Home The Book Dr Articles Products Message Boards Journal Articles Search Our Surveys Surgery ESWT Dr Messages Find Good Drs video

I've worn Birks for 15 years and now have heel pain--what's up?

Posted by Flora F. on 5/24/01 at 13:13 (048786)

I'm 33 and just had my second child. I've worn Birks exclusively since I was 18 because of a family history of BAAAD bunions. My heel pain began after I did a couple of vigorous walks after the baby was born. My doctor told me to try arch supports. The fellow who sold me the spenco orthotics I'm wearing in New Balance walking shoes told me not to go barefoot, and to lay off the Birks until I was pain-free, to keep tension off the plantar fascia. It's been 3 months now, and I'm not noticing improvement. I've laid off walking. I'm doing yoga. What's the scoop? Do I need an all-new shoe wardrobe? How long does the average recuperation from this injury take? It's summer, and I'm worried about having sweaty feet all the time.

Re: I've worn Birks for 15 years and now have heel pain--what's up?

Valerie S on 5/24/01 at hrmin (048804)

Hi Flora.

I have been wearing Birks for about 10 years, and exclusively for the last 5 or so. Totally cured my ingrown toenails. There doesn't seem to be any shoe as toe-friendly for me...

I have also been working on my feet my entire life (I am 30). About 9 months ago, I started to develop heel pain. So, Birkenstocks alone can't prevent PF. A lot of people find them to be good shoes to wear to help in relieving it though. Different people seem to get relief from different shoes (only makes sense...). I still wear my Birks because my toes hate being squished...but that's me. Hopefully you will find a good solution for YOU.

A couple of questions for you... when did you first start with the symptoms of PF? Did you see a general practioner or a foot specialist? To begin with, I would go the link at the top of the page that says PF Book... print this out and read it. You will find lots of answers and information. RE: 'How long does the average recuperation take??' That's a good one... unfortunately, it could take a long time, especially if you are on your feet a lot. TIME is a big part of the cure, so patience is important. I know it's frustrating with summer coming... there are no easy answers. It's just a matter of finding what solution or combination of treatments works for you.

Good luck to you... and try to remember you are not alone. You will find lots of friends and advice here; this website has been a real lifesaver for me.

Take it easy...Val.

Re: I've worn Birks for 15 years and now have heel pain--what's up?

Julie on 5/25/01 at 03:15 (048843)

Hi Flora

Birks are good, supportive shoes that are unique in that they make the muscles of your feet work as you walk, but that doesn't mean they can protect against all foot-eventualities.

It's possible to wear the same pair for too long, so that the arch wears down. I'm not suggesting that you have, or that that could be the reason for your heel pain, just pointing out the possibility.I have an old pair of Arizonas that this has happened to: the difference when I started a new pair was very marked.

I don't understand thereasoning behind the advice you were given to lay off the Birks 'to keep the tension off the plantar fascia'. I think the Birk arch _does_ keep the tension off the fascia. But I don't know your foot type, and perhaps the Spenco salesman had some good reason for giving you that advice. Perhaps you could get a second opinion on this. I don't think you should lose faith in Birks if they have suited you for all this time.

It seems it's not unusual for women to develop PF after pregnancy and childbirth - we've had several women report on this. It could have something to do with the rapid weight gain and the extra strain on the fascia, but it could also be linked to hormonal changes. I've begun to suspect that it could also be due to postural changes. The weight of the growing baby pulls you forward, and unless this is controlled by strong abdominal muscles, it increases the lower back arch. That in turn can affect/change the way you walk. It can also cause excessive pressure on the intervertebral discs and possibly nerve impingement, which can have a knock-on effect on the feet.

Of course these are just speculations in your case. The point I'm making is that there probably isn't a cause and effect relationship between Birks and your pain!

Now: I should have said this first! Go to a podiatrist and get a full evaluation of your gait, and a proper diagnosis of your heel pain. If you have a biomechanical fault, you may need custom orthotics (though over-the-counter ones do work for many people if there is no biomechanical fault that needs correcting).

Read the heel pain book on this website for information and treatment ideas.

Whatever you decide about your Birks, don't go barefoot. Wear good quality shoes with good arch support all the time.

Appropriate non-weight-bearing stretching may help you.

Icing reduces inflammation.

Taping can relieve pain and more importantly support the arch and in doing so rest the fascia.

Come back to us with any questions. You will get a lot of information and support here.

All the best, Julie

Re: I've worn Birks for 15 years and now have heel pain--what's up?

Sean T., C.Ped. on 5/26/01 at 10:55 (048962)

As we age our feet splay out and elongate.This is only intensified with pregnacy. As our feet splay out and elongate the planatarfacia will stretch and sometimes have a micro tear at its insertion to the calcaneus. You would be wise to see your pod. and have them eval. your feet and their needs. Take it easy on your feet. Your body has gone through alot of changes with the births of your children. Make sure to stretch really well before exercising and watch out for intense exercises and they can make things worse. Wearing the Birks for so long probably has helped keep your feet in good condition until now with out the need for orthotics. Now be the time to start wearing custom orthotics. They cost more, but they should match the shape of your foot exactly. Also, as stated on this board over and over again. Start off slow with the orthotics. Wear them one hour the first day and put the factory insole back in the shoe. Increase the wearing of the orthotics by one hour each day. If your feet start hurting while wearing the orthotics look at the mating of the orthotic to the shoe. If it isn't done right (sometimes,depending on the shoe, it can be hard to mate the orthotics the first time) the orthotic will ride up the side of the shoe and put too much pressure on the arch and cause more pain. OUch@#$@#!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ! Have the person that made the orthotics for you adjust them until they get it right. And, last but not least take care of those little ones.

