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OK, so I tried the Birkenstocks, and now they're for sale

Posted by elliott on 8/10/01 at 10:23 (056167)

You may recall that other than a pair of leather boots (which can get kinda hot when it's 104 outside), I can't wear any shoes at all due to TTS nerve irritation in my left ankle (sadly, this foot is post-op). I recently got 'blasted' here for walking around in socks or barefoot given that my right foot might have PF, among other things (sadly, this foot too is post-op) and was 'bludgeoned' into trying Birkenstocks. (Note: the words in quotes are hyperbole intended at humor, something I feel there's not enough of here amidst all this pain and suffering. I really do appreciate the advice and shoe recommendations, even if they don't work; my problems are somewhat unique, to say the least, and I have to try. No blame in what follows.)

Well, I decided to order the Birkenstock Atlanta after many here raved about it. You all may be interested to know that Sierra Trading Post (sierratradingpost.com) has them (along with the Milano) at great discount, $59.95. In case any of you are interested (they have mainly the black-strapped color for the Atlanta, which is actually what I wanted so as to blend in with my black socks), here's the direct link, if it works (just drag copy the whole thing and paste into address area; it worked for me--if not, go through the main web site to Footwear and then Sandals):

http://www.sierratradingpost.com/product.asp?base%5Fno=62514&str%5Fbase%5Fno=60049%2C60071%2C60172%2C60174%2C60181%2C62209%2C62237%2C62246%2C62258%2C62268%2C62514%2C62515%2C62518%2C62521%2C62666%2C62669%2C62676%2C62678%2C62679%2C62680%2C&header%5Ftitle=Footwear%2DSandals&page%5Fname=prod%5Flist%5Fdisplay%2Easp&search%5Ftype=L2%7E351&size1=&size2=&gender=0&ShowImages=yes&sq=0&cont=1&intPgNo=1&mscssid=TPGQ9J1NAESR2GQA0G0KN0SFNHR97NR7

I'm an 11.5. According to the stats in Sierra Trading Post's catalog, 44 is for 11-11.5 and 45 is for 12-12.5. After polling all of you and seeing you all sized down, I ordered the 44. It arrived, I tried it on, and while my right heel felt somewhat better almost instantly (it's magic!), it felt too tight around the heel and my toes went over the lip (clearly too small), so I exchanged them for the 45, which definitely is the right size. (Unlike the Birkenstock experience of many of you, returns to this place are no hassle at all.) The Birkenstock site itself I believe gave 11 for the 44 and 12 for the 45, which I'd say is quite accurate (there's no half size at this length).

Wore it for a quite a bit around the house last night. They are indeed well-built, but there are problems for me. Despite the Atlanta being worn by some of the flat-footed members of this forum, the last seems to be better for those with higher arches; in particular, the toes of my straight flattish feet seem to go too much to the lateral side of the Atlanta's forefoot, whereas a higher-arched foot would better follow the forefoot curve. This alone I could've lived with. Then there's those bumps. I was prepared to give this a while to get used to. While my whole life I usually never buy shoes with a bump at the arch because it cuts into the arch and hurts it, amazingly, the bumps at the arch didn't hurt the same way as other shoes, and the bumps at the metatarsals I could get used to. BUT, whether it's the bumps or the arch support (it's not the straps), my left foot is getting more nerve irritation, I think due to pressure at the arch pushing tissue or vein which in turn is pushing into the medial plantar nerve just below and in front of the medial ankle, the place of my continued discomfort, and my right foot, which for a while was very near complete and utter collapse post-op, immediately started returning in that direction. For me this is not an issue of giving it time to grow into it; I know my shoes (I have a whole stack I can't wear), and if I continue much longer I will be crippled in my right foot and in agony in my left foot. I am still suffering this morning in both feet from the after-effects of last night. Because I punched an extra hole in the strap due to my narrow instep (I did a professional job with a professional puncher and it looks like just another hole), I am reluctant to try and return them (I have a very good rapport with this company, as they often have shoes on discount, and I have to keep on trying shoes). In addition, I think my wife threw out the original box (and will do same to me when she finds out another shoe bites the dust). So if anyone wants a sweetheart of a deal (how's $40 + shipping sound?) on size 45 black Birkenstock Atlantas worn for only part of one day indoors, please let me know.

