Shoe Anatomy 101: The Crown, the Cradle and why OESH has None

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 has a crown or slight medial to lateral curvature unlike our OESH last 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!)

The Crown

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 Cradle

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.


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