OESH sees Snowy Joey and delivers FREE International Shipping

Once in a while, a weather image nails the center of the bullseye. Going for a run this summer Virginia morning, with the temperature already pushing above 80, and pulling the newspaper out of the mailbox when I finished, on page A2 I saw this:

This July 16, 2015, photo provided by Bill Shrapnel and photographed through a window shows a Kangaroo on the Colmar Estate vineyard in Orange, New South

This beautiful photograph (thank-you Bill Shrapnel/Colmar Estate and AP) from Orange, New South Wales, in (where else?) Australia, lit me up today.

To the point that we said, let’s do something neat for our friends around the globe. So we are.

A really underrated strength of OESH has always been our international business. OESHers who live outside of the USA wait the longest and put up with the most hassle (Customs…holy cow, what a cabal…) to receive their footwear–and do so almost entirely without complaint. Thus, given the many international OESHers we serve, we thought it would be a nice gesture to offer FREE SHIPPING during the rest of July to those of you outside the USA.

When you order and the international shipping rates are applied, we’ll be refunding those charges prior to shipment through Friday July 31, just to let you know how much we appreciate you wearing your La Vidas and our other spectacular OESH Footwear.

And all because our favorite marsupial took a stroll in the snow. It looks like she’s waiting for the delivery truck with her new Rococcos (I’m guessing she was that order for a pair of size 7s and a pair of size 70s we got last week)…and I’ll be sure to refund that freight charge asap.


Where building construction meets shoe fabrication

This past week we were recognized by Autodesk in one of their fabrication blogs. Autodesk’s Reality Computing blog entitled Where Building Construction Meets Shoe Fabrication highlighted the recent collaboration between OESH and Melissa Goldman’s The World is Flat class at the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture (previous post here). For those unfamiliar with Autodesk, they are a software company which produces powerful computer programs used by designers in a wide variety of fields. At OESH, we have been using their Autodesk Fusion 360 in our latest shoe design and fabrication process (previous post here). Needless to say, making an appearance on an Autodesk blog, especially with our recent collaboration, is pretty exciting.


Both the Autodesk Blog and our previous posts have highlighted the process of working with Melissa Goldman and her class. To recap: it was a semester long course where students worked in groups to design, develop, and print a wearable shoe. Within this, each student had their own research track, and for the second half of the semester, some groups researched materials, hacked tools, and created extruders for said material.


OESH Designed & Fabricated Printer

As with many collaborations, the moment when there is a chance for reflection and evaluation is incredibly valuable. Without everyone explicitly saying it, it was apparent that most students, regardless of what material they were printing, realized that optimizing the design for the specificities of how the printer works was paramount. There are limits to printing, and therefore certain restraints needed to be adhered to. These restraints varied greatly based on printer and material (ie printing icing vs. printing concrete). Another great lesson learned by the students is the importance of a well-designed extruder. Regardless of printing filament, plastic pellets, concrete mixture, paper pulp, or cake icing, the actual material needs to pass through and out of an extruder in order to print. The precision of how the extruder is built must match the material being printed. There is often a fine line between what will and will not work, and it was great to see the students dealing with this challenge at multiple scales and with multiple materials.


Student Designed Concrete Extruder

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Student Designed Icing Extruder on Robot

Another gratifying part of any design collaboration is seeing how each individual interprets the challenge. For instance, one student from outside the Architecture School commented, “at the Architecture School they create space, so I made a shoe with a space in it” (the “space” was in the heel and provided a place for a key or other small necessity). Another student produced a shoe which was a skeletal frame contoured to the foot where fabric could be woven in and out of to form enclosure. Students even produced designs to aid personal needs. There were many ideas, and though they were vastly different and with varying intentions, everyone faced the challenges of designing with the reality of fabricating in mind.