As recommended by someone here, I also drove (ever so far :-)) to the Walking Company, but other than the Atlanta, the only other appropriate thing in stock they had was I think a Mephisto, which the knowledgeable salesman said would be a better try given its flat sole, but it didn't seem to offer the medial support I need, and also the sandal slipped forward as I walked despite the salesman punching extra holes in them to tighten them.

I desperately took out a pair of clogs (they're men's, honest, please trust me, from Florsheims) from my shoe stockpile to use at work. They have a strap that can be pushed from back and forth from heel onto top of shoe to make it like a slipper. They're not perfect (even these irritate left foot slightly, a bit more so with strap down, and not enough medial heel support for right foot), but are otherwise cushioned and comfortable, and, if not in the mood to wear my boots, can be used for short trips, i.e. going to meetings or to the bathroom, after which I take them off.

If anyone has any other footwear suggestions, please post. Thanks.

Re: OK, so I tried the Birkenstocks, and now they're for sale

ellen w on 8/10/01 at 13:35 (056192)

Elliot,
Maybe you should check out some of the shoes made for individuals with diabetic feet. See http://www.phc-online.com/diabetic_shoes.htm (many of these are truly un-aesthetic, but maybe they would work for you. Plus, if you got a prescription for them, perhaps your insurance co. would pay for them, or at least they'd be tax-deductible.
ellen

Re: OK, so I tried the Birkenstocks, and now they're for sale

M. Wilson on 8/10/01 at 15:27 (056210)

It seems to me that trying the Birks were not a total waste as it did seem to alleviate some of your heel pain. Perhaps you might be better served if you went to a store & tried on several different Birks. Perhaps another style might still alleviate the heel pain, but not give you nerve irritation. I too am extremely flatfooted & I was not too sure the Birks would work for me. The heel pain was immediately improved, but the arch was so high it was giving me blisters. I stuck w/it for a few days & 'toughened up' the arch area so I don't blister anymore. I've worn these all day every day since June 30. My husband is wondering what I'll do in winter. Buy more birks I told him. Good luck in your search.

Re: OK, so I tried the Birkenstocks, and now they're for sale

Lisa S. on 8/10/01 at 18:14 (056234)

Hi M. Wilson...I loved your response about buying more birks in the winter!!! I am a teacher and only wore my birks when I got home from school and on the weekends. During this past spring break I wore them all day every day of the vacation. It was then I felt I reached a turning point in the pain I was suffering from heel spurs and PF. My feet feel so much better now. Instead of trying to find a pair of shoes to go with an outfit, I have to find outfits to go with my birks!!

Re: OK, so I tried the Birkenstocks, and now they're for sale

Ed Davis, DPM on 8/10/01 at hrmin (056248)

Birks are good shoes. They have a lot of hills and valleys. If the hills and valleys on the Birks match your feet, you will like them.

Custom orthotic Birks are one way to get people into Birks who normally would not tolerate them.
Ed

Re: M.Wilson and Lisa S

Donna M on 8/11/01 at 00:04 (056273)

Hi M Wilson and Lisa S, I also wear sandels now, but I also have clogs I wear and they will also be great for winter! (And with socks :)) There are also lots of different kinds of Birks that will be good for winter!! Go check out the German site and go wild~~cause they are cheap!!!
Just thought I'd tell y'all that so you won't freeze your little toes off this winter!! lol
Donna

Re: OK, so I tried the Birkenstocks, and now they're for sale

Lisa C on 8/11/01 at 02:11 (056282)

My local store offered to heat up the Birkenstock and 'flatten' down one of the bumps that was bothering me. Could you take yours to a shoe repair & they might be able to smooth down the arches & trouble spots?

Re: OK, so I tried the Birkenstocks, and now they're for sale

BrianG on 8/11/01 at 08:01 (056292)

Before you get rid of them, or toss them aside, why not try them for about a half an hour a day. It just might take your feet a little longr to break them in. After a week, you could try 3/4 of an hour for another week. Just a thought. I love my Arizonas, but them again I have different problems. Good luck.

BCG

Re: OK, so I tried the Birkenstocks, and now they're for sale

Nancy N on 8/11/01 at 08:19 (056295)

Elliott--

I had an idea about your Birks this morning. My pedorthist also does Birk repair, and has told me that if I buy Birks and the support is not right, he can try to modify them for me. You might want to see if there's a pedorthist in your area who would be willing/able to modify them for you. There would probably be a charge of some sort, probably not huge but I couldn't say for sure, but you might still be able to get these to work for you.

