Some traditions are especially beautiful and MUST be continued, so 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!
This photo of Underdog is from the Macy’s Parade the first year we actually saw it, in 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 30 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 required cantilevers, though. Although now it’s clear as a bell that Olive would be PSYCHED to wear a pair of La Vida v2.0–and I’d say she’s a natural for the Charcoal color.
Abraham Lincoln made today’s date a touchstone when, on a bleak Pennsylvania afternoon, he dedicated his epic speech to those who “consecrated” the battlefield by giving the ultimate sacrifice to the country, then a mere 87 years old. The Gettysburg Address, delivered on November 19, 1863, galvanized the focal point of America’s founding documents to the ideal that in the Republican form of government, all are created equal. No words before or since those beginning “Four score and seven years ago…” have captured the essence of what makes America great and the model for a truly humane self-administered community–with that lofty ideal of equality always the goal.
This is the famous Bachrach photo from that day. Ironically, Lincoln is without the trademark stovepipe hat in this, the only confirmed photograph of him (the President is facing us and directly below the dude in the hat near the leafless branch in the top row) at the Gettysburg service.
In analyzing what made Lincoln such an effective speechwriter, I think it’s apparent that he was a master of political science and equally apparent that the fuel for same was his dedication to listening to as wide a swath of citizens as possible. He was famous for opening his office to everyone patient enough to wait in line and speak with him. But being unafraid to act upon his wealth of primary information made him a genius.
Those 272 words, the same as in today’s post, are forever inspirational: “It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.”
A November trip to Washington D.C. inspires one to, well, look out and up. Especially when walking on the National Mall and visiting the Smithsonian. Ironically, this most-American of all public institutions (it’s now grown to 19 museums and galleries plus the National Zoo), was seeded by a gift of the estate of British scientist James Smithson. And it wasn’t just any seed–at the time of Smithson’s 1829 passing it was 1/66th of the entire federal budget! Shows you what 100,000 gold sovereigns can do.
And in that spirit of looking up, nothing compares to the centerpiece Air and Space Museum on the National Mall. I always orient myself when I walk in that building by identifying the Ryan NYP (New York-Paris), aka the Spirit of St. Louis, hanging from the rafters. Then I’ll invariably look down and see, in no particular order, the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo spacecrafts. Then I’ll be thirsty for a glass of Tang. I mean, it’s like clockwork.
At the instant of this post, and with the greatest honor, it is indeed the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Veterans Day always gives me the chills. It’s because, of course, the famous tagline of the Armistice (The War To End All Wars) took only two decades to become obsolete. But when you get a chance to soak in the science, the advancements, and the notion that literally even the sky isn’t the limit, you see a larger beauty in the message delivered by the Air and Space. It’s surely hopeful–and remains captivating to every new generation in a way unique to each of us. Whereas it’s Tang for me, Zoe thought the idea of a WWI pilot needing a sword was the coolest thing she’d ever seen.
Congratulations OESHers, you now wear every single pair of Licorice Suede Sandals, the first of our 4 beautiful Suede styles to Sell Out!
We know…there is a distinct demand for all-BLACK OESH product…with only the Panther Athletic Sandals currently available. BUT…don’t turn the dial…we’ll have an announcement very soon (as long as you are on the priority email list!) to rectify the black situation…in time for the Holiday Season, too!
As for a hint of the product announcement, Viva La Vida!
Any time I have to tinker with one of these cool guys in the factory I can’t help but sing a few lines from Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Because they’re called Chillers. And hence why I also call them the cool guys. (I know, we factory girls need to get out more). Specifically, what they do is chill fluid down to a certain temperature.
The one on the left chills water down to 50 degrees Fahrenheit before it’s sent to the CNC waterjet saw. The waterjet saw requires that the water being pumped into the high pressure nozzle is cold. If the water weren’t cold, it would melt all the insides of the waterjet saw, which, according to technical support, wouldn’t be good. So we use Mr. Chiller Number One every time we power up the waterjet.
