OESH Thanksgiving reprise, again and again: Speed of lightning, Roar of thunder…OESH is here!

A tradition we have now maintained for our fourth consecutive year, and back by popular demand, is the blog we posted for the First OESH Thanksgiving. The annual parade in New York City is the backdrop for all here at hq to wish you and your gathering a wonderful Thanksgiving, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014!

This photo of Underdog is from the Macy’s Parade the first year we actually saw it, in 1983.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 1983

I especially remember walking around 77th street and watching them blow this guy up at 11 o’clock on Wednesday night–it’s now 31 years ago. It’s a good thing Underdog was netted that evening–it was quite windy and if he had gotten loose he might not have responded to traditional canine commands to get in line for the parade (had he blown across the Hudson River, for instance) on Thursday morning.

And here is a certain young lady “I’m a size 8 but a size 10 feels real gooooood” from that same year. As we see Olive Oyl approaching the Dakota on Central Park West, Ms. Oyl would have gained benefit from OESH–that tendency to create a 180° angle with her feet (common to many cartoon characters, apparently) would clearly be mitigated by a compliant weight-bearing architecture allowing for a unique and healthy re-distribution of forces leading to more efficient foot motion and even, perhaps, a realistic view of proper footwear sizing. I shudder at the size of the machinery required to properly make her that compliant sole, though. But Olive would be PSYCHED to wear a pair of La Vida v2.0–and she’s a natural for the Charcoals.

Macy's Olive Oyl 1983

Have a great Holiday!

OESH La Vida v2.0 Christmas SALE begins!

Health is one AWESOME Gift to receive!

Health is one AWESOME Gift to receive!

The time to prepare for another Holiday Season is upon us!

To say thank you for another wonderful year, we’ve created another hefty SALE to keep you (and your dearest friends) well-stocked with our potent La Vida v2.0 shoes. To receive the Discount Code, simply shoot us a quick email here: service@oeshshoes.com

Same wonderful, unique, responsive OESH Sole that you love. ALL colors and sizes are available, and we’ve already begun the shipping process for the first orders to go onto the sleigh. As always, the sooner you order, the sooner you can jump into the ship-to queue. Like last year–we never missed a single Christmas delivery for orders placed by December 17–all here are going to make certain your feet have another Merry Christmas!

Off we go to get more shoes boxed up and cozy under your Christmas tree.

Viva La Vida!

 

La Vida at Oxford

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Our summer intern, Jayme Kusyk, also known as our oldest daughter, is about a month in to being a freshman (or “Fresher” as they say “up there”) at Oxford in England. She’s majoring in English (or as they say, “reading” English). She’s always loved English and turned down admissions to Yale and Brown because, as she explained to me, “Mommy, Oxford is where English was invented.” In addition to excelling in the standard American college requirements, she had to fulfill Oxford’s own requirements, taking a special exam, etc. She’s always wanted to go to Oxford and now she’s there, studying with the best of the best. And in her ample time (because it doesn’t seem like she’s sleeping much), she’s playing for Oxford’s Varsity Lacrosse Team, wearing exclusively, of course, her OESH La Vida’s. Above, she is with her little sister, Zoe, who flew out with Bob to see the first big Oxford-Cambridge game today. Oxford lost, but no worries, Jayme is just a Fresher.

We’re so happy for Jayme but we also miss her hugely. It helps, I suppose, that we’re super busy and that she’s busy too. From the sounds of it, she’s turning in a paper about every ten seconds. But in between her assignments, she’s gotten in a few emails to the family, which, in my completely biased opinion, are priceless:

(1) Upon arrival, I (1) walked into my room (2) screwed the head onto my lacrosse stick (3) noticed a door in the wall that looked like a closet (4) opened the door and (5) almost screamed aloud because this tiny room contains a shower AND a toilet AND a sink. Yeah, I know.  
(2) I literally feel as though I’m at Hogwarts right now. Last night, we had our Freshers’ Formal – it was, to a tee, that scene towards the beginning of Chariots of Fire where all the bloody tabs are eating in that hall, and Aubrey describes it in the voiceover as “a sumptuous affair”. Everyone was in their best clothes, and there were four courses; it lasted almost two and a half hours. The food was all really, really good – it’s supposed to be the best meal of the year – and there was so much silverware on either side of my plate(s) that things became pretty confusing. Luckily, I was sitting across from an Eton boy; naturally, he was very familiar with all the utensils, so I just copied him. Afterwards, I felt like Harry does after his first night at the Hogwarts feast: but instead of reeling away from Great Hall happy, completely stuffed, and exhausted to Gryffindor Tower, all the freshers were herded down into the bar to meet their college parents… 
(3) In response to some of your questions and comments…Yes, the shower is nice, and it is delightful to not have to regularly remove hair from it. No, I have not yet (unnecessarily) sat on my sink. I am loving my bathrobe nevertheless; I wear it around my room and it will definitely come in handy if there is a fire or something. Yes, the lacrosse team is nice, VERY nice. England is great! Yes, I am safe.  
(4) Yes, the November 12th game with Cambridge is an absolute certainty, and, again, it’s at home – reserve away, and I’ll see you soon on Pitch #8 in University Parks. On an incidental but unrelated note, would it be possible to make approximately three dozen pairs of white and navy-blue La Vida with “OULC” written on the tongue? Approximately three dozen individuals are currently clamoring for just such an enterprise.