I would have a long chat with the pedorthist first to be sure that he understands the problem you're having, and feels confident that he can fix it (and that you feel confident in what he's telling you!).

I've also been told that it takes about two weeks to break in a new pair of Birks--and while I know you don't want to risk worsening your condition, it could be that the Birks will be OK for you once you've broken them in. The 30-minutes-per-day idea might work for you, if you can tolerate them (though the break-in period would probably be longer that way).

I'm not trying to sway you one way or another, but I did want to let you know that there may be other options for the Arizonas you already have.

Re: OK, so I tried the Birkenstocks, and now they're for sale

john h on 8/11/01 at 09:46 (056302)

when i bought my first pair of airizona birks i tried them a couple of times and put them in the closet for over a year. for some reason (pain i think) i dragged them out over a year later. for about 5 years now i wear them about 75% of the time and are perhaps the best relief i get from pf. i realize they are not for everyone but make sure you give them a fair test.

Re: OK, so I tried the Birkenstocks, and now they're for sale

Kathy G on 8/11/01 at 10:44 (056310)

Elliott,

As I mentioned in a prior posting, the cobbler in our area, will modify Birks to accommodate foot problems. He told me that he frequently has to grind down the 'bump' where the toes are and make other modifications as well. Check your yellow pages or with your podiatrist to see if there is a reputable cobbler in your area. I know it's a dying profession but there are still some around. As to breaking in your Birks, on the advice of my doctor, I started wearing mine for 15 minutes a day, then 20, etc. Yes, it sound ridiculous but if you have sensitive feet with multiple problems, it may be the way for you to go. For me, and my Birks are custom, I still can only wear them a couple of hours before they aggravate my feet. As a female, they are so much more appealing to me than wearing stupid running shoes with everything, so I sure would like to get so that I could wear them more often. As with everything dealing with foot problems, patience seems to be the key. Good luck!!!

Re: OK, so I tried the Birkenstocks, and now they're for sale

john h on 8/11/01 at 13:21 (056328)

dr davis: since a birk fits very loosely on your foot (espically the airizona) your foot is never in the same spot because as you walk your foot tends to slide around in the sandal. i have often thought that because my foot is not held in a rigid position as in a regular shoe with an orthotic, that may be some of the success associated with the birk. this is just a passing thought as i do not get nearly the relief with a custom orthotic in any shoe as i do with a loose fitting off the shelf birk.

Re: OK, so I tried the Birkenstocks, and now they're for sale

ellen w on 8/10/01 at 13:35 (056192)

Elliot,
Maybe you should check out some of the shoes made for individuals with diabetic feet. See http://www.phc-online.com/diabetic_shoes.htm (many of these are truly un-aesthetic, but maybe they would work for you. Plus, if you got a prescription for them, perhaps your insurance co. would pay for them, or at least they'd be tax-deductible.
ellen

Re: OK, so I tried the Birkenstocks, and now they're for sale

M. Wilson on 8/10/01 at 15:27 (056210)

It seems to me that trying the Birks were not a total waste as it did seem to alleviate some of your heel pain. Perhaps you might be better served if you went to a store & tried on several different Birks. Perhaps another style might still alleviate the heel pain, but not give you nerve irritation. I too am extremely flatfooted & I was not too sure the Birks would work for me. The heel pain was immediately improved, but the arch was so high it was giving me blisters. I stuck w/it for a few days & 'toughened up' the arch area so I don't blister anymore. I've worn these all day every day since June 30. My husband is wondering what I'll do in winter. Buy more birks I told him. Good luck in your search.

Re: OK, so I tried the Birkenstocks, and now they're for sale

Lisa S. on 8/10/01 at 18:14 (056234)

Hi M. Wilson...I loved your response about buying more birks in the winter!!! I am a teacher and only wore my birks when I got home from school and on the weekends. During this past spring break I wore them all day every day of the vacation. It was then I felt I reached a turning point in the pain I was suffering from heel spurs and PF. My feet feel so much better now. Instead of trying to find a pair of shoes to go with an outfit, I have to find outfits to go with my birks!!

