Why I love my shoes

OESH is always flattered beyond measure when you take the time to say “thank-you”. It means even more when you put it in the form of an email–and we try to post as many comments as we can on the ever-growing OESHers SAY page of testimonials.

But every once in a while, we want to give proper space to a unique OESHer–and today’s post is one of those neat opportunities. Overcoming flat feet, told previously that she over-pronates, and worst of all battling plantar fasciitis, Lisa Graziano not only loves her OESH, she wrote a blog about them on her website. Lisa is in the midst of training for Charlottesville’s 10-miler held every spring. And she credits OESH with so much love, we are beaming with pride.

Go Lisa!

Architecture, Carbon Fiber, and OESH

Of late, I’ve been interacting quite a bit with the University of Virginia School of Architecture. Probably has something to do with the fact that the renowned professor and former Dean of the School, Karen Van Lengen, is an avid OESHer and very good friend. Karen has gotten the School of Architecture turned on to OESH and everyone in her family is now wearing them as well. Of my many appointments I had at UVa (in the School of Medicine, School of Engineering, School of Education, and the Athletics Department), I never officially worked with the School of Architecture, until now.

Next month the School is putting together an exhibit and public forum called Mapping Materials. This endeavor, spearheaded by a number of Architecture faculty, will help lay the groundwork for building a materials library and database. The purpose of the database is to facilitate novel approaches to incorporating different types of material into design practice and research. In this respect, I’m honored to have been invited to present the OESH Shoe design, with special reference to the use of carbon fiber.

Here is my 500-word synopsis and the photo that will be included in the exhibit:

The carbon fiber midsole design of the OESH shoe was borne from my 20+ years of studying gait (walking and running) and the effects of footwear using 3-D motion analysis and instrumented force plates. The OESH midsole comprises a series of V-shaped carbon fiber units oriented in the sole such that they compress and release in tune with when lower extremity joint forces and pressures are at their highest. Current (non-OESH) athletic shoes can cushion the inconsequential forces that occur at impact but none effectively compress and release when the large joint forces and pressures associated with osteoarthritis and other injuries actually occur.

It has been known for some time that a truly compliant surface, i.e., one that can be demonstrated to compress and release in tune with when forces and pressures are their highest, reduces injuries. For example, the Harvard Indoor Track, which comprises a series of plywood sheets draped over wood supports, provides measurable compliance and has been shown to reduce injury rate by 50%. However, getting that same type of ground surface compliance into a shoe sole had never been achieved.

The critical factor in designing a shoe sole that provides effective compliance was to understand the natural progression of forces through the foot that occur when walking, running or even just while standing. The design and orientation of the V-shaped units are such that they do not work against but rather work with this natural progression of forces that occurs consistently in every person, no matter what foot or “gait” type one has.

To be effective, the V-shaped units needed to be able to support a body weight ranging from 80 to 300 pounds. After constructing prototype shoes with carbon fiber units and demonstrating their effectiveness in the gait laboratory, the next step was to establish a mechanism to mass produce the units. I set up a factory here in Charlottesville where I use a process called filament winding which is more typically used with carbon fiber to make casings for rocket motors. Carbon fiber is wound through an epoxy resin around a mandrel that forms the V-shaped units. After the fiber is wound, the composite is heat cured and then cut into their final forms using a CNC waterjet saw. The entire process is fully automated. We have been producing and selling OESH shoes now since 2011 with great success. See www.OESHshoes.com for more details.

The display will run from February 5-25 in Campbell Hall’s Elmaleh Gallery at the University of Virginia. If you are in the area or are planning on a trip to the OESH factory then, check it out!

Facebook likes OESH & OESH likes Facebook

It’s been less than two months since we began focusing our OESH external marketing onto Facebook And holy cow, WE ALL LIKE ONE ANOTHER!!! The standard Facebook currency of value has exploded for us–from somewhat of a flat-footed start, we have built over 1,000 new likes in less than two months, and more impressively, that is a whopping 400%+ increase.

As Rick said, “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship”.

About.com reviews OESH…”Immediately, I liked the shoes”

Perhaps no general information site for health and basic medical conditions grabs more clicks than About.com. It is likely that Wendy Bumgardner, the About.com Guide of Walking, is the most experienced and savvy reviewer in the broadly defined on-line Walking category.

Let’s now add Wendy to the ever-growing list of independent voices RAISING A GLASS TO THE VIRTUES OF OESH!!!

Here is the About.com review:

OESH Shoes Review

Disruptive Technology?

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

By , About.com Guide

Updated January 09, 2012

About.com Health’s Disease and Condition content is reviewed by our Medical Review Board

OESH ShoesOESH Shoes
Wendy Bumgardner © 2012

The designers of OESH shoes say they have a “disruptive” technology — a midsole unlike any other running/walking shoe. They use carbon fiber cantilevers in the midsole to compress and release at the correct time during a stride. I tried a pair and liked them for many reasons. They are an excellent comfort shoe for all-day wear and as a fitness walking shoe for treadmill or outdoors walking.

The name itself, OESH, is SHOE “upside down and inside out” to signify the unique technology. The shoe design comes from Dr. Casey Kerrigan and her colleagues in material sciences at the University of Virginia mechanical & aerospace engineering department. She is a published author of peer-reviewed research papers in the kinetics of running and walking.

A New Kind of Midsole

The theory behind OESH shoes is that the traditional designs of the midsole of athletic shoes is all wrong. They say that the foam, gel, air insoles and other materials used in most athletic shoes “give” at the wrong point of the stride, when your foot first impacts the ground.

