Month: May 2012
Good news on the frontier of OESH sales. We have now officially exhausted the entire inventory of OESH Classics, size 11. Many thanks to all of you who helped make this happen!
For those of you disappointed, the OESH philosophy is to create only Limited Edition quantities of our various patterns and colors. This assures you of an always-fresh and consistently intriguing list of footwear styles to choose from. If you are in need of this size, there are still OESH Lizards, size 11 available. At least, they are available until someone lets this dude know what he thought were Lizard 11s actually go “baa” instead of making him go “aaaaaaaaah”.
I just got my copy of the new book “Tread Lightly: Form, Footwear and the Quest for Injury-Free Running,” written by my friends, Pete Larson and Bill Katovsky over at the Natural Running Center. Knowing how much hard work Pete and Bill put into this up to date treatise of running, I was excited to finally see it in print. Among things like running form and nutrition, the book debunks, in a nice systematic way, a number of long-held myths about traditional running shoe design. Pete, the scientist, runner and creator of the most popular blog on running, Runblogger.com, explains a number of findings from my studies on gait and footwear. He also highlights the continued work of my friend and former employee, Jay Dicharry, P.T., who, since I left, now runs the gait laboratory at the University of Virginia, which includes Jay’s now famous Speed Clinic.
The book reviews a number of scientific studies that elucidate the major flaws in traditional athletic shoe design; specifically foam cushioning and technologies that attempt to “control pronation.” In fact, there is an entire chapter, aptly titled “A pronation nation,” explaining how the long-held tradition of attempting to block pronation with arch supports and medial supports in shoes is not only ineffective, but in fact may be detrimental. For example, a study I did (with Jay Dicharry and others) in 2007 showed that even a tiny off-the-shelf arch cushion increases knee joint torque associated with knee osteoarthritis. The chapter supports what I’ve always said: we ALL pronate and for good reason – to protect our joints upward from the foot.
And here’s what the book says about OESH:
Fed up with a market filled with what she feels are poorly designed shoes with foam midsoles that don’t provide the necessary compliance that the body needs, Kerrigan resigned her tenured position as chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Virginia to start a shoe company called OESH with her husband, Robert Kusyk. Together, they had decided that she could have a more positive impact on foot and leg health by developing a new type of footwear rather than by spending her days in the clinic or publishing academic papers. Her first shoes were released in 2011 and possess a midsole comprised of carbon fiber cantilevers instead of foam, with the specific goal of providing a sole that can compress and release in tune with the rise and fall of the mass of the body. Time will tell whether Kerrigan’s decades of research have led to the creation of a shoe that will put a dent in the epidemic of joint injuries that plague so many people today.
Enough already. This is a good book. If you are an experienced or beginning runner, it is a must read… you can buy it here.
Remarkable OESHer Becky Mitchell has just returned to the USA after a lovely, extensive family trip to Italy. The Mitchells loved Firenze. And so did Becky’s size 8 Classics:
Perhaps less well-known is that Michelangelo’s David recently enjoyed a short break to visit America after his 500+ years in Florence, taking a brief holiday from where he is customarily poised inside the extraordinary Accademia.
As we all know, there are many men who wish we made larger sized OESH. And now we know of a new candidate, whose short stay in America has perhaps created a sense of urgency to get down from the pedestal and begin a healthier, less “fast-food” lifestyle upon returning to Italy. We’d even make him a custom pair of OESH if he’d agree to exercise once in a while.
It is amazing how quickly the OESH name is gaining prominence in both the key-word and blogosphere orbits. I say this because we often take our own tour of the same searches you might to see the influence OESH is developing. Today I jumped aboard the “plantar fasciitis and OESH” phrase to learn what a curious–and usually, in pain–surfer will find.
Scrolling through several of these entries (many of which are the magnificent OESH blogs, especially relevant for women dealing with pf at rates 2x of guys), leaping out is the compelling work of Paul Ingraham and his dense, readable, and one-of-a-kind site, PainScience.com. Paul connects the dots between OESH and plantar fasciitis like few other scientists–and his validation-of-concept is a beautiful support piece to the many wonderful stories of OESH helping you hurdle pf, some dramatically. Paul is irreverent and totally unafraid to speak his mind–consequently there is always an undercurrent from the status quo eager to diminish his piercing analyses. In fact, of course, Paul is remarkably honest. And intelligent. Casey especially enjoys her relationship with Paul, and we feel great that they have traded guest posts (Paul’s OESH blog on the virtues of exercise later became one of our most-read posts).
