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After-activity recovery footwear gains traction

These past few trade shows, the SNEWS team has spotted a rise in “recovery footwear” products geared toward adventurers and athletes who are looking something comfy to wear after a long hike or run. We take a look at the trend and a few of the new products to hit stores next fall.

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Few customers want to stay in their running shoes or hiking boots after logging many miles. At the end of the day, it’s time slip into something a little more comfortable.

And they’ve been doing that for years — flip flops are a top go-to — but now some footwear companies are specializing the category and putting a name to the products customers are wearing after day of activity: Recovery footwear. And sales are ramping up as athletes are not only looking for something comfy, but also something that can help them get back into the game faster. 

The SNEWS team has noticed several companies touting footwear that’s intended to make an athlete or enthusiast feel better after a long day of activity, and many of these products incorporate things like compression, specialty foot beds or loads of arch and other types of support.

“Athletes or people who are involved in activity, they take care of their bodies,” said Matt Hundley, marketing and communication manager for Birki’s. “They prepare, they train and they have the proper footwear and apparel for during the event and leading up to the event, but previously there wasn’t a whole lot of attention to after the event.”

Until now. Birki’s was one of several companys to launch or continue to focus on recovery footwear products at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market with two new items: The Kay Clog (MSRP $125) and the Three Quarter Comfy Slip-On (MSRP $145, photo left).


Both products have the company’s performance comfort heritage married with its Dynamic Footbed technology, which has a midsole layer of viscoelastic memory foam that stabilizes the foot, absorbs shock and distributes pressure. The Dynamic Footbed technology is part of the company’s Active Recovery System and include toe grips for improved blood circulation, arch supports and neutral foot bed, and deep heel cups for stability and heel pad protection.

Though a separate company, Birkenstock provides similar benefits with its classic designs, said Shelly Glasgow, director of product development at Birkenstock.

“We are the trend in recovery footwear,” said Glasgow. “We haven’t changed since 1963. We have the same shoe with the same arch support, contoured footbed … We’re the natural choice for recovery footwear.”

The stiff footbed of the Birkenstock products helps to work muscles and engage the toes to hold onto the shoe. The company focused on marketing its heritage Madrid (MSRP $70), which celebrated its 50th year on the scene this year.

When Crocs stormed the scene several years ago, adventurers far and wide began to incorporate the rubber clogs as camp shoes and post-activity comfy shoes. This past Winter Market the company launched its Duet Plus Clog (MSRP $50), which combines all the charm and technology the company is known for, such as its nubs on the sole that help increase blood flow, and the high-quality EVA that doesn’t break down as fast as you think it would. There’s also a Duet Flip Flop (MSRP $40) for those who may night like the closed-toed version.

Sales Rep Gary Milner said the desire among consumers for recovery footwear goes in waves, and right now it’s riding a high wave, albeit a higher wave than ever before.

Oofos Sandals is another player in the rubber sandal/clog space. The company came for the first time to Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2012, debuting its comfy sandal with its proprietary Oofoam, which absorbs shock, and takes the pressure off sore and tired feet. Linda Jaros, the Ooficial program director for the company, has trained professional athletes who have used the product for everything from their shower shoes to their post-run comfy shoe.

The company claims its products, like the Oofos Sport Recovery Sandal (MSRP $40, photo right) and the Oofos Clog Sandals (MSRP $50) can help alleviate pain post event and from joint ailment problems. The patented footbed design contours to fit, and support, the natural shape of your foot. It’s water resistant and machine and dishwasher safe.

Any retailers looking for additional information on how to sell the benefits of recovery footwear can hit up the Oofos Yooniversity educational information on the company’s website.

GoLite Footwear offers two new recovery slip-ons in its women’s Elixir (MSRP $99); and the men’s Exit (MSRP $109).

“The coolest thing that’s different about them is the upper is a memory foam material like the kind found in a posturpedic bed,” said Jody Linehan, vice president of sales. The uppers have quilted pockets filled with this material to provide a bit of compression to increase blood flow.

Though Xero Shoes can be used for recover, founder Steven Sashen said that his hurache-inspired running sandals are designed to avoid the need for recovery.

“If runners have good barefoot form, they don’t need recovery,” Sashen said. He said if your customers are in need of recovery they have to ask themselves if they’ve hurt themselves. Xero Shoes launched its ready-to-wear (previously their models had to be put together by the consumers) Sensori (MSRP N/A).

Recovery footwear is a great thing to have in stores, Linehan said, because more and more people are getting into running and other types of events after which they desire comfy footwear.

Plus, he added, the shoes can be worn for everything from throwing them on for an early-morning pajama coffee run to wearing around the lodge after a day of skiing. 

–Ana Trujillo