Can A Dress Shoe Really Mimic A Sports Shoe?

Kathleen Satterfield DPM FACFAOM

Have your patients been Oprahsuaded? I had not seen that word until recently. However, it makes perfect sense when you realize that Oprah Winfrey, the one woman powerhouse who just started her own network, can make a simple remark about a product and cause it to surge immediately to the top of best selling lists around the world. Shoes are no exception.

Maybe it is my move from South Texas to Southern California but I have been hearing a lot lately about women patients who are reluctant to wear tennis shoes when prescribed to do so. They want a more fashionable alternative.

This is where Oprah comes into the picture. She recommended a dressy shoe that feels like a tennis shoe, the Cole Haan Nike Air Technology. I have not tried this myself yet so I cannot personally offer a comment. I have colleagues who report that it is forgiving in the same way that a tennis shoe is with the same stability as a sport shoe because it contains this patented Nike technology.

Nike Air Technology sounds like a great buzzword phrase though. Is there something behind the million-dollar marketing? Apparently so. A quick Internet search reveals that independent California inventor Marion Frank Rudy developed the patented system and licensed it to Nike. The series of “pressurized gas” polyurethane capsules can and do go flat, but what is fascinating about Mr. Rudy’s invention is that the capsule can actually inflate itself through some gas trickery. Check out US Patent 4340626 if you want to know.

When I read about it, it made me wish that I had spent more time in the garage with those science kits that my brother and I used to get for Christmas. Who knew, right?

It made me wonder, is there a dress shoe alternative to a tennis shoe that we are comfortable placing our patients in when we want them in a sport-type shoe for a while? I am looking for a sturdy heel counter, a wider toe box and a semi-rigid sole that slows their propulsion. I am not convinced that the Cole Haan Nike Air Technology brand is it. I still need to find a pair and examine it.

What do you recommend for your patients?


Excellent proposition. I too have patients who routinely ask me about a variety of shoes they hear recommended on talk shows (or even infomercials). One of my challenges is in educating patients on what to look for when they inspect a dressier shoe prior to purchase.

Privo is a great example. The brand:
1. is widely distributed
2. has a comfort heritage, based solely on the reputation of their Clarks' parent name
3. are built on an accommodating last
4. are completely lacking in any sufficient midfoot support, and often complicate our treatments

We use many different, quality-made brands in our offices. It's no surprise that most are based in areas of the world where consumers demand higher quality without sacrificing looks. They also, almost without exception, come in a variety of fit lasts and widths. These include:

1. Durea (distributed in the US by Drew Shoe Corp.), especially the Iris
2. Ziera (formerly known as Kumfs), especially the Ego and other "E" and "S" styles
3. Aetrex, with notable exception of their Berries Collection
4. Munro, American made ... surprisingly

With limited confidence, there are options with Ahnu and Keen. The fit and counter meets your description. However, in their dressier styles, they are not suitable with use of custom orthotics. Even though the stock inlays are removable, they are the only support element provided for their soling.

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