Gone are the days when I used to sacrifice comfort for fashion. I can’t say that I’m proud of those times. I remember wearing black platform sandals and feeling like I was walking in shoes made from blocks of cement. Then, I had a phase where I wore sandals with a lot of tight straps. The last strap always made my pinky toe swollen and my entire foot almost numb. And then I was in love with wearing those unstable sandals with thin high heels. I never really learned how to walk with those. My mother used to tease me that my 2-year-old cousin walks better than I do when I’m wearing heels. And sadly, she was right. Now that I’m a grown-up (in my early 30s) I really admire women who gracefully walk in high heels. I admire them from a distance, wearing my flat sandals.
My transition to flats wasn’t exactly smooth. First, I tried to pull off wedges before giving up on any kind of high heel. Then came those truly flat and hard sandals. They seemed comfortable at first glance, however, I hadn’t accounted for the fact they weren’t exactly soft. After walking around in them all day, I started thinking that perhaps all shoes are uncomfortable if you walk in them long enough.
I was having a cup of coffee with one of my friends, telling her all about my love-hate relationships with sandals. Instead of sympathizing and leaving it at that, she recommended that I give Birkenstock footwear a try. But why Birkenstock footwear? What makes them so special? Naturally, as I do with most people that pique interest in me, I went online and Googled the features and benefits of Birkenstock footwear. And boy was I pleasantly surprised.
For starters, their signature contoured arch support. The first one was developed by the cobbler Konrad Birkenstock, at the beginning of the twentieth century. Both physicians and podiatrists endorsed them. In the sixties, the famous Madrid model was launched and Birkenstock footwear was introduced to the US market. Their great popularity among consumers speaks for their quality.
So, what exactly makes Birkenstock footwear so comfortable?
The Trademark Footbed
- Deep Heel Cup – The purpose of the heel cup is to stabilize the foot and distribute the weight. If the weight is distributed unevenly, then it will be concentrated in one part of the foot, causing strain. When walking, some people roll their feet inward and some outward. It is usually visible that a certain part of the shoe is worn out. Having a deep heel cup will keep the heel of the foot in place.
- Arch Support – Shoes with arch support provide better balance and comfort for your feet. They are recommended for people with certain foot conditions.
- Toe Bar and Raised Edge – Having your toes in place is as important as having your heels in place. Your toes naturally slide forward while walking which causes toe gripping.
Leather and Cork
Leather is proven to be one of the best materials for shoemaking due to the fact that it molds to any form. With continual wear, leather softens and stretches, forming in the shape of your feet. It is a natural material, so it provides airflow and breathability. Plus, leather is one of the most abrasion- and impact-resistant materials on the market. The quality of the material influences the quality of the shoes.
As is the case with leather, cork is also a soft material that molds to the shape of your feet. Once you start wearing the shoes, the material becomes softer and you end up with a custom-molded shoe. Cork is also lightweight, so you won’t feel like weightlifting with your feet. And what makes cork the perfect material for summer sandals is the fact that it is a water-resistant material. This means that your shoes won’t absorb the sweat from your feet. Seeing how bacteria cannot thrive without moisture, your feet will remain healthy and odorless. And for all of you environmentally-conscious ladies out there, note that cork is a sustainable material. Trees aren’t cut down for the production of cork, but rather the bark of the trees is harvested for that purpose.
And then there is the bone patterned outsole. The outsole is soft and light, yet durable. The material is scuff resistant and this means that it won’t wear out unevenly. It is not recommended to wear shoes that are worn out at certain parts, for example, in the heels. If the outsole is worn out, your feet won’t be supported properly, so it is best to replace the soles or the shoes entirely.
How many times have you found the perfect sandals only to realize that they are too loose or too tight for your feet? When trying on shoes, the tightness is also a deciding factor on whether the size fits right. Ill-fitting shoes can cause corns and calluses, which isn’t exactly a pleasant sight while wearing sandals. If the shoes are too loose, your feet will slide and rub against them. The same thing happens if they are too tight as well. This friction is the main reason why corns and calluses appear on your feet. Instead of dealing with this painful hardened skin and figuring out how to remove it, why not prevent it altogether?