Last Updated on September 10, 2023 by Martina McKeough
Birkenstocks are a hugely popular brand of sandals that are supposed to be comfortable, fashionable, and practical. So why do Birkenstocks hurt my feet?
Wearing Birkenstocks shouldn’t be a chore but it appears I and many others find that they can cause foot issues and pain that I wasn’t expecting.
I was tempted to throw in the towel and consign my Birkenstocks to the back of my closet until I started to research why I might be experiencing problems. Learning a little more about the breaking-in process and common problems for these sandals made them wearable for me and hopefully, my knowledge can help you as well.
Here is what you need to know if you have found your Birkenstock Sandals impossible to wear and don’t know what to do about it.
This post may contain affiliate links which means that we get a commission if you choose to make a purchase through the link. This is at no cost to you. Please read our disclosure page for more information.
Do Birkenstocks Mold To Your Feet?
Why do Birkenstocks hurt my feet? Well, the number one reason that almost made me and no doubt thousands of others feel like giving up on their sandals is that they need to be broken in.
This process isn’t necessarily well advertised but the fact is it can take a few weeks to a month to break in your sandals and make them comfortable and mold to your feet.
When you first buy the sandals you will note that the Birkenstock footbeds are unique with raised sections just beneath the toes and contoured arch support, deep heel cups, and structured sides to support your feet. These can take some time to get used to, especially after you have worn regular shoes and sandals for years.
This means for most people if you put them on and expect to walk for miles in them you are going to get a shock as your feet will hurt and you may experience calf and leg pain.
Instead, you need to break the sandals in over a period of weeks. When you do this you should find that the new Birkenstocks will start to soften and mold to your foot shape so that eventually you don’t even notice you are wearing them at all.
In a world where we want everything fast, this is problematic for many people who simply don’t have the patience for them. If however, you accept that making them comfortable shoes for walking in takes time you are going to be less disappointed.
How Do You Make Birkenstocks Less Painful? – Break Them In Slowly
Here are just some simple ways you can break in Birkenstocks sandals and stop any foot pain preventing you from wearing your shoes.
The first thing you need to do is make sure you only wear them for short periods of time especially for the first few weeks. At first, I would only wear mine for around half an hour a day to get used to them. Then when I found I could tolerate a half hour without any problem I started to increase the time I wore them every day.
So half an hour soon became an hour and then after a week or so I could wear them for three or four hours at a time. Within the month they were easy to wear for walking around in the whole day.
By this point, the footbed of my sandals had softened and started to take the shape of my feet. This was when I decided to wear them regularly outside the house which I managed with no foot problems at all. All I needed was a little patience to solve the problem.
Of course, I was lucky as breaking them in was all it took for them to become wearable. For some of you, there are extra factors to consider to stop the sandals from rubbing or hurting.
Wearing Birks With Socks For Comfort
When you are wearing Birks and breaking them in for the first time the footbed can feel hard and lack the flexibility of shoes that you may be used to.
To counteract this problem you could start by wearing socks with your Birkenstocks to cushion your feet. Birkenstock socks are a product as well so you can use their branded items to help with the breaking-in process.
Whilst some people wear socks with their Birkenstocks normally many people much prefer to wear their sandals barefoot. This means you probably want to wear your new Birks and socks around the house rather than outside.
As your feet get used to the footbed and arch support you can start to remove the socks and hopefully by then your feet will have adjusted to the sandals.
Why Are Birkenstocks So Hard?
Birkenstocks can feel hard especially when they are brand new because the footbed of the shoe is relatively thick and can lack flexibility.
This original footbed has however been designed to keep your feet in the correct position so that you minimize foot problems. In order for this to happen the makers have created a footbed that is made from cork, latex, and jute usually with a suede covering on top.
Whilst the original footbeds can take some time to break in there is an alternative as Birkenstocks have already created sandals with a soft footbed. This soft footbed has a foam insert in it to create extra comfort.
So if you are finding the original Birkenstocks too difficult to wear try and get ones with soft footbeds instead as you may find them easier to wear when you walk.
Choosing the Right Size Style For Your Feet
Whilst Birkenstocks have a version with a soft footbed they also have a few different styles as well which you should think about if you find that they hurt in any way.
Birkenstock actually offers two different types of sandals which are their standard width and then a narrow fit for anyone who has smaller feet.
Clearly trying to keep a pair of standard-width shoes on your feet when you have a narrow feet makes no sense and could be the source of why you are experiencing discomfort.
Whilst Birkenstock straps are adjustable it makes much more sense to buy the right size and width of sandals for your feet rather than trying to make something work that will continually aggravate your feet.
Buy a Pair of Their Shearling Sandals
As well as the different widths of sandals Birkenstocks does a large range of different footwear styles that might be more suitable for you.
In particular, Birkenstock Arizona Shearling Sandals have a footbed that is covered in shearling rather than the traditional cork. This is going to be softer on your feet and cozier.
As the shearling is also underneath the straps it can also prevent problems such as rubbing and prevent blisters.
Whilst these are more expensive than the traditional Birkenstocks they are highly fashionable and comfortable so it makes sense that you will pay a little more.
