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Opinions on Birkenstocks

Posted by Angela A. on 3/12/04 at 08:46 (146771)

I'm just curious to see how many of you wear Birkenstocks and also have PF. I'm seriously thinking of trying them out, but wanted some opinions first....good and bad if necessary.

Thanks,

Angela

Re: Opinions on Birkenstocks

marie on 3/12/04 at 11:22 (146787)

I have tts and pf they are they only shoe I can wear. Definatley worth a try.

Re: a good opinion of them

Carole C in NOLA on 3/12/04 at 12:37 (146792)

I had PF and I have (and wear) five pairs of Birkenstocks. Birkenstocks were a major factor in helping me to recover. I would urge you to try them.

Birkenstock sells many kinds of shoes, and some are not appropriate for PF. In the past, the most popular style for PF sufferers was the Arizona, with the Florida and the Boston (clog) each having fans too. So, I would suggest one of these three styles, preferably Arizonas. All of these styles have what Birkenstock calls the 'classic footbed'.

I have been over my PF for a while, and I still keep a pair by my bedside and wear another pair to work about half the time or more.

Carole C

Re: Opinions on Birkenstocks

Necee on 3/12/04 at 14:24 (146799)

I credit Birks for my PF healing. I got almost immediate relief when I put them on. I've tried several methods of therapy, and this is by far the best thing I've ever done.

They are rather expensive, but in my opinion, well worth the money.
If there is a Birks shoe store near you, I'd suggest you go and get fitted, then you can order them online for much less.
Birks come in all styles, they aren't the best looking shoes in the world, but who cares as long as they help your feet.

Good luck, and let us know what you decide.

Necee

Re: Opinions on Birkenstocks

Angela A. on 3/12/04 at 17:41 (146818)

Thanks for the advice. Has anyone tried the high arch footbed?

Re: Opinions on Birkenstocks

Carole C in NOLA on 3/12/04 at 18:20 (146821)

Yes, I have and I like them. However, it is universally considered to be best to start with the classic footbed first since it works best for most people (even for those with high arches). The time to think about other footbeds would be after you have the classic footbed and have broken it in and worn it a while.

Carole C

Re: Opinions on Birkenstocks

Ed Davis, DPM on 3/12/04 at 23:05 (146837)

Angela:
Birks have a lot of support, which is the feature often most needed by PF sufferers. Anytime a shoe is made with a lot of support there will be those for which the support is adequate and in the right place and those where it won't be -- that is the reason people either love them or hate them without too many in the middle.
Ed

Re: a good opinion of them

Suzanne D. on 3/13/04 at 07:29 (146849)

Angela, like Carole, I also have a good opinion of Birkenstock shoes. I never heard about them until I found this site, and they have played a major part in helping my feet heal.

Like Necee, I suggest that if at all possible, you go to a Birkenstock store and get fitted and learn as much as you can about the different styles and types. It seems that with every season, there is a growing number of new styles of Birkenstocks, so it would be of great help for you to try them on.

If you cannot find a store near you, read as much as you can about each type of Birkenstock shoe. A good place to start is http://www.birkenstockexpress.com .

Good luck!
Suzanne :)

Re: Opinions on Birkenstocks

john h on 3/15/04 at 09:52 (147040)

I think a lot of people are like me when I first tried Birks. I wore them one or two days and they hurt and I thought they were terrible. A year later my feet were really hurting so I tried them again for about a week and my feet beccame accustomed to them. Now they are the greatest thing since sliced bread as far as I am concerned. They are indeed an orthotic foot bed. You can actually have them custom made to fit your foot. I think Wendy may have tried this?

Re: Opinions on Birkenstocks

john h on 3/15/04 at 10:01 (147041)

They continue to be about half price on the German web site with free shipping. You can also buy the Bertulas as Sams for $30-$40.

Re: Opinions on Birkenstocks

Angela A. on 3/15/04 at 13:22 (147055)

Thanks to all of you for posting to my question. I appreciate all of the advice I've been given.

Re: Opinions on Birkenstocks

Ed Davis, DPM on 3/15/04 at 20:29 (147085)

John:
I have providing the custom Birks for about 3 1/2 years (remember that I practice in Birk heaven - Seattle area). The orthotic lab making the custom orthotic Birks was Benefoot of NYC. Benefoot was bought out by Langer, a larger lab unfortunately at the expense of quality. We are giving Langer a chance to bring up its quality but other labs have jumped on the custom orthotic sandal bandwagon so a variety of similar products now exist.
Ed

Re: Opinions on Birkenstocks

john h on 3/16/04 at 09:46 (147126)

Ed: My first orthotics were Langer Sportsthotics. They were of the rigid variety. As I recall they were around $350.