Design & Image by Tori Amato


Design & Image by Carl

The value of this collaboration could be seen in the students’ process of taking a design idea, modifying the tools to make it work, and physically producing the design. It is success such as this which makes us excited to continue the collaboration with the Architecture School into the fall. With Melissa’s help, Dr. Kerrigan will be heading an undergraduate design studio which will dive deeply into the value and challenges of 3-d printing footwear. The end goal of this second collaboration is to merge the creativity and experimental nature of students with the real world fabrication experience and research of Dr. Kerrigan in order to advance 3-d printing for healthy design.

OESH Sells Out! Suede Sandals join Lizards & Classics as official Collector’s Items!!!

The last pair of Suede Sandals shipped out the door this week–and it was a Sequoia Suede. I think the aesthetics of the Sequoia were awesome…but one of its neat attributes, for me anyway, is that the name “Sequoia” has all 5 vowels.

OESH Suede Sandal SequoiaEqualPorky Pig-That's all Folks!





The wordsmith stuff is neither here nor there of course, but what IS HERE–almost, anyway–is going to be the Lollapalooza of Sandals. Our engineering and design efforts have been geared, nearly non-stop for more than 2 years, in perfecting a spectacular confluence of health and manufacturing. So stay tuned! In the meanwhile, we bid adieu to the Original OESH Sandal design, now joining the 5-cantilever Lizards & Classics as sturdy footwear that we love, but have now made even better. And you’ll see what we mean…very, very soon.


Shoegate: We still have work to do

Photo via Pressherald.com

Photo via Pressherald.com

A controversy surrounding high heel shoes has made its way into the media yet again.  Deemed “Shoegate” by some, multiple women were recently denied entry to a movie premier at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival for wearing flats. Though actors and actresses alike have made comments at the unjust nature of this incident, it has largely been through the lens of inequality. Furthermore, the media seems to largely be scrutinizing the dress code, and in this particular case, a dress code which is spelled out through tradition and not text. What has seemingly been lacking in the post “Shoegate” discussion goes beyond fashion and concerns our health.

A blog post by Dr. Kerrigan from nearly 2 years ago entitled “Why Heels Are Bad” rings particular relevance today amidst the Cannes shoe controversy. In this post, with links to her previous research and our own OESH investigations, Dr. Kerrigan lays out the relationship of high heel shoes as a factor in the progression of knee osteoarthritis. Moreover, the post introduces the struggle in getting people (especially shoe companies) to address this issue of elevated heels and health. As with many factors which adversely affect our health, it is hard to change the way in which the topic is discussed on a large scale. In the above mentioned post by Dr. Kerrigan, she shares what a seasoned reporter once told her, “Your research is very much like the first research showing the ill-effects of cigarettes in rats. Cigarette companies got away with ignoring it for over a generation on the basis that the research was inconclusive. Eventually enough smart people argued that ALL research studies are inconclusive.”

The Controversy at Cannes has ignited a discussion about high heels, and though this is certainly a good thing, the way in which the conversation is going is a reminder that our health is not the primary concern and that there remains a long ways to go in changing the discourse. These current events surrounding the appropriateness of flats in a formal setting does nothing more than beg the question; at what point does our health trump tradition?

We reprint here what syndicated columnist, and OESHer, Ellen Goodman, wrote, in covering one of Dr. Kerrigan’s research articles. Fourteen years later, her words remain all very true.



Happy Mother’s Day

My mom, Edna Lorraine Kerrigan, with Rusty (who I never met but heard epic stories about), 1958.

Last night I dreamt my mom was at our front door, smiling. It’s not unusual that I dream of my mom, who passed away last year. What was unusual about the dream was that she was at the front door. She would have come in through any other door in the house; not the front door. Perhaps she thought that this particular visit was unexpected.

This is the first year that I almost forgot about Mother’s Day. Ever since I can remember, I would begin thinking about what I’d get my mom for Mother’s Day back on Saint Patrick’s Day, my mom’s birthday. But this year, I didn’t give Mother’s Day much if any thought and in fact, didn’t even know when it was going to occur, until yesterday.