OESH shoes have carbon fiber cantilevers in the heel and forefoot to give the desired compression and release during your stride — at the time your weight is fully planted on your foot, not beforehand. They believe this would protect against the stresses that might lead to knee osteoarthritis, plantar fasciitis, shin splints and stress fractures.

With the design of the OESH Classic model, the cantilevers in the sole are visible on the inside (big toe) side of the sole. The sole is solid on the outside side of the shoe.

The designers also think this shoe eliminates the need for orthotics. It truly is a disruptive concept that goes against the mainstream of thought in correcting overpronation with motion control shoes and custom orthotics.

The shoe doesn’t have an unusual appearance, it looks like a walking or comfort shoe. As of 2012, they have a classic design which looks like a walking shoe or comfort shoe and a Lizard design, which looks like a running shoe. The shoe is not stiff, you can bend it at the toe and twist it.

Zero Drop from Heel to Forefoot

Walkers don’t need a built-up heel, yet many running shoes have a significantly built-up heel to provide stability for runners who land on their forefoot or midfoot. Walkers are supposed to plant their heel first. OESH shoes truly have a zero drop between heel and forefoot, which should allow for a better gait by walkers.

Wearing OESH Shoes

All of this theory means nothing to me until I wear the shoes. Immediately, I liked the shoes.

Style: I like the style of the black Classic model, it works well for me as a comfort shoe for all-day wear. They look like classic walking shoes, with a leather and mesh upper. The tongue and the heel tab are well-padded.

Room: I have a wide foot and these shoes had enough room in the toebox for me. That might mean they are too roomy for a narrow foot. But they seemed to have a good fit around the heel without being sloppy.

Lacing: The lacing system is adequate, but not sophisticated enough to do many custom techniques.

Weight: I prefer a lighter-weight shoe. While the substantial uppers give the shoe some weight, the sole itself is very light. The result is that the shoes do not feel heavy on, they feel just right.

Walking: The shoe feels a little springy while you walk, but mostly I just get a sensation of wearing a comfortable shoe I don’t mind walking in all day long.

With the OESH shoes, my stride simply feels natural. My foot isn’t fighting the shoe in any way. Out of the box, I felt like I had found an excellent comfort shoe I could also wear for fitness walking on my breaks and lunches.

Noise and Debris: One of my shoes seems to make a slight clicking sound with each step as the cantilevers compress and release. With the open cantilever design, I would worry about them picking up debris when I walk outdoors.

Bottom Line on OESH Shoes

These shoes are still in the development phase and therefore carry a high price tag, currently listed for $195. The developers have published peer-reviewed research into human walking and running and the effects of running shoe design, which I reported on in previous years. But they don’t yet have peer-reviewed studies as to whether this specific design can actually reduce injuries.

Personally, I like the shoes for my specific needs and I didn’t feel they were doing something weird to my stride that might lead to injuries (unlike most comfort shoes).

If you have specific foot problems and pain, it is best to consult a podiatrist.


D. Casey Kerrigan, MD, Jason R. Franz, MS, Geoffrey S. Keenan, MD, Jay Dicharry, MPT, Ugo Della Croce, PhD, and Robert P. Wilder, MD. “The Effect of Running Shoes on Lower Extremity Joint Torques.” PM&R: The journal of injury, function and rehabilitation, Volume 1, Issue 12, Pages 1058-1063 (December 2009).

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

Plantar fasciitis and Dwyane Wade–What took so long?

Glancing through the sports news this morning, I was reminded again of the value of one of the most popular posts Casey wrote last year: OESH: A sustainable treatment for plantar fasciitis

The science, logic, and medical sensitivity of her thorough discussion of why a measured use of OESH offers a reasonable shot at licking this condition (buttressed by so many of your own comments and emails), contrasts sharply with much ado on the Florida sports pages today over basketball superduperstar Dwyane Wade and his recent foot ailments, quietly “rumored” to be plantar fasciitis. We should take a vote on this…How do we really feel about this dude’s issue? He is paid millions (not a typo) to shill footwear–googling ‘dwyane wade footwear’ brings over a thousand (not a typo) images of psychedelic colored basketball shoes into your computer screen.

EACH of Wade’s shoes (about 2% of which are shown) features the trademark high heel of this brand’s finest…the first ticket on a one-way trip to foot immobilization and the long-term health consequences of poor footwear choices.

All we can offer to help Mr. Wade, who despite the noise he makes, still has to contend with lousy footwear choices, is Discover OESH in 2012!

OESH in 2012…On top of the world!

Welcome to 2012. And here is our Annual Business Plan™: The volume in our first year was heavy. Along the way, many of you told us that you would like a broader array of OESH styles, like…uh…a sandal to wear in the summer…so later this year we plan on a few additions to our awesome all-day athletic line. Clearly, there is an overwhelming need for evidence-based footwear, and we feel fortunate that OESH is the only shoe that can supply this unique demand. Indeed, the s-h-o-e is being reinvented with every set of O-E-S-H cantilevers we make here in Virginia, USA.

Stay tuned for those new styles–and for those of you not ‘on it’, certainly jump onto our emailing list (service@oeshshoes.com) so you will hear the details about that limited availability first.

Meanwhile, the OESH you see looking at Lake Michigan from the viewing deck of Chicago’s (formerly named) Sears Tower reminds me of the wild summer job I had in 1978–as a janitor in that very building, then the tallest in the world. 108 stories is still rare air if you ask me…