Recovery shoes, sandals and slip-ons are designed to reduce pain and stiffness after walking and speed recovery. Okabashi, Superfeet, Oofos, Hoka One One and others make shoes with huge, foamy footbeds and exaggerated soles. The shoes have an athletic-orthopedic look that is dorky at best. And if they work, that may not matter. But the evidence is a bit sketchy.
There are promising research results. According to Oofos, foam is used that absorbs 37 percent more impact than conventional foam shoe materials and has a bow design that reduces the ankle load by up to 20 percent. However, these data come from a brand-sponsored laboratory study from the University of Virginia. According to a study from 201
"There are no really good scientific studies that prove that these shoes make a difference," says Dr. Steven Neufeld, Foot and Ankle Surgeon at the Center for Advanced Orthopedics, Falls Church, Virginia.
Part of the problem is that there is no real way to measure "recovery," Dr. Mark Cucuzzella, a professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine and director of the Natural Running Center. "The shoes may correlate with recovery, but there is no specific causal relationship."