We respond that indeed, we’ll get those special OESH La Vida colors made for the team. But in the meantime, everyone’s pretty happy with the White Sands.

I know she’ll continue to rip it up and have a great time but that doesn’t keep me from always being worried. Last week as we were talking on Skype and she was telling us about that fantabulous lecture, my mind wandered…what if she chokes on that apple she’s eating while talking to us? She’s so excited, that COULD happen. I wouldn’t be able to do anything but watch…how horrible would that be? I relay that fear to her and she says “no worries, if that happens, I’ll shut off my computer.”

Viva La Vida

Making the Sole Molds

DSC_0030For anyone who still doubts that a woman physician not only designs but actually machines the molds for the popular OESH La Vida’s, here you go. Why do I machine our own molds? Because, frankly, I’m the only one who can.

After laboring over CAD/CAM programming files, setting up the jig, securing the mold forms, and deciding which endmills and feeds and speeds to use, I take a good deep breath and click the “Go” button on the computer that operates the CNC milling machine. When all goes as programmed…the coolant comes on, the endmill centers itself where it’s supposed to, and the turning of the mill sounds “right”… I step back and smile.

It never gets old watching the roughing endmill cut down to that perfect depth. But it’s when I change to the first finishing endmill (as I’m doing above) that the details start to emerge and the soles come alive. I can’t help but think of Michelangelo with the advantage of computer programming, powerful stepper motors, and a shop vac to suck away the enormous piles of shavings.

The flex grooves, the treads, the curve in the arch of the foot are exactly how I designed, taking into account every little detail I learned from my human movement research and every little detail in how I want the material to flow when injection molded. No one else but OESH can make these molds. I know exactly which ball end mill will leave the perfect radius for traction. And only I know where to place those air vents and how deep to make them to get that flow, carbon fiber orientation, and all those gait mechanics just right.

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Above are the almost finished bottom half of some La Vida molds.

Viva La Vida!

High heel shoes: the new fashion faux pas

This just in from the Wall Street Journal Fashion Section: high-heeled shoes appear to be very yesterday.

According to the article published last week entitled, “Are High Heels Dead?”, there’s been a strong trend toward low flat shoes like sneakers that may lead to a lasting change in women’s footwear. For example, this Spring, high-heels were nowhere to be seen on the fashion runways.

Rejoice!

As the woman who first discovered the link between high-heeled shoes and knee arthritis back in 1998, I couldn’t be happier. If you never saw it, for giggles, see this clip on ABC’s 20/20:

I have to admit that my feelings have been a little hurt all these years that fashion didn’t immediately change with that discovery. Come on, you’d think that something as medically important as knee arthritis would trump fashion, but it didn’t. Until now! Ha!

I’d like to think that our OESH La Vida has had a little something to do with this recent shift in fashion. Yes, I designed OESH with health in mind, but guess what? Our La Vida has become, gulp, a fashion statement and we are getting requests to, gulp again, feature them in fashion shows. (When we actually accept a request, we’ll let you know.)

Of course, you OESHers don’t need Paris or the Wall Street Journal to tell you that your La Vidas are fashionable. Thank you for posting on social media outlets and sending us pictures of your wearing them at weddings and other fancy occasions. Please keep posting and sending pictures because healthy is and forever will be fashionable.