Re: Opinions on Birkenstocks

Kathy G on 3/16/04 at 15:19 (147144)

Actually, John, I was the one who got my Birks custom made. Maybe Wendy did, too, but because ordinary Birks hurt the area of my foot where I have a neuroma and because the negative heel is a problem for my back, my Pod thought custom was the way to go.

At first, I hated them and stuck them in my closet. Then, as my feet began to feel better, I dragged them out and now I just love them. See how different feet are? You started to wear them when your feet were terrible; I had to wait until mine felt a little better.

My cobbler claims that he could have done the same thing for me on a pair of regular Birks. He just would have sanded down the toe grip and built up the heels for me. It probably would have come out cheaper.

I have the Floridas and I really like them. I don't wear them in the winter in NH but if we ever see Spring, I'll be wearing them again. I know we'll see Spring, it's just that we're having a Northeaster today and fourteen inches of snow is forecasted for our area. The wind is beginning to whip up and it's only 4PM and it's not supposed to get bad until around 9PM.

My daugher is in San Diego on Spring Break while her father and I are here. I ask you, what is wrong with this picture?:-?

Re: Opinions on Birkenstocks

john h on 3/17/04 at 10:36 (147168)

What did these custom birks cost Kathy? How did they cast or fit your foot for them? Since birk sandals tend to move around I still wonder why they help so many of us. I bet the arch support area moves around as much as an inch as we walk around. Maybe this is the secret? You do not have the constant pressure on the same area as a well fitted shoe that holds your foot in place. I still like the Airizona both soft and regular beds and during the summer wear them to work. I think Wendy wears them in the snow as most of her life is spent in the snow. When I was in Iceland we wore Muk-A-Luks. Wish I had those babies now. The Eskimos had some quaint footware. Your feet would get so cold up there you would not know if you had PF or not.

Re: Opinions on Birkenstocks

john h on 3/17/04 at 10:40 (147170)

Ed: How do you fit custom Birks? Are the beds the same as the regular birks? What kind of feedback do you get from your patients on these?

Re: Got my new Birkenstock catalog today!

Carole C in NOLA on 3/17/04 at 20:13 (147198)

I got my new Birkenstock spring catalog today, and there are some really cute new ones. For one thing, the Arizona now comes in a shiny burgundy leather that actually looks feminine, as well as a bright red leather version and many others. And, there are some attractive new styles, too. I wish that I didn't have five pairs of perfectly good Birkenstocks in my closet! :D

Carole C

Re: Got my new Birkenstock catalog today!

Suzanne D. on 3/18/04 at 11:32 (147214)

I got my catalog, too, Carole! There are some pretty new styles. Unfortunately for me, most of them are stocked through size 42, and I wear a 43. I am so glad that the Annapolis shoe comes in a 43 since I wear my two pairs so often. Many others of that type in the Footprints line are not available in size 43.

Then some of the shoes in the Tatami line - the dressier, more feminine ones - come in 43, but I have tried on two different styles, and they are too short. They say to 'size up' in those styles, so I guess the 43 fits like a 42.

Anyway, I do like looking at the catalog! That pair on the cover is pretty, isn't it?

Suzanne :)

Re: Got my new Birkenstock catalog today!

Carole C in NOLA on 3/18/04 at 12:36 (147222)

It sure is! I also like the Tabora in the new red silky suede, the Scarlet, and all the bright new colors of the Madrid. But they are in sizes that are too small for you.

Did you see all the new colors of Arizona, on page 38? The Arizona is not your favorite looking style, if I remember correctly, but these do look more feminine because of the brighter colors. They might be cute and they come in a 43. Also I like the Iceland in the 'stars and stripes' model which would fit you and would be especially cute on the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, or Veterans Day, on picnics, and so on. Or, maybe some of the new styles that you like better will be available in larger sizes eventually, at the German site. They seem to stock different items than we see in this country.

I am really tempted to get the Catalina, to wear in the shower. My shower shoes self-destructed, and I've been showering barefoot (people reading this need to know, as Suzanne and I do, that showering barefoot is a SERIOUS no-no for PF!!!). Anyway, even though my PF is apparently gone, I would feel safer with shower shoes and these are cute ones! P. 10, the white ones with blue-green footbeds. I will probably buy something a little less expensive, but they sure are cute.