Re: I've worn Birks for 15 years and now have heel pain--what's up?

Valerie S on 5/24/01 at hrmin (048804)

Hi Flora.

I have been wearing Birks for about 10 years, and exclusively for the last 5 or so. Totally cured my ingrown toenails. There doesn't seem to be any shoe as toe-friendly for me...

I have also been working on my feet my entire life (I am 30). About 9 months ago, I started to develop heel pain. So, Birkenstocks alone can't prevent PF. A lot of people find them to be good shoes to wear to help in relieving it though. Different people seem to get relief from different shoes (only makes sense...). I still wear my Birks because my toes hate being squished...but that's me. Hopefully you will find a good solution for YOU.

A couple of questions for you... when did you first start with the symptoms of PF? Did you see a general practioner or a foot specialist? To begin with, I would go the link at the top of the page that says PF Book... print this out and read it. You will find lots of answers and information. RE: 'How long does the average recuperation take??' That's a good one... unfortunately, it could take a long time, especially if you are on your feet a lot. TIME is a big part of the cure, so patience is important. I know it's frustrating with summer coming... there are no easy answers. It's just a matter of finding what solution or combination of treatments works for you.

Good luck to you... and try to remember you are not alone. You will find lots of friends and advice here; this website has been a real lifesaver for me.

Take it easy...Val.

Re: I've worn Birks for 15 years and now have heel pain--what's up?

Julie on 5/25/01 at 03:15 (048843)

Hi Flora

Birks are good, supportive shoes that are unique in that they make the muscles of your feet work as you walk, but that doesn't mean they can protect against all foot-eventualities.

It's possible to wear the same pair for too long, so that the arch wears down. I'm not suggesting that you have, or that that could be the reason for your heel pain, just pointing out the possibility.I have an old pair of Arizonas that this has happened to: the difference when I started a new pair was very marked.

I don't understand thereasoning behind the advice you were given to lay off the Birks 'to keep the tension off the plantar fascia'. I think the Birk arch _does_ keep the tension off the fascia. But I don't know your foot type, and perhaps the Spenco salesman had some good reason for giving you that advice. Perhaps you could get a second opinion on this. I don't think you should lose faith in Birks if they have suited you for all this time.

It seems it's not unusual for women to develop PF after pregnancy and childbirth - we've had several women report on this. It could have something to do with the rapid weight gain and the extra strain on the fascia, but it could also be linked to hormonal changes. I've begun to suspect that it could also be due to postural changes. The weight of the growing baby pulls you forward, and unless this is controlled by strong abdominal muscles, it increases the lower back arch. That in turn can affect/change the way you walk. It can also cause excessive pressure on the intervertebral discs and possibly nerve impingement, which can have a knock-on effect on the feet.

Of course these are just speculations in your case. The point I'm making is that there probably isn't a cause and effect relationship between Birks and your pain!

Now: I should have said this first! Go to a podiatrist and get a full evaluation of your gait, and a proper diagnosis of your heel pain. If you have a biomechanical fault, you may need custom orthotics (though over-the-counter ones do work for many people if there is no biomechanical fault that needs correcting).

Read the heel pain book on this website for information and treatment ideas.

Whatever you decide about your Birks, don't go barefoot. Wear good quality shoes with good arch support all the time.

Appropriate non-weight-bearing stretching may help you.

Icing reduces inflammation.

Taping can relieve pain and more importantly support the arch and in doing so rest the fascia.

Come back to us with any questions. You will get a lot of information and support here.

All the best, Julie

Re: I've worn Birks for 15 years and now have heel pain--what's up?

Sean T., C.Ped. on 5/26/01 at 10:55 (048962)

As we age our feet splay out and elongate.This is only intensified with pregnacy. As our feet splay out and elongate the planatarfacia will stretch and sometimes have a micro tear at its insertion to the calcaneus. You would be wise to see your pod. and have them eval. your feet and their needs. Take it easy on your feet. Your body has gone through alot of changes with the births of your children. Make sure to stretch really well before exercising and watch out for intense exercises and they can make things worse. Wearing the Birks for so long probably has helped keep your feet in good condition until now with out the need for orthotics. Now be the time to start wearing custom orthotics. They cost more, but they should match the shape of your foot exactly. Also, as stated on this board over and over again. Start off slow with the orthotics. Wear them one hour the first day and put the factory insole back in the shoe. Increase the wearing of the orthotics by one hour each day. If your feet start hurting while wearing the orthotics look at the mating of the orthotic to the shoe. If it isn't done right (sometimes,depending on the shoe, it can be hard to mate the orthotics the first time) the orthotic will ride up the side of the shoe and put too much pressure on the arch and cause more pain. OUch@#$@#!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ! Have the person that made the orthotics for you adjust them until they get it right. And, last but not least take care of those little ones.