D. Casey Kerrigan, Mary K. Todd, Patrick O. Riley. Knee Osteoarthritis and High-Heeled Shoes. The Lancet. 1998:351(9113):1399-1401.
D. Casey Kerrigan, Jennifer L. Lelas, Mark E. Karvosky. Women’s Shoes and Knee Osteoarthritis. The Lancet. 2001:357(9262):1097-1098.
D. Casey Kerrigan, Jennifer Lelas Johansson, Mary F. Bryant, Jeniffer A. Boxer, Ugo Della Croce, Patrick O. Riley. Moderate-heeled shoes and knee joint torques relevant to the development and progression of knee osteoarthritis. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2005:86(5):871-5.

Children in a Shoe Factory?

When I set out to make healthy shoes, a fellow physician friend of mine said, “Casey, knowing you, you’re going to hate those sweat shops and you’re going to want to do something about it.” Indeed, I did hate every shoe factory I visited (and believe me, I visited a lot of them). I didn’t need to be a physician to realize they are a violation to everyone’s health not just the person wearing the final product.

The rest of the story, as they say, is history. I built my own factory, become an expert in materials, computerized machinery and 3-D manufacturing and re-defined what a shoe factory should be.

The major benefit of building the OESH Factory is that it allowed me to design, develop and make shoes with the most sophisticated and superior sole materials that just couldn’t have been done any other way. Along the way, OESH has built a reputation for not only making the healthiest shoes, but for setting an example for what innovative technology applied to manufacturing can do.

This year we’ve had so many requests from educational groups and organizations for tours of the factory that we’ve sadly had to say “no” to the large majority. If we did not, there would be no time left to make all those wonderful La Vidas! But when we do give tours, I love it. This is so different from when I used to give tours of the hospital, trying my best to inspire children to become physicians. No matter how hard I tried, there was a lot of yawning.

This time around, I can show them things they really seem to like: shoe parts, a computerized milling machine, 3-D printers, hydraulic press “monsters,” an injection molding machine that I explain is basically a huge, fancy hot glue gun with a lot of accessories, and a computerized machine that cuts through six inches of steel with just water and sand (like how the Grand Canyon was created). There is no yawning. There is a lot of touching, which for the most part is okay. (They LOVE the warning sign on one of the machines that depicts fingers being cleanly sliced off.) I tell them I’m a physician by training, and somehow, they seem far more interested in becoming a physician than the groups I used to give hospital tours to.

Science and medicine is not abstract. They are fascinated with my research using 3-D motion analysis and force plates showing the effects of shoes on forces in the body. More so than if I were to to go over that same research in a hospital tour. They easily connect the dots on how a shoe must be designed so as to help not hinder the body.

A lot of them have experience with 3-D printers. Their schools typically have one or ten of them lying around. They immediately relate to a new way of manufacturing shoes using computers and 3-D manufacturing. In fact, they seem proud that they’re learning new technologies that their parents may not know too much about. It’s easy for them to envision making shoes in an entirely different way than what’s ever been done. And they get the whole sustainability thing.

Children in a shoe factory? Heck yeah! As long as it’s OESH’s.

8th graders from Buford Middle School, Charlottesville, Virginia

8th graders from Buford Middle School, Charlottesville, Virginia

Beating Knee Pain & Everyone Else

Last year, when I started working at OESH, I sent my mom a pair of La Vidas from our first production run. She had always been an avid runner but a couple years ago she started getting bad knee pains which prevented her from running as much as she liked. I sent her that first pair hoping they would help her knee pain and in fact, not long after, she was out running again. She was back to running about 3 miles a few times a week and ever since has been doing any 5K she can find. Her goal is to complete at least one 5K a month. This brings us to a couple weekends ago when I had gone back to the Eastern Shore of Maryland to visit my parents. My mom was running in the Chester River Crab Chase 5K in Chestertown, MD the following morning so I decided to join her. We got up early, put on our OESH La Vida 2.0 (I wore rococco, she wore her fiji) and headed out to the race. She received first place in her age group as I received second place in mine. This is not the first time she has won first place in her age group as she is always sending us pictures of her first place winnings. It is great to see her back in the running game and healthy as ever! Way to go Mom!

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Featured Speaker at the Maker Faire

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“A maker is a person or thing that makes or produces something.” Historically a maker does metalworking, woodworking, and/or traditional arts and crafts, but more recently the term “maker” has become synonymous with being engaged in engineering-oriented pursuits such as electronics, robotics, 3-D manufacturing, and the use of CNC tools. Insofar as OESH, unlike any other shoe company that we are aware of, employs all these latest high tech methods to make shoes, we qualify as modern-day makers.

In fact, it was quite an honor to be featured at the Maker’s Faire in Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend. Right alongside one of the most famous makers of the United States, Thomas Jefferson.