Carole C

Re: Got my new Birkenstock catalog today!

Kathy G on 3/19/04 at 08:36 (147290)

My nephew is getting married in July. We're at that age; this will be the fourth wedding in the family in two years! Each wedding represents the challenge of what to wear to cover my ever-thickening body and what to put on my feet! If I were rich, I'd order the Chelseas with the dragonfly on page 26 and 27. Wouldn't they be neat with a long skirt?

They have come out with some really cute styles, haven't they? I'm toying with the idea of trying a pair of the new Floridas but first I'm going to check with my cobbler and Pod. I don't know if my footbed has all the arches in it that the standard Birk has. I know it doesn't have any 'lumps or ridges' you can see with the naked eye. Maybe my Pod could do a pair of customs with different uppers. Right now, I have brown Floridas because they and the Arizona's were all that he offered.

I thought that the Florida would work out better for someone with very narrow feet. As it is, they had to make extra holes in the straps and they're pulled as tight as possible. Wouldn't it figure? I gain weight everywhere but in my feet!!:((

Re: About my custom Birks, John

Kathy G on 3/19/04 at 08:43 (147291)

I got them about five years ago and they cost $150. I got them in cocoa newbuck. He casted my feet to get the impression. He had them build up the heels slightly so that even though I have the heel cup, the heel itself is higher than on the traditional Birk because the traditional Birk makes my back ache. He said, at the time, that he treats my feet like someone who has arthritis or diabetes. At that time, I just had very sensitive feet. Now, of course, I do have arthritis in them but I didn't back then.

I'm very careful of them. I use suede spray on them every couple of weeks and I seal the cork every year. If they feel good, I want to preserve them for as long as I can.

Re: "window shopping"...

Suzanne D. on 3/19/04 at 23:15 (147368)

Hi, Carole! I finally got time to sit down with my catalog, read your message again, and compare notes. I've found that we must have different catalogs (mine is from Birkenstock Express), because my catalog does not have Arizonas on p.38. I couldn't find the Iceland, but I went online and saw it. It is cute, isn't it?

I got excited when I saw the red Arizonas and Floridas in the soft footbed which I wear. I thought they would look cute with the denim skirts and jumpers which I often wear to school. Then I saw that they are only available in that color through size 42. #-o

Well, like you said, I'll just keep checking the German site, too. I found my Annapolis shoes there in 43 before I saw them here in that size. They also offer the Annapolis in a camel color which I have not seen here. I wear my camel pair often in the spring.

Carole, the Catalina sandals are really cute, and, Kathy, I agree that the Chelsea sure would look sophisticated with a long skirt. I'm glad more styles are being offered each season. The more options, the more chances people have of finding something that works for them.

It was fun 'shopping' with you!
Suzanne :)

Re: "window shopping"...

Carole C in NOLA on 3/20/04 at 07:34 (147377)

Oh, how aggravating! I didn't notice that the red Arizonas and Floridas were limited to smaller sizes. I think they are cute, too. There's one made of smooth white leather that is available up to a 46; but the red would have looked great with your denim skirts.

I threw out my catalog yesterday, so I'm not sure where it was from.

Carole C

Re: "window shopping"...

Kathy G on 3/20/04 at 09:02 (147383)

The Fly Lady would be very proud of you, Carole. I keep my catalogs until the next one comes out. And as for my husband! He keeps catalogs for years on end if I don't go through them and sort out the ancient ones.

Imagine, having the discipline to throw out a catalog shortly after receiving it. Nope, I just couldn't do it!

I need you to help me clean out my daugher's room. Finally, after four and half years at college, she has agreed to let me sort it out and change the room over to an adult guest room, where she can sleep when she comes home and keep a few clothes. As it is now, it's a teenager's room with posters on the walls, etc. I've begun the process but it's daunting because I don't want to throw away anything that she might consider valuable. I'm putting those things into plastic boxes and my husband swears that every time she comes home, she has to go through one box. She saves even more than I do. I even found old notebooks from her freshman year in high school!!

It's interesting that she didn't want me to do this until now. She always said she'd do it when she came home but of course, she never was home long enough to do it. I had to watch that I didn't eliminate her bedroom from home because it obviously was a sort of refuge for her. Now, she apparently has matured enough to be able to leave her childhood room behind. But, oh my, this is quite a job!

Re: "window shopping"...

john h on 3/20/04 at 09:16 (147384)

My wife is a catalog collector. They are everwhere. She has so many she does not know when I throw out a 1999 issue of Lands End. I am just the opposite. I read it and it is immediately history unless it is a referece catalog like Consumers Report.I tend to be a neat freak. Comes from flying I think and being in the Military.