You Are Wearing the Wrong Size of Sandals
Why do Birkenstocks hurt my feet? Well, an obvious problem is that you need to make sure that you are wearing the right shoe size first which gives you enough room for your feet and toes.
Whilst Birkenstocks tend to run true to size the original style is relatively wide to allow your toes to have enough room inside the sandals. This can take a little getting used to for some people.
Remember that your foot should be cradled inside the footbed. If your toes or foot sit awkwardly in the shoes or you find that they are rubbing anywhere then you may need to look at a different shoe size to get the comfort that you want.
The Sandals Hurt Your Toes
A common problem with foot pain and Birkenstocks is that they can hurt your toes. This isn’t just because of the wide toe box but due to the raised toe grip at the front of the footwear.
Whilst some people find this does not cause them a problem others find that it makes their sandals unwearable.
Luckily there is a really quick fix you can use to solve the problem. I suggest you only do this when you know you can’t take your sandals back to the store for a different size or style.
All you need is a hammer and a soft cloth. Place the cloth over the raised toe area and strike the hammer gently onto the areas of the footbed that are causing you a problem. This will help to soften up the cork footbed and flatten the raised areas.
Don’t get carried away doing this. Just use the hammer a few times at first and then try on your shoe for size and comfort. If you still have a problem you can repeat the process until it feels comfortable for you.
Birkenstocks Hurt Side of Foot
Another place where your Birkenstocks can cause foot pain is at the side of your foot. If you are seeing indents around the side of your feet or you are getting blisters then you need to do the following.
Firstly assess that you have the right size of sandals. If you have bought ones with a narrow fit then it makes sense to exchange them for standard-size sandals.
If your sizing is ok then the next thing you should consider is whether the buckles on your Birkenstock sandals are done up too tightly. Try and make them one notch looser to see if that can help.
Stopping Pain in The Toe Bar
Some Birkenstock styles have two straps that sit across the foot to keep the sandals in place as you walk. However, there are also Birkenstock Gizeh sandals that tend to resemble flip-flops. These can cause problems where your big toe and second toe meet.
Rubbing in this area can cause blisters and stop you from wanting to wear your sandals. As the solution is the same as with flip flops head over to my article on how to stop flip flops from rubbing your toes and read some of my tips on how to prevent the problem.
What To Do When Birkenstocks Hurt Your Arches
As Birkenstocks have an arch support in the sandals this can sometimes take a little getting used to especially if you have flat feet.
Breaking in your shoes as I discussed earlier should help the problem when you are wearing them for walks. If that doesn’t resolve the problem then hammering the arch can help. Rember to use the hammer gently and don’t get carried away.
Soft footbed sandal styles are less likely to cause the problem and might be a great way to introduce your feet to Birkenstock shoes rather than picking the harder footbed style initially.
Birkenstocks Can Cause Dry Feet Here’s What To Do
As your feet are exposed to the air when you are wearing Birkenstocks another thing you need to be careful of is dry feet and heels.
Minor dryness shouldn’t cause too many problems (although it can look unsightly) but if it gets worse you may find that you get fissures and cracked heels and feet which can cause pain.
Birkenstocks can increase this issue as the footbed can absorb moisture exacerbating the problem.
So if you suffer from dry feet you need to think about keeping your feet in tip-top condition to prevent this problem. You can do this by first using an electric callus remover to remove dead skin.
Secondly when the dead skin has been removed use a good foot moisturizer such as Ebanal Urea Cream to keep them looking smooth.
Make sure you use the callus remover at least once a week and the cream twice a day to prevent sore dry feet making your life a misery.
Birkenstocks Causing Calluses
If you are asking yourself why do Birkenstocks hurt my feet then you also need to think about whether they have caused any calluses that might be causing a problem.
Calluses or thick dead skin on your feet can hurt when you walk and generally feel uncomfortable. Removing dead skin and moisturizing can help but if that is not enough you could try using moleskin padding that I talked about earlier on any problem spots to see if that helps.
Felt callus pads can also be helpful and these can be used on the balls of your feet or on your heels. These help to reduce any friction that is causing the problem thereby reducing any foot pain.
Can Birkenstocks Cause Foot Problems?
The fact is that no shoe or sandal will work for everyone’s feet. This means that some people will find that Birkenstocks are wonderful and a cure for conditions such as Plantar Fasciitis and foot pain whilst others find they make the problem worse.
The inflexible thick sole of the sandals means that some people may find walking in them difficult. That in turn can cause foot problems later on.
They are also just sandals and not a shoe which means they are not always going to be as supportive as some other types of footwear.
If you have flat feet then the sandals can help as the arch support is just what you need. However, if you don’t have flat feet then the arch support may be too much and cause your feet to get lazy wearing the shoes and cause further problems down the line.
Therefore if you do buy Birkenstocks make sure you use them in conjunction with other types of footwear as well to avoid these kinds of problems and never ever force yourself to wear your sandals if they are hurting your feet.
More Articles About Birkenstocks
*This site is owned and operated by Chicpedi.com. Chicpedi.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
- What To Do If Doc Martens Make Your Toes Numb - November 14, 2023
- Is Nubuck Leather Waterproof Or Water-Resistant in Footwear? - November 6, 2023
- Finding Boots Better Than Doc Martens – Best Alternatives To Docs - October 31, 2023