Runner’s World reviews OESH…”they’re crazy comfortable”

Lisa Jhung of Boulder, Colorado writes a crisp and pithy blog for Runner’s World entitled SHOES & GEAR. If you enjoy an on-point and candid analysis of footwear, Lisa’s blog is the one you should read. Given her years of experience as a respected analyst, her thoughts carry great influence–she doesn’t beat around the bush and she lets you know what she thinks.

We feel as though she nailed it again, as RUNNER’S WORLD LOVES OESH!

Lisa’s post follows below:

Introducing: OESH

December 1, 2011 4:32 pm

Last December, Dr. Casey Kerrigan introduced OESH footwear—which feature a Zero drop, like many shoes we’ve talked about lately, and carbon fiber cantilevers in lieu of a traditional foam midsole—out of a factory in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“Traditional running shoes are on the left,” says Kerrigan, “barefoot is in the middle, and OESH is on the right.” Kerrigan comes from a background of physical medicine and rehabilitation. She attended Harvard Medical School where she earned her degree in kinesiology. She’s a professor in mechanical engineering at UVA, and has 20 years of research studying walking and running gait and biomechanics.

OESH shoes, which look more like walking or nursing shoes than running shoes and are intended to be worn as “All-day Shoes”— with that day including running, or other activities — have been sold primarily online, and out of the factory a few hours a day, three days a week. “That’s been really fun,” says Kerrigan. “It kind of turns into my office hours, talking to people about injuries and seeing people talk to each other.”

I was skeptical when I received my sample pair. I thought I’d wear them a few times, write about them, and shove them away in the closet. But I have to say, they’re crazy comfortable. I ditched my orthotics and wore them on short walks, then long walks, then short runs. (At close to a pound per pair, I feel like they’re too heavy for long runs.) I’m intrigued by how the midsole seems to adjust to my individual foot strike, which is different on each foot. My standard ailments—from a bunion to a tight hip to low-back pain—don’t bother me so much when I wear these shoes. The shoes seem to parallel the natural, and even barefoot, running trend, but with a totally different approach.

Here’s what Kerrigan has to say about the shoes.

Runner’s World: Tell me the theory behind OESH.

Casey Kerrigan: The intrinsic design of these shoes is different. There’s this idea that impact causes injury. Yes, when you get in a car accident, that’s true. But with walking and running, it’s really when your weight is fully planted and your weight is fully over your foot that your body weight is at its maximum. That’s where we develop every stress on our bodies. The compliant surface of the Harvard Indoor Track minimized injuries by 50% the first year it was in use. The foam used in traditional running shoes doesn’t achieve the compliant surface, or reduce forces when our bodies really need it. The goal is to provide relief in perfect tune when the body weight is at its highest.

RW: I read that you recommend ditching orthotics…

CK: You put on an orthotic, and you look like you’re more anatomically correct as it’s altering the forces you can’t see. You’ve shifted the forces to the inside of the foot, and increased the forces on the knee and the hip. It basically ices the foot…Freezes the foot out from what it’s supposed to do. The pronation and supination of the foot is key, even if you’re an overpronator or oversupinator, and an orthotic interferes with that motion.

RW: Tell me about the differences between the carbon fiber and traditional foam.

CK: Foam bottoms out, plastic, spring…all bottoms out before you get to that magic point where forces are the greatest. The carbon fiber works with the foot. It’s helping it get to the measurable compliance of the track.

Foam used for cushioning or pronation control increases forces on the body, and as it packs out, it changes daily with how it affects your gait. When my daughters ran in middle school, I didn’t let them wear traditional shoes. I had them in racing flats, because I thought traditional shoes would cause them damage.

RW: Your website says that these are “All-day Shoes.” Tell me a little about that.

CK: The design is such that you can get away wearing it all day. And injuries happen all day, not just on a run.

RW: Speaking of running, the shoes are heavier than other shoes out there. Are you working to make a more lightweight option?

CK: The carbon fiber is light. My big thing right now is getting the soles made in the U.S., and working on making a simpler design for the upper.

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