Sneakers are getting smarter. Last year, Nike designers launched the Zoom Vaporfly Elite to make the sub two hour marathon a reality, and On added a little extra bounce to our steps with their pillowy CloudTec soles. The same technology once earmarked for performance, is now laser-focused on recovery. A crop of companies has started creating the footwear equivalent of foam rollers. Leading the charge is Oofos: a shoe designed to absorb 37 percent more impact than the average sneak.
Shock-absorbing footwear, designed to propel you forward with maximum energy return is hardly new: Adidas Boost hit the market in 2013 and Nike React foam cushioning followed suit five years later in 2018. But Oofos president Steve Gallo says that the brand’s signature recovery sole—”Oofoam Technology”—has no desire to emulate those products. In fact, the brand wants to do the exact opposite. “Our foam, which is the entire footbed, is made out of a proprietary mix of different chemicals and foam, and what it does is the exact opposite of what you see with Nike React and Adidas Boost. The idea is, when you step down on it, it actually requires less ankle power when you walk,” says Gallo.
In other words, the technology doesn’t just absorb the shock of your foot hitting the ground; it literally makes every step easier. (Oofos’ brand-sponsored University of Virginia lab study found that Oofoam technology reduces ankle exertion by up to 47 percent compared to general performance footwear.) In theory, that means that wearing them for just a few hours a day could help you recover from your workouts faster than, say, high heels or zero-support flats. “What’s nice about us is we’re the product that you wear when you’re not running, or doing a CrossFit class, or playing basketball,” says Gallo. Here’s what happened when I tried them.
Oofos review: what it’s like to wear recovery shoes
The fact that Uggs, Crocs, and gorpcore sneakers all had their time in the—IMO, not-so-fashion-forward—sun suggests that the human race is very willing to choose comfort over all else. And, to be perfectly honest, OOFOS very much belongs in the utilitarian footwear camp. When I first unbox them, their aesthetic appearance very much makes me doubt that they’ll have a long lifespan in my closet. But hey, I thought the same thing about Air Force 1’s and now they’re my most prized possession—so I’m open to possibilities.
Shop now: Oofos Women’s OOMG Low Shoe, $140
Since I spend the majority of my time at the Well+Good office, I decided to keep my Oofos shoes ($140) right here. Once I’d settled down at my desk each day, I shed my uncomfortable street shoes and slipped on my Oofos to discover that they are remarkably comfortable. With every step I took, they seem to transform the floor into the wavy, soft material of the bouncy houses of birthday parties yore. But that’s enough about the feel! Let’s get down to the cold hard truth about whether the shoes actually helped me recover.
The first day I planned on wearing my flashy new shoes, I kicked off the morning with a five-mile run at a slightly faster clip than normal. My goal was to be physically sore before I get to work so that I could carefully track how the shoes alleviated the soreness as Monday progressed. And sure enough, I did feel like the fatigue that settled into my quads, hamstrings, and hip flexors lessened throughout the day. Normally, I’d be pouring all my weight into boots or flat sneakers that didn’t exactly protect my footfalls, but Oofos seemed to take the edge off walking around.
Throughout the week, I continued to do more and more leg-centric workouts (curse you, sliders and resistance bands) to test how well my lower body got along with the shoes. And, yeah, they did seem to ensure that my body hit the refresh button before delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) truly set in. For people who are on their feet all day, like nurses, I bet these would be life-changing. I do hope they get a glow-up someday soon. I’d love if I could just be recovering from, you know, life 24/7.
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