Contributing to my lack of memory is the fact that it hardly seems like it’s been a full year since I wrote my last year’s “Happy Mother’s Day” post. It’s been a busy year at OESH and we’ve been working hard on a new project that we hope to launch and talk about soon; a project that I know my mom would be especially proud of, but which I never had a chance to tell her about. Except for in my dreams.

Here is what I wrote:

“Unconditional love,” my mom used to say, “is the most important thing a mother can give to her child.”

That she gave and more and taught me to give the same to my own daughters. She was successful in making me strong and independent and to never feel like I couldn’t do something just because I was a girl.

I could talk to my mom about anything. And well after I achieved adulthood, I still relied upon her for advice. Should I be a doctor? What kind of a doctor? Should I leave academic medicine to build a shoe factory? Although super smart in ways that I am not (she was a brilliant school teacher and had an amazing understanding of the English language), my mother did not have much scientific experience, other than being married to my scientific genius father and typing his Chemistry PhD thesis. Nonetheless, she so very clearly understood my research and would often help me articulate its impact.

I remember my mom being much dismayed by the poor footwear choices for women. She would tell me about her own mother being physically disabled from wearing high-heeled shoes. And when I was five-years old, and my grandmother, who lived in New York, came to visit us in San Diego, I was struck with the fact that it was painful for her to walk. 

Years later, when I discovered the biomechanical link between high-heeled shoes and knee osteoarthritis, I could hardly wait to come home to tell my mom about it. By that time, she was living with us, caring for our first daughter, Jayme, while I worked. My mom must have read to her nearly every minute of the day. She continued to live with us and did the same with our second and third daughters, Kellyn and Zoe. In so doing, my mom successfully passed on her love for books to our daughters.

My mom was always well ahead of her times and, all along, the sweetest person you could ever meet. She passed away seventy-two days ago on February 28, 2014, shortly after Jayme was accepted to Oxford to “read” English, and seventeen days before what would have been her 91st birthday. One of our dear friends said to me, “I know this time of reflection must be hard. A mother’s bond is the most elemental bond.” Indeed it is hard. Even though my mother had fairly severe dementia (such that we no longer could enjoy the conversations we used to have) for several years, she always knew who I was. And although she had difficulty recognizing objects, she always lit up when I showed her my latest OESH design. I loved giving her the very first pair of any new style we made just as much as she loved wearing them. 

Happy Mother’s Day Mom. Mother’s Day or not, I love you always and forever.

OESH & Architecture

Hello extended OESH family! My name is Sarah and I am the newest member of OESH. This past December I graduated with a Masters in Architecture from the University of Virginia and have been with OESH since. I’ve always been interested in making, and in the years between undergraduate (BS in Architecture, University of Illinois) and graduate school, I worked as a carpenter. While at UVA, I was able to explore 3-D printing as a new form of making and it was this interest that led me to OESH. Part of what I’ve been responsible with here is assisting a collaboration between OESH and the School of Architecture. In the post below you will understand more about the logical relationship between designing buildings and designing shoes!

OESH Collaboration Photo 2Over the past few months the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia has been collaborating with Dr. Kerrigan and the OESH team on an exciting design challenge. The challenge has been part of a class taught by Melissa Goldman, the architecture school’s fabrication facilities manager. Working with the guidance and expertise of Dr. Kerrigan, the task for the students was simple: design a shoe. This wasn’t to be just any shoe, but one which could be worn, provide the magic compliance that only OESH Shoes give, and actually be fabricated.

To back up a moment, one may ask, “why collaborate with students of architecture for such a project?” Not only are architecture students great designers, but the design process of architecture is actually quite similar to that of shoes. Both architecture and shoes require a keen understanding and awareness of how materials go together. In architecture school, students commonly think at the scale of the joint; for example, how a beam and column may meet. At OESH, we equally consider the joint, though for us it’s at a physically smaller scale. Here, the challenge for the students was to understand the joints which exist in the shoe such as the connection between the sole and body of the shoe and between the fabric and structure of the shoe.

