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Red Hot Recovery

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When Telic CEO Terry Stillman was a collegiate runner at Dartmouth in the 1990s, he would take his shoes off after a hard workout and jog or walk barefoot on the grass to recover. In 2012, Stillman went on to create a brand based on that barefoot feeling, yet with added supportive shock absorbing propulsion. Recovery products were prevalent in 2012 – supplements, socks, hydration drinks, cooling towels – but there were not a lot of footwear options. Fast forward ten years, and product is proliferating not only for runners, but nurses, teachers, production line workers and more. Today’s recovery category is for everyday athletes – which pretty much means each and every person who spends a significant amount of time on their feet! This new definition has opened up a wide variety of options to explore from a slew of brands. Here’s a roundup of the newest and most innovative. 

What Is a Recovery Shoe? We asked brand execs: As offerings broaden, what makes a “recovery shoe” to you and who needs to own one? 

“It’s all about arch support; if that is not a feature, then it’s not a recovery shoe. It is far better for your feet to wear a supportive shoe even just around the house than to go barefoot. Personally, I was in a car accident that injured my hip. I underwent many chiropractic and acupuncture visits. During this time, I lived in our Ode thong as it provided the support I needed but is so lightweight, my hip was not aggravated during the healing process.”

Megan Gold, design director, Alegria

“Recovery as a totality has, and is, continuing to grow as we learn more about the biomechanics of our bodies and science behind recovering. We’ve tailored our products to help both during and after activity as a way to keep people moving pain free. The benefits of reduced fatigue, shock absorption, support and stability are positives that all can enjoy.” 

Mindy Moreland, marketing manager, Foundation Wellness

“Whether all these new products can be properly dubbed recovery shoes is an open question. To me recovery means two things: recovering from a workout/race; or recovering from an injury. In turn there are two approaches: there are the brands that provide a lot of cushioning that absorbs the majority of the initial impact from a step. The other is more supportive, aiming to provide arch support over the longer term that allows the foot to recover (our approach). A supported arch will recover better and help avoid injuries such as plantar fasciitis.” 

Geoff Pedder, director of sales and marketing, Tread Labs

“Cushion under the foot and support around the heel under the arches are crucial for a recovery shoe. Additionally, having an upper that can stretch allows for the foot to swell without being strangled. Sweat provides a poor environment for your feet. Everyone should have a fresh recovery shoe that provides the elements of cushion and support for their post workout walking.” 

Matt Dieckhaus, VP of sales and marketing, Latitudes (mōshn)

“This feels in alignment with the trend of a more balanced lifestyle and the availability of more casual slip-ons. Recovery shoes have been targeting true athletes, but in reality, can be healthy for anyone to enjoy. Recovery shoes should offer softness and cushioning with support, not be overly restrictive and easy to get on and off.” 

Kelsey Jayne, footwear design director, Dansko

“It comes as no surprise that recovery shoes are broadening out and expanding at a rapid pace. Recovery footwear gives the wearer much needed relief through support, shock absorption, and energy return. The shoes can be used for running errands, after a long serving shift, traveling, or after chasing your kids all day. Recovery is also often worked towards after an injury (when it is already too late).” 

Aaron Azzarito, president, Telic

“Recovery is an important category of footwear, and athletes at every level have their own version of what recovery means to them. Skechers is The Comfort Technology Company, so recovery footwear is a natural component in our lineup.” 

Greg Smith: VP of product development and merchandise, Skechers Performance

“We started with the OOriginal and as it gained in popularity, consumers asked us for more styles that they could wear year-round, for example, winter boots, clogs and closed toe shoes. The OOFOS consumer is a mindset, not a specific demographic. They are consistently active through fitness, exercise and activities that keep them on their feet - whether that be workouts, long workdays or extended periods on their feet.”

Steve Gallo, president, OOFOS

“Trends like running super shoes and the overall rise of the performance category have led to an emphasis on recovery products at a high level. This has trickled down to more people getting exposure to recovery footwear. Recovery shoes tell a comfort story. Because of our brand’s roots in the biomechanical comfort, it makes for a perfect combination of comfort technologies that can be applied to our recovery footwear.” 

Taylor Leaf, senior footwear designer, Vionic Group

“For some people, a recovery shoe’s support and breathability might be crucial; for another it’s softness; for another it’s a design that blends with their lifestyle. You don’t have to be a marathoner or ultrarunner to benefit immensely from compression. In the same way, you don’t have to be an ultra-athlete to also use and appreciate a recovery shoe!” 

Sarah Humphries, director of marketing, Zensah

“We’re seeing that having a comfort option to either change into or simply live in all day is creating a 365-recovery environment. HOKA makes products for pro runners and first milers, ultra-marathoners and mountain roamers, neighborhood walkers and even wild trail runners, that lets moving go beyond performance. Our recovery models are built with the principles of maximal cushion and minimal weight.” 

Colin Ingram, senior director of product, HOKA

“Consumer awareness of foot health and its importance to one’s overall well-being has led to significant growth in this category. I think a lot of brands are finally realizing that people need recovery shoes they can count on in any situation; life doesn’t have to slow down just because you don’t have the right shoes. Helping offload bottom pressure and keeping the foot in alignment is critical to recovery.” 

