Posted by: Foot Sensation
Sunday, April 26, 2020
What they are?
They all have the same footbed construction, essentially, it’s the uppers that vary for style and comfort and fit. Essentially, they act to secure the footbed in place. Differing strap configurations work differently with different feet. The footbed won’t work well unless they stay under your feet so that’s where the uppers come in.
Some models have narrow sizes, some have extra padding. Birkenstock sandals are essentially a cork composite footbed designed to correspond to the anatomy of the foot. Much in the same way a custom orthotic works however more generically.
How they Help?
Anatomically and biomechanically the foot is arguably the most complicated structure of the human body. With 26 bones 33 joints and over one hundred muscle ligaments and tendons it is naturally more susceptible to problems.
Birkenstocks ensure that the foot functions in a biomechanically accurate way which reduces the stresses on the anatomical structures of the foot.
What size do you buy?
As with all footwear, size does not matter. It’s the fit that matters. Few realize that sizing is not standardized in the footwear industry. Sizes differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, from style to style and person to person.
Having said this how do you choose the right fit of Birks for you?
To ensure the best fit, the upper should be un-done and the foot placed on the footbed while standing. That’s important because the foot will change shape while weight-bearing, it will get longer and spread.
The foot should be placed centered, directly over the arch support of the footbed. You may need to wiggle around a little to make sure it’s comfortable. With this done there should be the equal spacing of about an eighth of an inch at the heel and toes.
You then need to fasten the uppers so they hold the foot firmly to the footbed and walk. If the heel comes down into contact with the footbed or the toes slide too far forward and press against the front when walking consider a larger size.
Breaking in your Birkenstocks
(Sorry this is technical.)
Depending on your foot structure and gait, the footbeds can at first seem hard and unforgiving. Really there are two things going on here. First, you have to get used to them and secondly, they have to get used to you.
Perseverance will pay off here. If you have issues wear them a little each day as your foot gets used to functioning the way it was originally designed. Remember that changing the way the foot functions can have an effect on the entire body as it has gotten used to doing things in its own way. The human body wants to function in the most efficient way it can, so if there are biomechanical abnormalities the muscles tendons and ligaments will shorten or lengthen to increase this efficiency.
For example, if the arch of one foot collapses more than the other this will cause structural shortening of one leg. To accommodate this the various structures of the entire body must change in an attempt to ensure the optimal functioning of the foot, the leg the pelvis, and so on. Sometimes an uncomfortable time. What I’m saying is that if the foot is not functioning properly it can even give you a sore back, as the body tries to adapt.
If you correct this imbalance then the body reevaluates and adjusts again. This takes time. A cautious approach is necessary if there are issues but these are usually temporary.
Secondly, we need to take into consideration the design of the footbeds. The cork composite footbed is not as rigid as it seems. Pressure and heat from the foot will mold the footbed over time. If there are areas of high pressure, these will compact more than the rest. The result will be to evenly spread out the weight of your body over the entire sole of the foot. You are essentially customizing your own pair of Birks.
How to care for your Birks
I tend to neglect my old friends but I’m not too hard on them. You can keep them in good shape and looking good with a couple of simple steps (pun intended).
Firstly, the footbed.
The footbed is made from natural ground cork which is combined natural latex which is covered with Jute which is a burlap material and then covered with suede leather. Some footbeds come with extra padding made from closed-cell foam. All high-quality materials and renewable natural materials that come from renewable sources.
The footbeds are sealed around the edges with a flexible clear drying coating which over time will wear out. The material loses its semi-gloss appearance and starts to look dry. Because it’s not protected now it allows moisture and dirt to get in which will speed up the degradation of the cork. Birkenstock has a product called “Cork Renew” which is designed to seal the cork preventing this from happening.
To keep the suede cover of the footbed looking good you can use a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol. You can gently sand the suede with fine-grit sandpaper to remove grime and dirt. Water will stain suede so do your best not to get them wet.
Occasionally cracking can happen in the areas where the toes flex. This is due to the increased flexibility of the sole material as it wears out. Additionally, the sole material can thin. How long this takes is dependant on the wearer. As we know some people are just harder on shoes than others that can result from many different causes.
Whether your considering taking that first foray into foot relief, getting a new style, or replacing your old friends now, unfortunately, would be the perfect time to break them in.
Remember we are a community.
Keep yourself safe and you keep us all safe.