Re: "window shopping"...

Suzanne D. on 3/20/04 at 09:48 (147386)

Carole, I checked the German Birk site this morning, and the Arizona is available in the soft footbed through size 46! It is called 'cherry', and the picture doesn't come up (often there is an x where the picture would be on the German site), but even if it is not the same color red as we saw in our catalogs, I think it would be pretty with denim, don't you?

I am so glad you mentioned the red Arizonas to me because that prompted me to look on the German site to see if they had them. Last summer I ordered from Germany a light tan color in the soft footbed Arizonas which was not available here. This morning I see that they have added red and blue in that shoe. That's nice to know.

For anyone who reads this who may not be aware, Birkenstocks can be ordered from Germany at less than the cost here. I have had very good results ordering from them. There is free land shipping with several weeks wait or air shipping for a fee. Even with the fee for air, the shoes are still cheaper. I don't say this to keep business away from any stores or sites in the US, but it is nice to know the option is available, and also it is helpful to know that harder-to-find sizes are more readily available there as well. Here is the site address for anyone interested:

http://www.gobuyeurope.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv ?

Thanks again, Carole!
Suzanne :)

Re: "window shopping"...

Suzanne D. on 3/20/04 at 09:52 (147387)

What I meant to write was, 'the Arizona is available in RED in the soft footbed through size 46'.

When will I ever proofread BEFORE I post?! #-o

Suzanne :)

Re: "window shopping"...

Suzanne D. on 3/20/04 at 10:04 (147389)

I had the same thoughts about Carole being disciplined enough to toss her catalog so soon! Now maybe I wouldn't let things pile up so much if I was more like that!

Trouble is, about the time I throw something away, I think of a great use for it at school, and so I keep and keep... For the first ten years or so of my teaching, we received very little in the way of money to spend in the classroom. I had very little money myself, so I made most everything. I saved foam meat trays and made learning games for the children. (Draw a beehive and write a math problem on it. Draw a bee with the answer. Make several sets, cut them out and place them in a potato sack - the old kind that was netting - and then let the children dump them out and match the answer to the problem, etc.)

I learned to be a real sleuth for finding things I could use at school. One teacher always brought a gallon-size ziplock with ice cubes to school each morning for her big glass of tea which she kept on her desk. She would walk into the teacher's workroom and toss the bag each morning. I would come behind her and retrieve it from the trash can, take it upstairs and set it in the window to dry. I used them to store games and such and saved myself a lot of money!

Now you can imagine all the 'stuff' I have in my basement! But I am almost completely sorted and organized in plastic tubs, drawers and bins. I have been working steadily since the first of January on this project. I haven't drastically reduced the amount of things - although I have made a big dent - but it is much more organized and protected.

Kathy, my hat's off to you for your project in your daughter's room. I imagine it is somewhat of a walk through time and memories, isn't it?

Have a nice weekend, everyone!
Suzanne :)

Re: Opinions on Birkenstocks

Ed Davis, DPM on 3/20/04 at 18:35 (147419)

Kathy:
The ridge or toe grip you mentioned is not kind to people with neuromas.
The cobbler could have sanded down the ridge (I do so with an x-acto knife) but he could not make the custom footbed that you have. If patients are to buy ready made Birks, we ask them to obtain one of the newer models in which the footbed separates from the sandal. That gives us the opportunity to modify or customize the foot bed, often doing the trick for many. If a higher level of support is needed or an unusual foot shape then one must go custom.

Ed

Re: Opinions on Birkenstocks

Ed Davis, DPM on 3/20/04 at 18:38 (147420)

John:
We take a impression cast of the foot as if we are making a conventional orthotic and add to that, metric measure of foot length and width across the ball. Most patients love them. We have had sizing problems though since Langer took over Benefoot.
Ed

Re: Got my new Birkenstock catalog today!

Ed Davis, DPM on 3/20/04 at 18:42 (147421)

Kathy:
Have you tried the Nebraskas? If the footbed is removable, one can place a 1/4 in. thick or 3/16 in. thick cork insole (made by tracing the footbed on a piece of cork sheeting) and place that insole under the footbed -- it effectively narrows the sandal. This trick can be done with any of the models that have removable insole. Most patients I have done this for state that the sandal feels and fits better with that simple addition.
Ed

Re: "window shopping"...

