Birkenstocks are the most comfortable sandals in the entire universe.

They're simply built-- just rubberish soles, leatherish straps, some little metal buckle things and cork, not space-age construction by any means-- and usually backless. They have, at first, a simple generic contour that more or less fits almost all feet.

But the key comes in the cork. Most of the sandal is cork. And even though the birks will fell weird and floppy and stiff for about a week, after the first week everything changes. Because after you've worn the birkenstocks for about a week, the cork starts literally breaking down just a bit, and literally reshapes itself to fit your foot perfectly. And thus you have the perfect sandal, designed exactly to your foot, fitting exactly to your foot, to an organic, perfect way that could not possibly be custom-designed by non-natural means to feel right to that degree.

If you get some Birks, make _absolutely_ sure that when the shiny stuff on the exposed sides of the cork wears off, you buy and apply some more. Failure to comply will result in the dreaded Birkenstock Rot. Treat your birks nicely, however, and they will last literally forever. I have heard stories of people using Birks that they have owned for upward of twenty years that are still in perfectly good condition.

I hate shoes. If only my high school didn't require shoes.. then i would be able to wear my birks all the time.. but as is i must be limit the bliss of my feet to weekends.

Typically people shop for shoes from the top down however educated Birkenstock fans recognize that one of the most important (and frequently neglected) components of a shoe is the support inside of the shoe. When you stick your hand (or foot) into a Birkenstock you will notice that the shoe has several unique contours. Most people are familiar with the medial arch of the foot. This arch is the most prominent one and is typically easily viewed unless people have extremely flat feet. Along with the medial arch the transverse, metatarsal and lateral arches are structures that benefit from proper support. Your foot was designed to move; shoes that give your foot the correct degree of support and offers your feet access to freedom of movement will be some of the best and most comfortable footwear you can buy.

Shoes are designed to protect and support you and your feet. Your body weight rests on a relatively small portion of your body and if you think about the physics that come into play when pressure is distributed it follows that the more contact the sole of your foot has with the footbed of a shoe the fewer pounds per square inch the soles of your feet carry. Naturally not every shoe will work for every person, the traditional Birkenstock footbed tends to work best for people who have medium arches, a medium to wide foot and what is referred to as normal or neutral pronation. Since the Birkenstock footbed is cork based the shoe will actually mold to your foot as you wear it creating a uniquely customized fit.

At work I stress the idea that shoes are not necessarily good or bad it depends on whether the shoe works for your foot. Birkenstock does manufacture shoes for people with flatter arches, they have also introduced a shoe with even more support for the approximately twenty percent of the population with unusually high arches. If Birkenstocks work for you they are good reliable shoes that are easy to maintain. Your foot is designed to do an amazing number of things. Worn barefoot or with the right socks Birkenstock offers people year round comfort, support and stability. As far as shoes go it is a lot of bang for your buck and some people balk at the price but if you take care of the shoes (or sandals) they will take care of you.

Care for your Birkenstocks depends on the materials used to construct the shoe. Leather needs little more than an occasional coat of beeswax, suede is a more delicate material, any suede product should be treated with a good water repellent and will benefit from frequent cleaning with a suede and nubuck block and brush kit. New Birkenstock soles have been sealed by the manufacturer, when you observe the outer sole there is a faint sheen to the cork indicating that the shoe has been properly sealed. Pay attention to that shine, cork needs to be sealed periodically and once the sheen is gone it's time to paint another thin layer of cork sealer over the original one. This will help you avoid what is commonly referred to as Birkenstock rot.

At work I see a lot of people wearing the wrong size shoes. Birkenstocks tend to work best for people who have uniformly sized feet. Most people will have a slight size discrepancy between their feet. One tends to be slightly longer/wider while the other may be slightly smaller/narrower. Birkenstock does provide consumers with the option to have a shoe designed for their specific foot however this writeup will be dealing with the standard shoes. Whenever you are being fitted for shoes pay attention to how much room your foot has inside the shoe. Just because you can get a foot on your shoe does not mean that it fits. When the Birkenstock shoe fits properly your heels fit very naturally into the heel cups, the shoes provide good functional support and there is a minimum of one quarter of an inch past the longest part of your toes before the top of your shoes begins.

How do you know if Birkenstocks will work for you? My best advice is to give them a try. A knowledgable sales person will help you determine if the shoe is right for you, anyone who works in shoes and expects to last will understand the different foot types and be able to recommend what they think will work best for your particular foot. A good sales person would rather have a customer walk out the door empty handed than with the wrong product, part of their job is customer education so don't be afraid to ask any questions you might have. Other shoe stores may vary but where I work we rank shoes in terms of comfortable walk/stand time. For instance, a good pair of three inch heels will provide anywhere from two to four hours of comfortable stand time.

Shoes should feel good and comfortable the first time you put them on. Because Birkenstocks are manufactured with a level of support that not many other shoes offer there may be an adjustment time for your body as it becomes accustomed to being properly supported. With shoes like the Birkenstocks my personal recommendation is to take your time getting used to them. Following the 2-4-6-8 rule may help your body habituate to the shoes. After your purchase wear the shoes around your home. Regardless of what they feel like take them off after two hours of continuous wear. When you can comfortably wear the shoes for two hours try wearing the shoes for four hours, then six, gradually building up to what you would consider a full day.

Birkenstock is one of the brands I recommend to people who are looking for what I would call a twelve to fourteen hour shoe. That means you can expect your Birkenstocks to provide you with comfortable all day support. At the end of a long day on your feet they may be fatigued. Your feet are carrying a lot of weight and quite frankly they don't always get the respect they deserve. Foot fatigue is normal, foot pain is not. Shoes should never hurt your feet, so if after a week or two your body does not find the shoes to be comfortable Birkenstock may not be the brand for you. Good footwear will benefit you and your body. It should carry you through whatever Herculean tasks you need to get through. Birkenstocks may not be the most beautiful shoes the world has ever seen but having pain free feet at the end of a long day is a beautiful thing. Next time you're in the market for relatively inexpensive good supportive shoes consider Birkenstock as one of your options. Birkenstock; because life is too short for uncomfortable shoes.

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