OESH – A Women’s Shoe for Knee and Foot Pain?
This is an update to a review done in 2012 on OESH shoes.
OESH is an interesting company. Started by Dr. Casey Kerrigan a Harvard physiatrist and researcher, the shoes are based on Dr. Kerrigan’s research findings – in particular on the effect of certain shoe attributes and the affect they have on the knee.
These findings include:
- The use of heels (even fairly low ones) significantly increase forces through the knee that are thought to contribute to knee arthritis
- Both narrow and wide heeled high-heel shoes have similar effect on increasing the forces that can lead to knee arthritis
- The use of flexible arch cushion in shoes may increase forces through the inside portion of the knee and these forces may contribute to the development of knee arthritis
- Specific wedging under the heel (pushing up on the outside of the heel) can decrease forces through the inside of the knee joint and may help people with arthritis in this portion of the knee.
Based on these findings, OESH are made with certain attributes:
- OESH shoes are made flat in all directions (figure 1 and 2) in order to reduce damaging forces that may lead to arthritis of the knee.
- OESH are designed to specifically fit woman’s feet, which normally have wider forefeet and narrower heels than men.
OESH are available as walking / athletic shoes and as casual. You can see OESH shoes here (affiliate links).
Who Might Benefit from OESH Shoes?
OESH Shoes for Women with Knee Arthritis
First I think OESH may offer a good option for women with a history of osteoarthritis of the knee. Dr. Kerrigan’s research as well as a substantial body of research from elsewhere has shown that the attributes of many common shoes may increase forces through the knee that lead to arthritis.
The flat insole of the OESH shoe also makes it easy for us to apply wedges and/or orthotics inside the shoe to further change force through the knee in order to try to reduce the pain of knee arthritis. More information on wedges and orthotics for knee pain is available here.
OESH Shoes for Women with Morton’s Neuroma
Morton’s neuroma is the enlargement of a nerve that travels between the 3rd and 4th metatarsals of the foot. Any shoe that compresses the foot side to side can increase the symptoms of Morton’s neuroma by essentially squeezing the nerve. The wide toebox of OESH shoes has the ability to reduce those forces significantly compared to a standard women’s shoe with a more pointed toe.
Using an orthotic designed to decrease pressure on the ball of the foot in the OESH shoes would offer the double benefit of decreasing side to side pressure with the shoe and pressure from the bottom of the foot with the orthotic. This combination is an excellent option for women with Morton’s neuroma.
Get our complete guide to neuroma treatment here.
OESH Shoes for Women with Bunions
Again, the wide toe box of OESH shoes may provide relief to women with bunions. Most women’s shoes are simply too narrow in the toe box and would compress the bunion deformity. The wider OESH toe box will decrease painful pressure on the forefoot.
Using an orthotic designed to improve big toe joint motion will also help. Orthotics for bunions and big toe joint pain are designed specifically to enhance motion of the big toe joint and reduce compression between the two bones that make up the joint.
You can find detailed information on orthotics for bunions and big toe joint pain here.
Any woman looking for a shoe with more room for their toes
Women tend to have feet with a wider forefoot and a narrower heel. Unfortunately, most women’s shoes are not made to fit this foot shape and this can lead to compression on the toes and forefoot pain. Anyone who is looking for a shoe to better fit the shape of a standard woman’s foot would do well to try OESH.
Who Should Not Use OESH?
In general, OESH are not a particularly stable shoe and women with significantly flat feet may find they do not provide adequate support. For more shoe suggestions download our list of recommended shoes.
If you have questions about how OESH (or other shoes) might work for a specific foot condition you can reply to this blog post with your question and we’ll try to help.
For more information on OESH shoes you can read the OESH shoes review thread on Podiatry Arena. This is a forum populated by some of the world’s top biomechanics experts.