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:
By Wendy Bumgardner, About.com Guide
Updated January 09, 2012
About.com Health’s Disease and Condition content is reviewed by our Medical Review Board
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).