The one on the right chills an oily-watery mix (made from natural, bio-based ingredients, that we could drink, but haven’t yet tried) down to 56 degrees before it’s sent to the injection molding machine where it keeps the hydraulic motors cooled and lubed before returning to the Lowes bucket back into the chiller (sorry, Bernie, the Home Depot is still not close enough that we can buy a Home Depot bucket instead). The same chilled mixture is also used to help maintain our sole molds at a constant temperature. Otherwise, the molds would heat up unevenly and our soles wouldn’t be absolutely perfect, which, according to me, wouldn’t be good. So we use Mr. Chiller Number Two every time we power up the injection molding machine.
Of course before building the factory I had no idea what a chiller was. Now, like all our other factory-accessory-necessities, I can’t imagine OESH life without them.
“Cause this is chiller, thriller night. Girl I can chill you more than any ghoul would ever dare try. Chiller, thriller…”
So here’s a cool thing I’ve learned working at OESH. Shoes are designed and constructed from a “last” which is the standard form of the foot, differing slightly depending on the specific type of footwear a company creates. One component of the non-OESH shoe last, no matter the shoe style, is a medial to lateral (or side to side) curvature called the “crown.” Shown below are two different lasts turned upside down to reveal their bottoms. As you can see, a traditional women’s athletic shoe last (left) has a crown or slight medial to lateral curvature unlike our OESH last (right) which has no crown and a perfectly flat bottom.
The result of this curvature is not immediately obvious when looking at actual shoes unless you dissect the shoe, so of course I could not pass up another opportunity for “dissecting shoes” after doing this task once already for a previous blog (Most Running Shoes Are Actually High-Heeled!)
This time I used the CNC Waterjet saw to cut the shoes horizontally to see the result of this “crown.” As seen in the picture below, a traditional athletic shoe (left) has a “cradle” while the OESH La Vida (right) is completely flat.
So I know you are asking yourself, why do (non-OESH) shoes have crowns in their lasts resulting in cradles inside the shoes? Well, it dates back a long time ago when it was thought inelegant for the stitching to show where the upper of the shoe was attached to the sole. Therefore, shoemakers provided this curvature which offered room to hide the stitching and excess material. Jump forward to present day with all of the sophisticated machinery that is used to manufacture shoes, and the same justification does not apply. In fact, here at the OESH factory we go an extra step, utilizing a unique proprietary method for integrating the upper with the sole that eliminates entirely any cradle that would otherwise result from excess fabric and stitching. The result is that OESH is the first and only women’s shoe that is truly flat in all directions, providing our popular “Level Playing Field.”
Despite advanced methods for shoe manufacturing that are available today, the ingrained tradition of having a crown in shoe lasts persists such that most all (non-OESH) shoes, but especially women’s shoes, even if they’re marketed as “athletic” or “healthy”, have this medial to lateral curve. Most people in the shoe industry hardly even know why the crown is still there. Some will argue, with no scientific data to back it up, mind you, that the resultant cradling inside a shoe is needed to “support” the foot. And that women somehow need more of this “support.” Others will say that cradling the foot makes the shoe, athletic or otherwise, look more fashionable. Hmmm…really?
Well, here’s yet another example of how OESH successfully broke down tradition and hearsay with science.
When your foot is placed inside a typical (non-OESH) shoe, the cradle presses the foot inwards, changing where you place your bodyweight. Instead of equal distribution of forces and weight, the foot is being bunched and the pressures are being focused in the center of your forefoot which can become painful and over time lead to things like metatarsalgia or Morton’s Neuroma. Many people think that just high heels cause these problems but here you can see how the typical women’s athletic shoe also is problematic.
Not only does the cradling compromise your foot, the cradling also affects forces going up from the foot, artificially altering your center of balance and causing higher torques and pressures in your joints above the foot. This can be demonstrated in a biomechanical laboratory with 3-D motion cameras and force plate measuring devices.
The medial to lateral curvature – or cradle – is shown below as the red line in a traditional athletic shoe (left). When the foot is placed inside, the foot will lie along the red curve, causing a shift of pressures toward the mid forefoot. In contrast, the OESH La Vida (right) has a completely flat sole as shown by the red line. This is beneficial as when your foot is placed inside, your weight and forces are equal across the width of the forefoot.
Here at OESH we design our shoes on science, which when you think about it, is really just common sense. Rather than cramming your foot into an unnatural position that has ill-effects not just on your foot but on the rest of the body, OESH accommodates the modern woman’s foot…and body.