Ed Davis, DPM on 3/20/04 at 18:46 (147422)

Carole:
It is great to see the Birk people come up with more styles but they may be doing that at the sacrifice of size and width availablity. I take a 46 or 47 and they have hardly any styles in narrow to medium width at that size-- they seem to assume that if one has long feet, they must also be wide.
Ed

Re: "window shopping"...

Carole C in NOLA on 3/21/04 at 14:01 (147471)

That sounds like a monstrous job! I sure don't envy you.

I enjoyed looking through the catalog, but I really don't need any Birkenstocks (even if I want some) so it seemed prudent to throw it out as soon as possible. :)

Carole C

Re: "window shopping"...

Carole C in NOLA on 3/21/04 at 14:03 (147473)

Yes, I think it would be VERY pretty with denim, Suzanne! No matter what color red it is. I'm so glad they are available there in your size. :)

Carole C

Re: Opinions on Birkenstocks

Carlos N. on 3/22/04 at 12:55 (147513)

Carole,

I've been considering Birks in my quest to cure my acute PF. I'm an excessive pronator. I tried the Birks and they definitely feel different. So I have a few questions. How fast did you find relief in your PF after wearing Birks? Was it immediate or gradual? Did you use an arch support or not? What else did you do besides wearing Birks in order to relieve your PF?

I'm in pain everyday and I have tried many things, but I can't seem to make any real progress. I'm desperate.

Thanks,
Carlos N.

Re: Opinions on Birkenstocks

Carole C in NOLA on 3/22/04 at 17:07 (147533)

Carlos, everyone's feet are a little different so my answers to your questions might be different from what you experience. But, I'd be glad to answer them. Maybe it will help (and I hope it does).

I got my first Birkenstocks (the Florida model) the day that my PF was diagnosed. I broke them in very gradually, only wearing them for an hour or two the first day and increasing the time by an hour or so each day until they were broken in. They helped right from the start, but I was still in considerable pain!! After two weeks I got custom semi-rigid orthotics, which helped a lot too. My C.Ped said to wear the custom orthotics to work, and to wear the Birkenstocks the rest of the day, so that is what I did.

I tried an arch support and it didn't work for me at all. Here's what worked for me:

1. Rest. I rested my feet to the extreme. For a month or two I didn't do housework, ate food from the Wendy's drive-through, and didn't run any errands. I went to my desk job at work, and came home. At home I didn't get up except to use the bathroom, and finally to go to bed. VERY boring and hard, to rest this much. But for me, rest is what helped the most.

2. After a while I figured out that I should never stand or take a step barefoot. I always wore my Birkenstocks or custom orthotics, except in the shower where I had a shower stool and shower shoes.

3. Gentle stretching several times a day, and always before getting out of bed. My C.Ped told me to sit on a flat surface, like a bed, with both legs straight out in front of me and ankles about two feet apart or so. Then point the toes of one foot towards my nose (upwards and inwards), hold for a few seconds (work up to 30 seconds), and relax, rotating my foot on my ankle to relax the muscles. Then do the same with the other foot, and repeat. But I didn't do anything that would cause pain; if it hurts, point the toes more gently.

Once you get used to the above method of gentle stretching, you can do your best to gently stretch a little before standing, if you have been sitting in a chair for a long time.

4. Icing. I try not to every overdo, but if I fail then I put my feet on a bag of frozen peas (which conform to the shape of the foot) after overdoing.

I think that's about it. For me, it worked best to do LESS than I thought I could do, rather than more. That way I avoided set-backs. Once I stopped having set-backs, my feet began to heal better. Never do anything that causes more PF pain.

Also, patience is very important. It takes a long time for feet to heal. I got PF in September, 2001, and was not pain free until June, 2002. Then I overdid it and got a second case of PF, which was milder but lasted longer. Now, I am done with the second case of PF. I am still cautious about some things. I wear high quality shoes, and I pay attention to how my feet feel so that I can avoid any twinges of PF pain.

I am now able to walk a mile or two, and to ride my exercycle about 3 miles every day. That is more than I did before PF, so I am happy at this level of physical exertion.

I hope this helps you, or someone reading it. PF is such a horrible nightmare. It is possible for most peoples' feet to heal, though.

Carole C

Re: Opinions on Birkenstocks

Carlos N. on 3/23/04 at 10:18 (147604)

Carole,

Thanks for the tips!

Re: Opinions on Birkenstocks

Carole C in NOLA on 3/23/04 at 20:59 (147645)

Carlos,

You're welcome, and I hope that your feet become pain free!

Carole C