Are OOFOS Orthopedic Recovery Shoes Worth the Price? A Runner Investigates

July 14, 2020

I rekindled my love for running a few weeks ago. But unfortunately, after a couple weeks of consistent running I’m dealing with achilles tendonitis. The achilles tendon connects the heel bone to the calf muscle. Injury to the achilles tendon often manifests as heel pain and tenderness, and may last days or weeks. Left untreated, a damaged achilles tendon may tear or rupture. (If you suffer an achilles tendon injury which causes severe pain or impairment, please seek medical attention.)

Because I am pretty risk-averse by nature, the onset of discomfort in my achilles tendon deterred me from running for a few days. But when my discomfort persisted, I became impatient. Physical activity is very important to me. My dog Nitro and I hike and walk constantly. And I want to continue to run. Plus, I started experiencing discomfort during yoga, too. I found that in down-dog, when working to get my heels down close to the mat, my right heel/calf feels tighter. A bit weaker, and mildly painful.

Longing for relief, I went to my local “running sports” store and asked questions. The recommendation? Orthopedic “Recovery” sandals by OOFOS. After trying the sandals on in store, I thought I had to have them. Instantly, I could walk without discomfort.

OOFOS claim to help athletes (or highly-active folks) “recover faster” by utilizing “OOfoam technology” which absorbs 37% more impact than traditional shoe materials. Additionally, OOFOS patented foot-bed supports arches which reduces energy exertion in the ankles by up to 47% compared to competitive brands. And please note: I have incredibly high arches and can vouch for this claim. My feet feel cradled and supported in these sandals. I think I’m in love.

Not my first pick on the color, and I only died a little on the inside when a colleague complimented them and followed up with, “They kinda look like nice Crocs.” But a combination of shopping local and desperation had me willing to pay $59.99 to try them out for myself. (That may not seem costly to some folks, but it is to a second-hand shopper like myself. And unfortunately, there was nothing on the OOFOS website about sustainability.)

After a few days of wearing them, ahem, quite a lot, I started feeling strong enough to run again! And while I have cut my distance back, I do think these sandals have aided my recovery. It is worth noting that I’m incorporating other healing practices into my life as well. I’m drinking tart cherry juice and cooking my tofu with turmeric. I’m elevating my ankle while I lounge on my sofa.

On the contrary, I do believe there is an argument to be made for thinner foot-beds/going barefoot. When we consider that walking/running is a movement informed by tactile sensations, wearing a shoe that stifles our ability to feel the ground we’re navigating may ultimately hinder balance and proper gait. While wearing orthopedic shoes helps you recover faster by reducing the amount of “work” you have to do, it also diminishes the strength in your feet that you would develop naturally if you went barefoot.

All that to say, I personally plan to continue using orthopedic shoes to reach my activity goals and recover. I definitely feel that these shoes were worth the money. But I also plan to ensure I continue walking barefoot and wearing some shoes with thinner foot-beds. I think for me, like so many aspects of life, its just about finding that sweet balance.

Do you have any thoughts on orthopedic shoes?

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Photo: R. Coker

R. Coker
R. Coker is a legal professional and independent scholar. She enjoys spending time with her animal companions, reading, writing and exercising, especially yoga.

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