“Athletes want recovery footwear that doesn’t scream ‘plastic’,” notes Tread Labs’ founder Mark Paigen, but rather a “more casual, refined look.” As awareness of the category grows in the mainstream and recovery becomes a more significant part of daily life, “the need for different silhouettes has also increased,” comments Velous co-founder Brad Bischel. “Our research has told us that athletes want to not only recover ‘after’ exercising or their morning run, but all day while they are at work,” he adds. Instride (Xelero) president Dan Werremeyer reiterates that comfort is still a top priority, but consumers want functionality and style in a shoe, along with a vehicle to help “pursue the ultimate goals of enhanced health and an elevated quality of life.” People are striving for wellness. “So as the world of recovery and exercise footwear evolves – it’s not just about the shoes; it’s about the journey to a healthier, more fulfilling life,” he concludes.
For runners, specifically, the sport “can take a toll on the body,” explains OOFOS head of marketing, Darren Brown. Running shoes are highly constructed and can constrict feet as the runner goes across hard, unnatural surfaces, with each heel strike creating forces up to three-to-four times his/her bodyweight. Wearing recovery sandals can help relieve sore muscles and reduce stress on joints.
Recovery shoes can also contribute to injury prevention by supporting feet and providing stability. “When your feet are properly aligned and cushioned, you’re less likely to experience overuse injuries, stress fractures and other common running-related injuries,” says Telic founder Aaron Azzarito. “The act of putting on recovery shoes after a run can also have psychological benefits. It signals the transition from intense exercise to recovery mode, allowing you to mentally wind down and relax while enjoying the physical comfort,” adds the exec.
What are consumers looking for in a recovery shoe today?
“We spend much of our time standing and walking on hard, unnatural surfaces. While performance foams may be getting softer and softer, they feature high-rebound energy return properties. That can be great for running and court sports, but for the majority of their day, it is more important to have footwear that can absorb impact. OOFOS feature OOfoam technology, which has a slower rebound and mimics what it’s like to move on more forgiving surfaces.” – Darren Brown, head of marketing, OOFOS
“Consumers are first looking for after-race immediate relief. No matter how long the race, the will to feel cocooned and comfort is top of mind. We have seen that comfortable lightweight non-compressive slippers are the solution to accompany sports men and women outside of their run.” - Carl Sipos, global trail running product marketing manager, Salomon
“First and foremost, consumers look for comfort. With recovery shoes, that takes the form of relieving stress and pressure points on our feet. For us that means flexibility, optimal arch support and soft, but supportive, foam and uppers. We believe recovery footwear is more than just soft squishy foam and our goal is to provide the best solution. We divide the foot strike into its three main functions and provide three unique comfort solutions within one shoe. We call it TRI-MOTION.” – Brad Bischel, co-founder, VELOUS
“Consumers are looking for recovery footwear that provides soft but supportive comfort.” – Keith Shelton, merchandising and product development, Skechers Performance
“Gone are the days of one-dimensional footwear. We are offering ingenious solutions that empower consumers to stride toward complete wellness. The patented Xelero technology features a dynamic midsole that provides exceptional cushioning and stability, promoting a smooth gait and reducing the impact on joints. This unique innovation sets our recovery shoes apart, making them suitable not only for recovery or after exercise but also for daily wear.” - Dan Werremeyer, president, Instride Shoes (Xelero)
“Proper support, cushion, and breathability are three benefits the consumer looks for in a recovery shoe. Support is not just important under the arch; it is equally important in the heel to distribute weight properly. Cushioning is important for shock absorption and foot comfort. Finally, a clean and healthy environment is crucial to foot health. Having a shoe that is breathable post workout allows our feet to dry and prevents potential problems.” - Matt Dieckhaus, VP of sales and marketing, Latitudes (mōshn)