In addition to Dr. Kerrigan’s knowledge of biomechanics and shoe design, OESH provided another important element for the students and their project. OESH has been actively researching and fabricating specialized 3-D printers as part of our production process. Through the unique design of our printers, the students were able to prototype their designs in a way which they could not do using standard 3-D printers such as those that are available at the architecture school. Our printers allowed the students to experiment with flexible materials and encouraged material research as part of their design process.

The design challenge has taken place over the length of the semester and has included several phases. It began at the OESH factory with the entire class gathered for a lecture by Dr. Kerrigan. Here, they were introduced to key points about biomechanics and issues to keep in mind while designing. The challenge started with thinking about the sole of the shoe and how its form relates to its function. The students were then divided into 4 teams. Each team, using their new knowledge from Dr. Kerrigan, paired with their knowledge and curiosities of 3-D printing, designed and printed a wearable shoe. This early phase also allowed the students to conduct testing with materials and material combinations for printing. Basically, our factory was their playground for a few class periods! [Highlights of this phase can be seen in this previously posted video]. The second half of the course brought back a smaller and focused group of students. This group, though they are currently wrapping up their final designs, were able to go deeper into their schemes and the design of critical joints and connections within a shoe.

As researchers and fabricators, it has been wonderful to impart our knowledge upon an eager group of students. In return, their curiosity and questions have prompted us to pause and think as we continue with our own designs and fabrication processes.

Many thanks to Melissa Goldman and her class, “The World is Flat, the 3-D Printer Edition.”

OESH is Inventor Connections “Innovator of the Month” and More Lacrosse

In recognition of “pushing the boundaries of design and innovating in the industry,” I’m featured today in an article in Inventor Connections entitled “Fusion 360 Enables OESH to Take a Fresh Approach to Shoe Design.”

Cool beans.

To access it, you need to register to become a member of InventorConnections.com here. However, if you are not into all things CAD (computer aided-design), know that it’s a nicely written article describing in detail what you already know by simply putting on a pair of OESH.

Here’s a screenshot of the intro:

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Now, on an unrelated note but in follow up to Bob’s last post on our oldest, Jayme, winning the Oxford vs. Cambridge Varsity Lacrosse Match, here’s a picture of Kellyn (our second oldest), firing a shot into the goal in last week’s Charlottesville High School vs. Culpeper High School game. In her beloved Deep Wisterias.


And here’s another shot from today, of Kellyn and Jayme (who’s home for Spring Break) taking a lacrosse practice break with Marcia.


Their La Vidas are more than a year old and as much as I’d like to wash them, I appreciate that the dirt, which was not one of my intended design features, could be good luck.

Oxford vs Cambridge–the 99th Annual Lacrosse Varsity

Through the prism of the 21st century, the idea of an annual sporting contest as the culmination of a team’s hard work, sweat, and camaraderie has a purity that holds up well over many years. 15Y 99th Varsity-11In a two-day cricket match 188 years ago, Oxford and Cambridge established this tradition and cemented the Varsity concept with an annual boat race in 1829 (when the Blues became Oxford and Cambridge the light Blues). In fact, lacrosse is also played very well throughout the UK, and has had its Annual Varsity every year since the inaugural 1903 match, only breaking for the two World Wars.

The two women’s, two men’s, and the mixed lacrosse teams thus compete for the Varsity trophy (with draws going to the side of the previous year’s winner), this year’s match hosted on the beautiful playing fields of St John’s College, Cambridge.

with many thanks to Emily Harrap Photography for the splendid images!

with many thanks to Emily Harrap Photography for the splendid images

Oxford won at Varsity last year, hence with a men’s draw and victory, a women’s and mixed loss, the 99th Annual Lacrosse Varsity came down to the other women’s match, in which our favorite OESH summer intern and erstwhile Fresher at Oxford, Jayme Kusyk (#2 on the far left, above), was going to be a participant.