In about 20 minutes I jam packed all there is to know about OESH and the future of shoe design and manufacturing…from my research that informs the design of shoes to the futuristic, high-tech engineering, including 3-D design and CNC tools that we’ve been using to make OESH shoes. As it was a fairly technical crowd, I expected some technical questions. I didn’t get any. Rather, I got the “why don’t you make shoes for men?” The answer is, “Sorry guys, women first. (But if you’re a size 10 or smaller, go for it – just order two sizes bigger.)”

My talk was followed with an act by a Thomas Jefferson masked impersonator. Funny…no one asked him why the things he made (like the University of Virginia) were only for men.

Onward!

A Game of Catch – A Good Read

In the spirit of being back to school, I thought I’d hit you with one more OESH book review.

Every once in a while, I’m lucky enough to come across a great book that might not have the visibility we’re usually afforded with excellent literature. But A Game of Catch by our friend and daughters’ middle school English teacher, Proal Hartwell (at the Village School in Charlottesville, Virginia – the nation’s first all girls middle school), is too good to stay in the shadows for long.

A Game of Catch

 

 

Broadly speaking, not enough “readable” fiction has been able to bring across the turbulence and confusion of the American generation raised during the Vietnam War. Separating Catch from the pack is the absence of anger and the abundance of compassion in its central characters (Will on the left and Joe on the right).

 

 

 

However, without a master lighting up the manuscript, any book stops out at fiction, which isn’t necessarily literature. It’s in the hinge of this story that you know that you are in the capable hands of an artist. And when Joe Washington’s father visits an otherwise bleached Church congregation, it’s worth listening to the actual words of our author, as the minister “Dr. Taylor, tried to continue his reading, but faltered, aware that the real lesson was in the church and not on the page in front of him.”

From there, the story only gathers more heft. And grace.

You can get your own copy, right here.

Onward!

1:59 The Sub-Two-Hour Marathon is Within Reach – Not just a “Guy” Book

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Anyone who has ever run a marathon, is thinking of running a marathon or is even just thinking of someone who is thinking of running a marathon, will find this book an excellent read. Written by Phil Maffetone, with Bill Katovsky, friends of mine from the Natural Running Center, it’s packed with interesting facts (did you know that the Marathon has only recently been 26.2 miles?) and sensible but not commonly given advice for long distance training.

Phil predicts that soon, probably within the next few years, someone will break the two-hour barrier for running a marathon. (Currently, the official world record is two hours, three minutes and 23 seconds.) The person who does it first may become as famous as Roger Banister became for breaking the four-minute mile barrier when he was a student at Oxford University. Personally, I admire Roger more for becoming a brilliant physician. That’s another story, but speaking of fellow multi-talented physicians who change the world’s thinking, Phil Maffetone is one of these. Phil is not only a physician (and musician), he’s been a long distance training coach for many years, for many people, some of whom, without mentioning names, have been pretty famous.

Have you ever been told by a well-meaning coach, “No pain, no gain?” Thankfully, Phil provides medically sound arguments why that is not such a great idea. Rather, you need to listen to our own body. Phil discusses exactly how one goes about this “listening,” monitoring your resting heart rate when you first wake up in the morning, for example. He gives advice about how hard to train and for how long. He also gives advice for running form, nutrition, (provides a few recipes even), sleep and footwear (it should come as no surprise that he is not a fan of heavily cushioned, “supportive” running shoes). The book is meant to help anyone, not just an elite marathoner, run faster and more efficiently, with fewer injuries.

Phil talks about why he thinks Kenyans and Ethiopans are winning most marathons today and why he thinks that trend may not continue. Counter to common belief, he believes their success has little to do with genetics but is more largely due to their environment, which is changing.

Phil predicts that a man will be the first to run a marathon under two hours. BUT, he also predicts that soon after, a woman will break the two-hour barrier. The gender gap in world record time for the marathon is smaller than it is for shorter races. We women have a number of genetic and physical attributes that make us quite suitable for long distance running. The current woman’s world record is 2:15:25, set by Paula Radcliffe in 2003. Back when Roger Banister was running in 1954, Paula’s marathon time would have been THE world record, men and women included.

Mostly, the book is inspiring. I’ve run a number of marathons in my life, the first one when I was 15 years old and probably, at the time (1977), the fastest (and only) woman my age in the race. Although I run every day, I haven’t run a marathon for awhile, and wasn’t thinking of running one anytime soon…until I read this book. If and when I do, I’m counting on there being a lot of women my age to run with.