“Most importantly, superior arch support. That’s the defining feature of this category. Secondly, a recovery shoe must be virtually weightless. Currently, the category is all about color treatment. We have had lots of success with fun and vivacious prints.” – Megan Gold, design director, Alegria
“After a long hard, run or cycling session, athletes’ feet are tired, sore and begging for a breeze. Consumers are looking for footwear that is comfortable, supportive and super ventilated. There should be a generous fit with no pressure points, robust arch support to help the foot relax and an upper style that allows maximum ventilation. The arch support should not be too soft because a very soft midsole requires the small muscles in the foot, ankle and lower leg to fire to maintain postural stability” – Mark Paigen, founder, Tread Labs
“Although the recovery market is still dominated by spring and summer styles, we are seeing more and more that consumers want an option for colder months. Slippers, boots and closed-toe shoe options are starting to really gain traction. More traditional streamlined designs are giving way to extra thick soles as more and more people are seeing (and feeling) the benefits of beefy shock-absorbing midsoles.” – Aaron Azzarito, president, Telic
“Consumers are looking for a recovery shoe that not only feels comfortable but also looks good! We designed ours to look elegant, minimal, and feel like you’re walking on air.”– Sarah Humphries, director of marketing, Zensah
The Skyline is a full lace up shoe that brings TRI-MOTION technology in the form of an athletic shoe. The foam is engineered to be much softer than in a running shoe to allow for comfort and relief in a walking stride, with less impact force. Skyline offers optimal arch support and forefoot flexibility for a nice underfoot stretch. MSRP $120.
Genesis II stands as a testament to Xelero’s commitment to holistic well-being, merging advanced technology with modern style. Designed to elevate post-activity recovery experience, the Genesis II harmonizes with the natural motion of your feet. MSRP $194.99.
In addition to having the benefits of Dynamic Motion Technology, Vigor also has a stretchy “yoga pant-like” upper that is breathable and feels great on a foot that may be swollen post workout. SmartKnit uppers are machine washable and are versatile enough for any après-sport activity. MSRP $170.
OOFOS/OOmg Sport LS
This closed-toe shoe is built for post-workout recovery, but is equally ideal for casual wearers. The OOmg Sport LS design adds a tapered sidewall that provides both athletic styling and functional benefit. Paired with a unique 4-way stretch FibreFlex upper and an integrated lacing system, the OOmg Sport LS offers a sock-like fit that provides 360-degree distribution of pressure for superior foot mobility. MSRP $149.95.
Salomon/Reelax Moc 6.0 Ciele
Created with Canadian running brand Ciele Athletics, this moc combines Fuzefoam, a soft and light foam, with a synthetic upper that hugs the foot, providing relief when switching from athletic footwear. This foam is significantly softer than those used in the brand’s road and trail running shoes. MSRP $90.
Telic/Apres-Ski Boot 2.0
Slip on after yoga, running or a long day at work; the lightweight, waterproof, and lightly insulated Après-Ski Boot 2.0 incorporates Telic’s Novalon Footstrike Technology. The shoe offers orthotic-grade arch support, energizing rebound and a pleasing athleisure design. MSRP $149.
The RecoverMe collection consists of shoes with great arch support and are super lightweight, making them a great recovery shoe not only post-workout, but also when healing from injuries. The Ode thong offers a rocker outsole to promote balanced pressure distribution. 3D sublimation printing keeps them on trend. MSRP $60.
Skechers/Hyper Slide – Revive
Incorporating the key elements of an effective recovery shoe, this slide has a HYPER BURST cushioning midsole that is responsive and lightweight. The resilient foam is created from spherically shaped cells compressed into the midsole with a contoured comfort footbed. An anti-slip Goodyear Performance Outsole delivers enhanced traction, stability, and durability. MSRP $65.
Redway is an open toe sandal option with full adjustability at the ball and ankle. All Tread Labs sandals include Direct Attach construction with a long-lasting polyurethane (PU) midsole and a microfiber suede footbed. The microfiber is cooler and drier feeling than EVA or plastic, and can be machine washed weekly. MSRP $130.
Reposah 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. A structured heel will stay up (not fall or collapse down). A Vibram sole completes the package. MSRP $160.