Given that the Cambridge team had played its 10 game regular season in dominant form, going undefeated and bashing Oxford twice in the process, the match was seemingly doomed for Oxford when the Blues called their last timeout, trailing by 5 goals with the last grains of sand nearly dumped into the bottom of the hourglass.


The Oxford student newspaper, the Cherwell, also reported: in what was one of the most nail-biting matches ever experienced by most of the players and many of the spectators…At 7-2 down with 20 minutes to go, the Swifts called a time out and co-captains Sophie Poston and Rachel Wright gave the team talk of their lacrosse careers. In an incredible show of grit and determination, Oxford took control of the remaining third of the match and completely reversed the momentum of the game.

This magnificent shot helped. We asked Jayme afterward if she remembered launching it and she said “yep, that was the only place I saw it could go, right between the goalie’s legs”. The score made it 7-5. One of our favorite family metaphors is that “life is a great reflection of lacrosse”, and when the momentum…in life, a game, whatever… begins to roll your way, GO FOR IT! The caption (repeated in the photo below from the OULC Facebook page), says it all.

The beginning of the end

                                                                                               The beginning of the end

Then wrote Helen Record of the Cherwell: With 30 seconds to go and the score even at 7-7, Oxford transitioned the ball straight to attack from the centre draw and in a moment that she, nor anyone else watching, shall not forget easily, Jayme Kusyk scored her fifth goal of the match and sealed Oxford’s victory.

15Y 99th Varsity-10Equal15Y 99th Varsity-12





We also pried the info from Jayme that she was indeed named Player Of The Match, and gets to cart around a trophy for the rest of her life. We told her that should make for a splendid goblet suitable for all occasions when drinking is required, such as tonight when we pick her up at the airport and bring her home to celebrate stateside.


JKK--Player Of The Match, Lacrosse Varsity #99

             JKK–Player Of The Match, Lacrosse Varsity #99

OESH Goes to the National Science Foundation

We’re in Arlington, Virginia, presenting to the National Science Foundation who recently funded our work to track gait parameters inside of shoes.  Below is our presenting team; Bill Hill, Brad Bennett, and me.IMG_0364

Our first Power Point slide was that of our research team (or at least a portion of our team) in the OESH Factory. Left to right: Jackey Gong, Shannon Wheeler, me, Brad Bennett, Shawn Russell and John Lach.

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As is typical, everyone is wowed — with our science and with OESH. I’ve been alternating between wearing my Saguaro’s and the Rococco’s. Like at many of these events, I often find myself without shoes because someone asks if I can take them off to show them and before I know it, my La Vidas are being passed around the room. In the past, I’d bring an extra pair of OESH – one to wear and one to show. But I’ve learned that by only sharing the OESH that I’m wearing, I have a much better chance of getting them back.

People LOVE our OESH! As well as the science behind it.

And we love the National Science Foundation!

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My Two-Minute Yoga Routine


As we age, we lose a certain amount of hip extension range during walking. By hip extension range, I mean the amount that our hip extends backward during walking. That may not sound too surprising. Don’t we lose, as we get older, a certain amount of range in ALL of our joints during walking?

Well, actually, no.

Through a series of gait laboratory studies (see below) we found, surprisingly, that only hip extension range during walking decreases with aging. When elderly subjects are asked to walk at a faster than normal speed, their joint range of motion matches or exceeds that of a young adult subject for every lower extremity joint in every direction. Except for the hip joint, in extension. We found peak hip extension to be on average 10 degrees less in an elderly subject (age 65-85) compared to a young adult subject (age 20-40).

