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
    oesh shoes wide flat insole

    Figure 1

  • 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.
    cut-away-oesh-4 side

    figure 2

  • 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

la vida osesh

OESH La Vida

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

oesh womens elite

OESH Elite

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.

You can see a selection of OESH shoes here.

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.

Dr. Larry Huppin
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16 thoughts on “OESH Shoes – Unbiased Review by Podiatrist | Seattle Podiatrist

  1. These are the only shoes that have helped my Morton’s neuroma to the point that I can actually go out and walk for miles. Shame on you for being so negative. I now own 3 pairs. Life saver.

    1. I think it is wonderful that they have helped you and I would suggest you continue wearing them.

      I never said they were bad shoes, only that they are making marketing claims regarding their medical benefit that have no basis in research. There are, in fact, some features I really like about them – such as the wider toebox.

      My point is not to say these are bad shoes, but there have been a number of shoe manufacturers lately claiming “medical benefits” without any evidence to back up their claims and I think the buyer should beware.

  2. Dear Dr. Huppin:

    I have suffered from Morton’s Neuroma in both feet for at least ten years. I tried everything recommended by two different podiatrists including shoes with wider toe boxes. Nothing helped. In desperation, I googled “best shoes morton’s neuroma” and discovered the OESH shoe. I’m on my third pair and feel like I have my life back. Although they are a light weight shoe (I compare them to ballet slippers and moccasins), I wear them in all hiking conditions, for example, through lava beds in the Galapagos Islands, over sharp rocks at 10,000 ft., for 10 miles hikes in all conditions. It seems counter intuitive to wear such light shoes under conditions where I used to only wear pretty tough hiking boots, but I no longer believe that thick soles and stiff construction are as important as they’re made out to be, and with Morton’s Neuroma traditional hiking shoes are the kiss of death. These light, embracing, comfortable shoes take me everywhere I want to go. I’m a huge fan.

  3. I wish I had read this before I ordered the shoes, I found them very uncomfortable. Their return policy is terrible (2 weeks) and so now I’m “stuck” with a credit,

    I downloaded your list of recommended shoes. Do you have any recommendations for a dance sneaker for Zumba? I have flat feet and prone to plantar fasciitis.

    Thank you for your review!

  4. can you recommend any dance shoes (as in not having non-skid soles), but also being wide and good for ball of foot pain or neromas? I have been a dancer for 20 years and now have such bad foot pain that I can barely dance! Please help!

  5. Hello…I have Morton’s neuroma in my left foot, extremely flat feet and one bad right knee. What shoes do you recommend? I am an OR nurse so I’m on my feet 12 hours a day.

    1. I am always hesitant to suggest a particular shoe since we all have different shaped feet but I can give you some guidence. With a neuroma we want to reduce pressure on the ball of the foot AND reduce side-to-side compression of the forefoot.

      To reduce pressure you should use an arch support to transfer pressure from the ball of the foot to the arch. If you have a flat foot you will need one that is wide also. My favorite is the PowerStep Wide Arch Support.

      For shoes you will want a wide forefoot. I think New Balance and Brooks do a great job with a wider forefoot shoe. I have a lot of nurses who are patients and wear the Brooks Addiction (be sure to get the wide width – probably the 2E or at least the C/D). That link shows both the running and walking versions and either is fine.

      If you are still not better see a podiatrist who specializes in orthotic therapy. Good custom orthotics will help get even more pressure off of the forefoot.

      Good luck!!

  6. Hi. Trying to wear new lousy custom moccasins with very rigid bullhide soles left me with ball of foot pain. Would these be good or bad for that? I usually need deep flex grooves in sole for max sole flexibility ( i was drawn to these because have wide forefoot, need lightweight shoes, and have an AI condition that gives tendon problems and assorted joint problems oh and knee cap issues). I do best bearfoot. Thanks for your wisdom.

  7. I just bought a pair of oesh shoes for my arthritic knees and I love them! Very comfortable and doesn’t put pressure on my knees when I walk.

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