Dan Werremeyer, CEO, Instride Shoes (Xelero) 

“The overall idea of recovery is not just immediately after your activity, it is an all-day concept. Consumers want options beyond a slide and flip to wear so they can ‘recover’ and do everyday activities at the same time. We are introducing a recovery shoe closed toe version in SS23. To properly heal, your feet need not only great cushioning and stability, but also great underfoot arch support and flexibility in the forefoot to allow your tendons to stretch and relax.” 

Tim Bartels, CEO, Velous Footwear

VELOUS/LAGUNA SLIDE

The easy-on Laguna Slide from new brand Velous features patent-pending Tri-Motion Technology, multi density foam and a lightweight and breathable upper all to help your feet feel their best faster after a long workout. A high-density arch shape provides optimal arch support and an ergonomic contour offers a comfortable standing position. Increased toe-spring provides a smooth, natural, rolling foot motion. MSRP $70

XELERO/TRU

Xelero presents its first athletic recovery sandal with TruRecovery. The shoe features Xelero technology which includes a control plate that works in unison with the brand’s other innovations, delivering shock absorption and stability the feet need. The technology emphasizes forward motion control, which offers stability and reduced pressure toe-off. MSRP $79.99.

ALEGRIA/ORBYT

As part of the RecoverMe collection, the Orbyt is an adjustable slide which features superior arch support and is crafted of lightweight EVA. A rocker outsole promotes balanced pressure distribution. The shoe offers superior grip against the contact surface for a sure step. MSRP $59.95.

VIONIC/REJUVENATE

Vionic product developers apply the brand’s Vio-Motion Technology to its offerings to create supportive, plush, and responsive footwear for maximal active recovery. Recovery is an extension of its Active Category, meaning that every material serves a function in active recovery, such as upper materials that stretch when needed. Outsole compounds are paired to give you structure and support but also provide the extra cushion you need post workout. MSRP $79.95.

SKECHERS/HYPER SLIDE 

This Under The Palms style of the Hyper Slide features a HYPER BURST cushioning midsole offering a highly responsive and ultra-lightweight experience. This resilient foam is created using a Super Critical process with spherically shapes cells compressed into the midsole. A Goodyear rubber outsole for enhances traction, stability, and durability. MSRP $70.

DANSKO/KRYSTAL

The sophisticated Krystal is lightweight, soft, supportive, comfortable, and easy to slip on/off. Different consumers have a range of needs in footwear – everything from secure to supportive to soft, so the brand offers variety in the underfoot experience. MSRP $80. 

TREAD LABS/ALBION

All Tread Labs sandals are recovery sandals which include arch support and incorporate the firm’s experience crafting insoles. A lightweight PU midsole lessens the load on legs, ankles and feet. Knitted uppers that are knit to the shape of the upper, which means less waste and a more comfortable ride. MSRP $120.

OOFOS/ OOMEGA CHUKKA

All OOFOS footwear features OOfoam, a proprietary technology that delivers impact-absorbing properties to more effectively distribute pressure and alleviate stresses on the body – helping aid in recovery. Together, OOfoam and a patented footbed design enable more natural motion, reduce load and stress on sore feet, knees and the back while cradling and supporting the arch. The Chukka incorporates the top-selling MEGA midsole. MSRP $149.95.

TELIC/WAVE

This traditional design is crafted from 30% recycled materials. The outsole not only reduces Telic’s carbon footprint, but it also reduces impact and offers a soft supportive energy-return with every step. The insole incorporates Telic’s Novalon Footstrike technology with an orthotic-grade arch support, deep heal cup, and textured massaging footbed. MSRP $109.

MOSHN/PULSE

The cushion and support from mōshn TRUComfort insoles provide the foot with just what it needs after a long workout. The forward momentum from the brand’s Dynamic Motion Technology reduces the amount of energy needed as the body recovers from a variety of strenuous activities. MSRP $170.

ZENSAH/REPOSAH

The new Reposah recovery shoe is a new offering from Zensah, a brand already well-known for its performance socks, sleeves and apparel. The shoe features a seamless flexible upper, which cradles the foot but gives it room with a wide toe box for space that doesn’t feel restrictive. Made in Italy like the brand’s compression socks, this easy slip-on includes an upper fabric that is 90% recycled nylon. It is sweat wicking and has special yarns that help to ensure an optimal body temperature while preventing the buildup of perspiration. A Vibram sole completes the package. MSRP $160. 

POWERSTEP/TWIN GORE SLIPPER 

Coming from a firm whose insoles are Podiatrist recommended, PowerStep slippers and sandals offer support and stability to help alleviate pain by reducing pressure on the foot and better aligning joints to move in a more fluid motion. The foam used helps to reduce the impact of each step with its shock absorbing properties. A deep heel cup reduces calcaneal shifting which can help to support up to the knees and back. MSRP $78.75. 

HOKA/ORA RECOVERY SLIDE

While HOKA is rooted in performance, a balanced product portfolio is the brand’s long-term strategic goal. Products like the Ora Recovery Slide are designed with cushioned HOKA foam midsoles for premium comfort, meta-rocker geometry complements the natural gait cycle and reduces the height differential between heel and toe, partnered within an Active Foot Frame to capture a tired foot for ultimate recovery. MSRP $55.

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