There you have it. Shoe Anatomy 101 and Reason 101 why OESH La Vida are the healthiest shoe choice for women.
Fifteen years ago, there was no youtube. But there was Barbara Walters, Hugh Downs and the rest of the ABC team who covered my first breakthrough research paper on the effect of high heels on the knees – all of which triggered the success of OESH.
A few things to note on this re-released (onto youtube) ABC 20/20 segment:
(1) I had just given birth to Kellyn and had to take numerous breaks during the filming to go pump breast milk.
(2) I had to wear tons of makeup and get a manicure. Note my nice glossy fingernail demonstrating the knee joint torques.
(3) Subsequent research by me and others showed that not just high-heels but virtually ALL non-OESH women’s shoes, whether for dress, comfort, or running, abnormally increase joint torques and pressures related to knee osteoarthritis.
Here’s a true story I tell new friends after about our fifth dinner together. Except for one small footnote, it has nothing to do with OESH.
Back in the early-mid ‘80’s, every other weekend, I used to take the Amtrak train from Boston where I was in medical school, down to Manhattan where Bob worked.
The train took 4 ½ hours and I’d look forward to using all of that time to study. As the train was never full, I’d hope that no one would sit next to me. A little anti-social, yes, I know. But I was one serious student. What I’d do is lay out all my books, with the most disgusting pictures from my anatomy book showing. That, along with the fact that I often smelled of formaldehyde, was very effective in keeping everyone away.
But this one time, some middle-aged, slightly overweight, happy-go-lucky guy wearing what I will always remember as the picture definition of a “cheap suit,” asked if he could sit next to me. Before I could think of anything else disgusting I could do to discourage him, he planted himself right into the seat next to me.
“So, what are you studying? Can I buy you a drink?”
He introduced himself as an insurance salesman. Of course! That went right along with the Far-Side-comic-image of the loser guy trying to pick you up. In the same breath, he also told me that if all goes well, he wouldn’t be an insurance salesman much longer.
He told me he was writing a book that was going to be b-i-g. He described this complicated plot that I had a hard time following. It had something to do with spies, the Russians, and a submarine. He said that it was true. Apparently, a friend of his who worked for this special secret service for the government* had told him a lot of things that he wasn’t supposed to. And my new train guy friend decided to write a book about it.
He handed me a stack of pages and said, “See, here it is! Read it! Let me buy you another drink.”
I started reading it. Oh my gosh, I thought. This is bad – there is no way this will ever be a book. I felt sorry for the poor guy. There were so many typographical errors and it was written in such poor English, that I couldn’t help but edit it. For the rest of the trip I obsessed myself with marking it up with a pen every which way. I just wanted to help him. All the way to somewhere in Connecticut where he got off the train, I edited away while he talked and talked.
When Bob picked me up at Penn station, he asked if I got a lot of work done. I told him no, that this loser insurance salesman guy had sat next to me most of the way and that he was writing this loser book that I felt inclined to edit.
So, as it turns out, this “loser” guy’s name was Tom Clancy. And the “loser” book that he showed me was none other than the “Hunt for Red October.” About a year later, when I saw the advertisements for the book plastered all over our local bookstore, my jaw, just like in a Far Side comic, dropped.
I never read the final book (I wonder if my edits ever made it) but I did see the movie, along with most his other movies. They were all awesome!
I always thought that one day I should write him even though I don’t think he’d remember, or want to remember that (somewhat stinky) medical student he tried to pick up. I struggled with what I might say to him. “Congratulations. I just want to apologize for thinking that you were a loser?” I kind of doubt, with all his fame and fortune, that he’d really care what I thought.
But now I regret that I never did write him.
I just learned that he passed away the night before last, interestingly, in the month of October…barely. He was only 66. Which means he was only about 36 when I met him. How in the world could I have thought he was “middle-aged”? I now consider 70 to be “middle aged.” And he never got to be that.
Clearly, I was the loser for not recognizing him as the winner he was. I should have picked up on the fact that he was just super happy. And super excited to tell not just me but the whole world a very thrilling story.