Once my search brought Paul’s site up (www.PainScience.com), I quickly found two noteworthy mentions of OESH on the Pain Science platform. In one, Paul’s easy-to-read tutorial on plantar fasciitis (which is a bargain for twenty bucks, by the way) notes a New section #5.21 “Now officially endorsing Oesh shoes“. This is a huge leap for PainScience.com, which almost NEVER endorses anything beyond rigorous common sense (hence the above homage to Voltaire, the dude with the most-awesome quote in Candide, “common sense is not so common”).
In the other entry, Paul pushes the envelope on the question of “Can orthotics prevent injuries?” and answers it with the reason he endorses OESH:
Perhaps some high-tech shoes…The idea of most…mass-produced running and walking shoes [is] simple shock absorption. The benefit of this mostly boils down to injury prevention — if they can’t reduce painful problems, what’s the point? The hope has produced mostly gimmicky, expensive shoes that have had little or no significant benefit for consumers. I’ll provide one good example and one poor one.
The most promising example I know of is OESH Shoes, the creation of Dr. Casey Kerrigan, who left a promising career in biomechanics research to found a shoe company. It turns out that the goal isn’t so much to “absorb shock” as to change your gait by simulating a springier surface:
We all bought into the idea that foam, gel, air filled bladders, and the latest “shock absorbers” cushioned our joints and reduced pressures on them. But now you know why that doesn’t work. Impact is not when injury occurs, so cushioning it doesn’t do us any good. In fact, cushioning impact seems to do more harm than good — one of the reasons why I found that cushioning ends up increasing the peak pressures on joints.
So rather than “absorbing shock” at heel strike, Dr. Kerrigan designed a shoe that literally puts a spring in your step — little carbon-fiber springboards — and more spring in the shoe means less spring and bending in the joints. The benefits are far from proven, but it is a sound and science-inspired principle (and interesting). There’s a respectable chance that Dr. Kerrigan’s shoes actually do reduce injury-causing forces more than other shoes, since that was the whole point of a design inspired by years of research. That’s more than we can say of any other shoe that I know of.
These are interesting shoes that Dr. Kerrigan’s company makes. Following from some of the science described above, they are based on quite a different principle than other shoes: they are “the first and only footwear with a midsole that provides compression and release, when and only when it should. Despite what we’ve been led to believe, no foam, plastic, air, gel, or metal ever achieved this.”
Paul concludes with a left hook, befitting his provocative style:
For an example of a much less promising shoe idea, I submit exhibit B: minimalist running shoes, the ones that look like feet, like Vibram FiveFingers. This is a fad, based on speculation about our “natural” ability to run shoeless. It is unlikely to prove to be a big injury preventer. For detailed (and quite snarky) analysis of that hot topic, see my article, Does barefoot running prevent injuries? A dive into the science so far of barefoot or minimalist “natural” running.
OESH & plantar fasciitis–the connection takes us on a journey of which Voltaire would be proud!
A new article about OESH for a fascinating trade magazine is coming your way in the next few weeks. We’ll have more on it when published, but the upshot is that this effort will highlight many of the remarkable engineering and equipment decisions that have made OESH hum. Hummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm we go!
And the photographs were spectacular–here is the Boss showing you one way to hold the Classics (in front of self-built press ovens):
And another (on her feet):
Frequently, the photographer of such magnificent images doesn’t get her/his due. In this instance, the SAME DUDE, Andrew Shurtleff, took both the photographs of Casey as well as this killer image of our oldest daughter rocketing one into the net during a recent high school lacrosse game. Heh Andrew, take a bow!
As a 15 year-old sophomore, Jayme is a total beast, currently the leading scorer in Central Virginia with 85 goals (not a typo) in only 12 games. Note the forearms and triceps of the urchin–a chip off the ol’ block, for sure. Jayme trains in OESH by the way:
These photographs got us thinking of how fun it would be to see YOU in those situations where you like to go with your OESH. Whether you are at your job, with your family, on vacation, or washing the dog–we’d be psyched for any photos of where your OESH take you. Just email ’em to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll have fun showing each other what OESHers love to do.