designed for golfers of a certain age – and one veteran helping another – it has developed into something more than just a groundbreaking back stabilizer and hip support belt. “As I shared the final prototypes with my other patients – some with neuromuscular diseases, arthritic hip pain, lower back and sciatica problems, as well as professional athletes and everyday people with an array of chiropractic issues – it became apparent that the benefits of the X-Factor Belt® were far-reaching,” Dr. Safko says. “They all experienced the same immediate benefits. Many were able to cut back on their pain medications and increase their movement. We realized that we’d designed a comprehensive belt that would help patients of virtually any age return to their active lifestyles.”
Today, Dr. Safko’s X-Factor® Belt stands as the flagship product of a bold new approach to premium aids based on analytical research, patient trials, and practical application. “I invented this out of necessity,” Dr. Safko says, “because no other belt on the market comfortably adjusts the body’s natural imbalance. The X-Factor Belt® is corrective, protective and proven effective.”