After more than 20 years of publishing breakthrough research on how humans run and walk, D. Casey Kerrigan, M.D. has completely re-imagined the traditional running shoe. She calls it the OESH—which is the word “shoe” upside down and inside out. To design the OESH shoe Kerrigan did not just think outside the box; she threw the box away: leaving the shoe’s midsole open on one side.
A shoe with an open midsole is huge a paradigm shift in footwear. While all the big name running shoe makers are figuring out what next to put inside the sole—air, gel, rubber, bubble gum etc. Kerrigan said: just leave the midsole open! In the shoe design world, Kerrigan’s decision to leave the midsole open is akin to Galileo saying the Earth revolves around the sun (not the other way around). There is a striking elegance in the simplicity of the OESH design.
As an aside, I commend her for having the courage to follow through on this shoe. On the drawing pad, one had to think twigs and debris would lodge in this open area. However, this turns out not to be a problem at all in everyday wear.
OESH calls this open area the Void, and Dr. Kerrigan states that it is this absence of anything that allows the shoe the freedom to flex with your body. Because of the Void, the claim is that it does not matter if you supinate or pronate, the Void allows your foot the freedom to move naturally. And natural is always better.
In an ideal world the ultimate in natural is barefoot (or second best, a minimalist shoe), but if you choose to wear a shoe (and for now, most people do), OESH appears to be the shoe you should be wearing. I say, appears because OESH does not make my shoe size and thus, I have not had the opportunity to try the shoe myself. So the next best thing was to have my wife, who has smaller feet, wear them. She thought they were the most comfortable shoes she had ever worn. Given that she suffers with foot and ankle problems and has tried many styles of shoes over the years, this was surprising.
OESH claims that this revolutionary shoe eliminates the need for foot orthotics because it provides compliance at the critical time when the foot is maximally stressed. The shoe sole is made of carbon fiber cantilevers that are oriented in such a way that they flex downward only when the foot is fully planted on the ground. It is the orientation of the cantilevers that allows the midsole to compress and release in perfect harmony with the compression and release of the arch of the foot. This action ensures that the foot undergoes a complete, fully natural and uninhibited range of motion, while simultaneously providing compliance to the rest of the body.
As a podiatrist who has dedicated my life to alleviating pain often by making people custom made foot orthotics, I was skeptical. But, it appears that this remarkably designed shoe may replace the need for orthotics, and for that matter, arch supports, insoles, heel pads, heel cups, and anything else we may wedge into our typical running shoe… and believer me, I have seen a lot of people wedge a lot of different things into their shoes! When my wife wore the OESH shoe, she found that her painful, over-pronating, flat feet no longer required her custom-made orthotics for comfort.
Certainly, my wife not needing her orthotics is not scientific proof that OESH shoes can replace orthotics, but it is interesting. And OESH is an interesting shoe. The most interesting shoe we have seen in a long, long time.
Now, I just hope they would make an OESH shoe in my size!
Check out these amazing OESH shoes at http://oeshshoes.com/