Tom, you’re awesome! Rest in peace.
*Ironically, years later, I learned what that secret service was when it was interested in OESH, before it was OESH – that’s another story…
Adam, our first male OESH Ambassador, and former OESH intern, just sent us this photo of him jumping over fire near the finish of the Spartan Race held in New Jersey earlier this month. Never mind that Reebok sponsors the race…Adam proudly wore his OESH La Vidas and EVERYBODY was asking him about them.
OESH La Vidas can take the heat.
Adam is a third year at Princeton University, majoring in mechanical engineering. He grew up near the OESH factory and went to Charlottesville High School, where, in addition to excelling academically, was the star of the cross-country team. He still runs but his main athletic commitment now is for the Princeton Crew team, which during its off-season, entered this Spartan race and took 4th overall – not bad!
As an intern in the summer of 2012, Adam built a foundry for OESH. Yes, a real, honest to goodness, red-hot foundry, that we use to melt down aluminum cans, construction waste, old lacrosse sticks, and anything else laying around our dumpster, into cast blocks, that we use to make tools and shoe-form mold bases. Any waste from our factory, including testing and prototype pieces go back into the foundry to make more useful things. If all goes well, the work Adam did in building and refining the foundry will become his honors thesis at Princeton.
While Adam is famous around Charlottesville and Princeton for his foundry, he’s also famous for what he wears and doesn’t wear on his feet. Up through high school he was mostly barefoot. In 2012, he wore OESH Athletic Sandals as he helped design and make them (hence the name of one of the models, “Tigers” as in the “Princeton Tigers.”) But since this summer he’s been pretty much living 24/7 in his new OESH La Vidas.
This is what Adam had to say about the race:
“It was at a ski resort and the race course was eight miles straight up and down the ski slopes and through various constructed obstacles. I wore my La Vidas, of course, and they performed admirably—super light (even soaked with mud and water) with good traction on some very adverse surfaces. Princeton Crew was the fourth team overall, and I placed 78th of 5429. Unlike last year’s marathon sans OESH, the next day I was tired but not very sore, and the arches of my feet were fine (as opposed to destroyed). Very grateful for that.”
“Also, they never came untied during all of that abuse, and they cleaned up beautifully— all the mud came off in one wash cycle!”
Well there you go. We at OESH are proud to have Adam represent us, all the while, being his awesome self.
It’s likely you’ve heard that high-heeled shoes are bad for your knees. But what you probably don’t know, is that most all non-OESH shoes out there, whether they’re advertised as athletic, comfort, supportive, cushioned, or simply “healthy,” similarly place abnormally increased stresses on your knees.
I know this, not so much because I’m a medical doctor (although I am), but because of all the research I’ve done on the biomechanical effects of different types of shoes and shoe features.
The reason you’ve probably heard that high-heeled shoes are bad for your knees is because of a well-known research study I did back in 1998. Using a sophisticated 3-D motion and force measurement system, I discovered that stiletto high-heeled shoes abnormally increase knee joint torques by 23% compared to barefoot. Joint torques are the measurements used to determine the stresses about a joint, including joint or “bone on bone” pressures. A certain amount of knee joint torque is expected and normal whenever we walk, run, or just stand. However, abnormally increased knee joint torques and stresses are associated with the development and progression of knee osteoarthritis.
My 1998 study was broadcast on all the major news outlets around the world and was the subject of an ABC 20/20 segment which you can see here:
Subsequently, in 2001 and 2005 , I found that not just stiletto’s, but also wide-based heels and so-called “sensible” women’s dress or “comfort” shoes with only moderately elevated heels, also substantially increase knee joint torques by 26% and 19% respectively. These studies were also broadcast worldwide and it’s now common knowledge that elevated heels cause abnormally increased joint torques and stresses related to the development and progression of knee osteoarthritis.
Describing for ABC’s 20/20 the effect of shoes on knee joint torques.
With the support of the National Institutes of Health, I continued to study the effects of virtually all types of footwear and footwear modifications on joint torques. Essentially, I found that ALL traditional types of footwear, be it dress, comfort or athletic, abnormally increase knee joint torques. By this time, other medical research groups besides mine were publishing the effects of footwear on knee joint torques. A group in Australia published that when subjects with knee osteoarthritis walked in their self-selected everyday shoes, their knee joint torques were significantly increased by approximately 7% compared to walking barefoot. Another group at Rush University showed that Dansko clogs and highly supportive athletic shoes each increase knee joint torques by approximately 15%.