Re: OK, so I tried the Birkenstocks, and now they're for sale

Ed Davis, DPM on 8/10/01 at hrmin (056248)

Birks are good shoes. They have a lot of hills and valleys. If the hills and valleys on the Birks match your feet, you will like them.

Custom orthotic Birks are one way to get people into Birks who normally would not tolerate them.
Ed

Re: M.Wilson and Lisa S

Donna M on 8/11/01 at 00:04 (056273)

Hi M Wilson and Lisa S, I also wear sandels now, but I also have clogs I wear and they will also be great for winter! (And with socks :)) There are also lots of different kinds of Birks that will be good for winter!! Go check out the German site and go wild~~cause they are cheap!!!
Just thought I'd tell y'all that so you won't freeze your little toes off this winter!! lol
Donna

Re: OK, so I tried the Birkenstocks, and now they're for sale

Lisa C on 8/11/01 at 02:11 (056282)

My local store offered to heat up the Birkenstock and 'flatten' down one of the bumps that was bothering me. Could you take yours to a shoe repair & they might be able to smooth down the arches & trouble spots?

Re: OK, so I tried the Birkenstocks, and now they're for sale

BrianG on 8/11/01 at 08:01 (056292)

Before you get rid of them, or toss them aside, why not try them for about a half an hour a day. It just might take your feet a little longr to break them in. After a week, you could try 3/4 of an hour for another week. Just a thought. I love my Arizonas, but them again I have different problems. Good luck.

BCG

Re: OK, so I tried the Birkenstocks, and now they're for sale

Nancy N on 8/11/01 at 08:19 (056295)

Elliott--

I had an idea about your Birks this morning. My pedorthist also does Birk repair, and has told me that if I buy Birks and the support is not right, he can try to modify them for me. You might want to see if there's a pedorthist in your area who would be willing/able to modify them for you. There would probably be a charge of some sort, probably not huge but I couldn't say for sure, but you might still be able to get these to work for you.

I would have a long chat with the pedorthist first to be sure that he understands the problem you're having, and feels confident that he can fix it (and that you feel confident in what he's telling you!).

I've also been told that it takes about two weeks to break in a new pair of Birks--and while I know you don't want to risk worsening your condition, it could be that the Birks will be OK for you once you've broken them in. The 30-minutes-per-day idea might work for you, if you can tolerate them (though the break-in period would probably be longer that way).

I'm not trying to sway you one way or another, but I did want to let you know that there may be other options for the Arizonas you already have.

Re: OK, so I tried the Birkenstocks, and now they're for sale

john h on 8/11/01 at 09:46 (056302)

when i bought my first pair of airizona birks i tried them a couple of times and put them in the closet for over a year. for some reason (pain i think) i dragged them out over a year later. for about 5 years now i wear them about 75% of the time and are perhaps the best relief i get from pf. i realize they are not for everyone but make sure you give them a fair test.

Re: OK, so I tried the Birkenstocks, and now they're for sale

Kathy G on 8/11/01 at 10:44 (056310)

Elliott,

As I mentioned in a prior posting, the cobbler in our area, will modify Birks to accommodate foot problems. He told me that he frequently has to grind down the 'bump' where the toes are and make other modifications as well. Check your yellow pages or with your podiatrist to see if there is a reputable cobbler in your area. I know it's a dying profession but there are still some around. As to breaking in your Birks, on the advice of my doctor, I started wearing mine for 15 minutes a day, then 20, etc. Yes, it sound ridiculous but if you have sensitive feet with multiple problems, it may be the way for you to go. For me, and my Birks are custom, I still can only wear them a couple of hours before they aggravate my feet. As a female, they are so much more appealing to me than wearing stupid running shoes with everything, so I sure would like to get so that I could wear them more often. As with everything dealing with foot problems, patience seems to be the key. Good luck!!!

Re: OK, so I tried the Birkenstocks, and now they're for sale

john h on 8/11/01 at 13:21 (056328)

dr davis: since a birk fits very loosely on your foot (espically the airizona) your foot is never in the same spot because as you walk your foot tends to slide around in the sandal. i have often thought that because my foot is not held in a rigid position as in a regular shoe with an orthotic, that may be some of the success associated with the birk. this is just a passing thought as i do not get nearly the relief with a custom orthotic in any shoe as i do with a loose fitting off the shelf birk.