Simultaneous with this age related reduction in hip extension, we find not only a shortened stride, but an increase in pelvic or low back motion. Presumably, the concurrent age-related increase in pelvic / low back motion is a compensation for the reduced hip extension range.

Walking and running are the only regular activities we do in a day that can stretch the hip into full extension. Standing or lying down, for example, require that the hip only gets to a neutral position. Only during walking or running, can the hip be stretched into full extension. Being bedridden or sedentary results in a loss in hip extension flexibility.

Gait form and footwear can affect hip extension range during walking. A gait that allows the trailing limb to fully extend before weight is borne on the lead foot provides maximum hip extension.

Outside of walking and running, there aren’t a lot of ways you can actively stretch your hip into extension. This led us to researching and studying specific exercise stretches that DO stretch the hip into extension. We found that most Western exercise regimens do not include stretching the hip into extension. On the other hand, we found that every form of Yoga we investigated, included at least one stretch that stretched the hip into full extension.

The next question was, could a two-minute stretch to the hip flexors reverse our age-related changes in gait? To answer this, we studied the isolated effect of stretching the hip into extension and in fact did find a modest improvement in age-related changes in gait.

Ways to stretch the hip into extension (besides regularly walking) include the Sun Salutation and Warrior Pose. Different yogis might call the pose I am doing above different things but you can see how my trailing hip is fully extended beyond neutral.

What I do is take a step forward and extend my trailing leg back as shown, with the knee extended and my weight slightly forward, and I slowly lift my arms up overhead. Then I hold it there for 20 seconds. I do the same thing on the other side and then repeat. You should only do it after you’re warmed up, after a hot shower or a workout (and of course there’s no need to do it if your workout IS Yoga). I usually do the stretch / pose after I run. All in all, it takes less than 2 minutes.

Research Studies:

Kerrigan DC, Todd MK, Della Croce, Lipsitz LA, Collins JJ. Biomechanical gait alterations independent of speed in the healthy elderly: evidence for specific limiting impairments. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 1998;79:317-22.

Kerrigan DC, Lee LW, Collins JJ, Riley PO, Lipsitz LA. Reduced hip extension during walking in healthy elderly and fallers versus young adults. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2001;82:26-30.

Kerrigan DC, Xenopoulos-Oddsson A, Sullivan MJ, Lelas JL, Riley PO. Effect of a hip flexor-stretching program on gait in the elderly. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2003;84:1-6.

Laughton CA, Slavin M, Katdare K, Nolan L, Bean JF, Kerrigan DC, Phillips E, Lipsitz LA, Collins JJ. Aging, muscle activity, and balance control: physiologic changes associated with balance impairment. Gait and Posture 2003;18:101-108.

DiBenedetto M, Innes KE, Rodeheaver PF, Taylor AG, Boxer JA, Wright HJ, Kerrigan DC. Effect of a gentle Iyengar yoga program on gait in the elderly: an exploratory study. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2005;86:1830-1837.

Lee LW, Evans J, Zavarei K, Lelas JL, Riley PO, Kerrigan DC. Reduced hip extension in the elderly: dynamic or postural? Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2005;86:1851-1854.

Franz JR, Paylo KW, Dicharry J, Riley PO, Kerrigan DC. Changes in the coordination of hip and pelvis kinematics with mode of locomotion. Gait and Posture 2009;29(3):494-498.

Riley PO, Franz J, Dicharry J, Kerrigan DC. Changes in hip joint muscle-tendon lengths with mode of locomotion. Gait and Posture 2010;31(2):279-283.

Watt JR, Jackson K, Franz JR, Dicharry J, Evans J, Kerrigan DC. Effect of a supervised hip flexor stretching program on gait in elderly individuals. PM&R 2011;3(4) 324-329.

Watt JR,Jackson K, Franz JR, Dicharry J. Evans J, Kerrigan DC. Effect of a supervised hip flexor stretching program on gait in frail elderly patients. PM&R 2011;3(4):330-335.