Abnormally increase stresses on your knees. (All major brands, not just Danskos.)
Then in 2009, I published that the typical (non-OESH) running shoe increases these same knee joint torques by a whopping 38% during running compared to barefoot. (I also found that the typical running shoe also unnecessarily increases torques at the hip and ankle.)
Abnormally increase stresses on your knees. (All major brands, not just Brooks.)
That paper became a major point of contention between barefoot running advocates and the multi-billion dollar shoe industry who would have preferred that I never published that study. For years, athletic, comfort, and “healthy” shoe companies have been making shoes with elevated cushioned heels. And for years they promoted the idea that cushioning the heel cushions the knees and other joints in the body. However, that idea was never based on any scientific data and moreover had never been tested in a laboratory.
Meanwhile, I always thought that shoes could be properly designed so as to minimize joint torques and stresses in the lower extremity. I believe the reasons for traditional shoes actually increasing knee joint torques are multiple, although the height of the heel, whether it’s cushioned or not, is certainly a key factor. At the same time, I believe there are certain innovative features that can be integrated into a shoe that can specifically reduce knee and other lower extremity joint torques.
Knee osteoarthritis is very common. It causes more disability with respect to mobility than any other singular disease in the elderly. And in fact, as we age, we all get some signs of osteoarthritic changes that can be seen on an X-ray. But we women suffer from it nearly twice as often as men and undergo nearly twice as many knee replacements. I believe the difference in shoes we wear explain a lot of this gender difference. Your dress shoes and “comfort” shoes have substantial heels on them – more so than a typical men’s dress shoe – even if you don’t think of them as “high heels.” Then you put on your running shoes, which still have (hidden) high heels and other “support” type features that are typically exaggerated in women’s athletic and comfort shoes, which further increase knee joint torques. Meaning, that all day long, your knees are placed under abnormally increased stress.
A seasoned reporter once told me, “Your research on shoes is very much like the first research that was done on cigarettes. Because of the number of risk factors for knee osteoarthritis that are difficult if not impossible to control for, shoe companies will say for a very long time that there is no definitive proof that their footwear contributes to knee osteoarthritis.” Indeed, risk factors for knee osteoarthritis include obesity, genetic predisposition, previous trauma, and occupations that place repetitive stresses to the knee. Given that, it will be very difficult if not impossible to definitively prove that different types of footwear contribute to knee osteoarthritis. Which means, it will be a very long time before shoe companies ever feel pressure to design and make shoes differently.
All this, of course, fed into a growing passion to make OESH. The OESH La Vida design, which is based on all that I know, has unique features that effectively minimize lower extremity joint torques and stresses, including those at the knee. The OESH Sole is uniquely designed and manufactured so as not to cushion impact but rather respond to your body weight when your joint torques reach their maximum. Being perfectly flat in all directions, with a patented and proprietary fiber composite structure, the sole responds when and only when responsiveness is appropriate.
OESH La Vida Sole.
After many years of research and development, I am proud to say that OESH will never abnormally increase your knee (or other joint) torques. Which also means, that compared to other shoes, they will reduce the stresses to your knees…with each and every step.
OESH do not increase stresses on your knees.
1. Kerrigan DC, Todd MK, Riley PO. Knee osteoarthritis and high-heeled shoes. The Lancet 1998;351:1399-1402.
2. Kerrigan DC, Lelas JL, Karvosky ME. Women’s shoes and knee osteoarthritis. The Lancet 2001;357:1097-1098.
3. Kerrigan DC, Lelas JL, Bryant M, Boxer J, Della Croce U, Riley PO. Moderate heeled shoes and knee joint torques relevant to the development and progression of knee osteoarthritis. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2005;86:871-875.
4. Kerrigan DC, Franz JR, Keenan GS, Dicharry J, Della Croce U, Wilder RP. The effect of running shoes on lower extremity joint torques. PM&R 2009;1:1058-1063.