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How to Break in Birkenstocks

Birkenstocks are a great choice for keeping your feet comfortable when you want to wear sandals, but do require a period of breaking in before you can really get the full comfort potential out of them. Slowly increasing the amount of time you wear them each day will break them in, while making any adjustments or physical changes to the sandals to better fit your feet will ensure they’re comfortable as you do. All this will soon earn you some incredibly supportive footwear you can walk in for as long as you’d like.

EditSteps

EditWearing New Birkenstocks

  1. Walk in them for only 30-45 minutes on the first day. Going longer can put more strain on your feet before the cork material of the Birkenstock’s footbed has shaped to them. If they start hurting before 30 minutes is up, take them off anyway.[1]
    Break in Birkenstocks Step 1.jpg
    • Wearing socks may help ease the stiffness of walking in them the first couple times, and then start to transition to going barefoot.
  2. Wear your Birkenstocks for 1-2 hours daily for the next few weeks. Walking in them each day will allow the footbed to loosen up and better shape to your individual foot. If you can, try to increase the length of time you walk in them each day to speed up the process.[2]
    Break in Birkenstocks Step 2.jpg
    • Follow this method to make sure your Birkenstocks are well and truly comfy to use prior to taking long walks in them. This is especially important if you’re planning a vacation involving lots of walking.
  3. Look for your foot’s impression in the footbed to see if they’re breaking in. As you wear them, you should begin to notice an outline of each of your feet in the Birkenstocks growing darker. This is showing how they’re becoming better formed to the shape of your feet each time you wear them.[3]
    Break in Birkenstocks Step 3.jpg
    • Committing to consistently walking in them at first is the only surefire method for making them more comfortable to wear.

EditMaking Adjustments to Your Birkenstocks

  1. Flex the shoe gently to soften up the footbed when first getting them. Birkenstocks may initially feel very stiff when first taking them out the box. Use your hands to bend the shoe back and forth in both directions, then grab the front and back to twist them in opposite directions at the same time.[4]
    Break in Birkenstocks Step 4.jpg
    • You can also roll it against the floor or bend it against a heavy piece of furniture for the same effect.
  2. Hammer down uncomfortable parts of the footbed to soften them up. The toe bar is often where people complain their Birkenstocks are too stiff or uncomfortable. Take a small mallet and carefully but firmly tamp down on the footbed to loosen up the cork where it’s bothering you. Give it several hits, pressing the footbed with your fingers to test how soft you’re making it, and keep going until you feel it’ll be easier for it to form to the shape of your foot.[5]
    Break in Birkenstocks Step 5.jpg
    • Try not to hammer too much, or you might weaken the supporting nature of the footbed.
  3. Add extra holes to the straps to make it looser or tighter on your foot. If you’re finding that the sandal isn’t able to be fit to the shape of your foot, adding an extra hole to the strap may help in securing your foot better, and adding a degree of comfort when you walk.[6]
    Break in Birkenstocks Step 6.jpg
    • You can heat up a pin or screw to pierce through the leather to make a new hole in the strap. Then work the buckle’s prong through the hole to widen it and make it easier to use.
  4. Sand down any uncomfortable parts of the Birkenstocks’ straps. If there’s a section of the strap that’s uncomfortable when it rubs against the top of your foot or chafes it when you walk, sandpaper can help. Using a fine grit paper, rub down any problem areas on the underside of the strap to make the contact points more comfortable.[7]
    Break in Birkenstocks Step 7.jpg
    • Be careful not to sand them too much, or you may end up making them more uncomfortable or damaging the shoe.

EditFitting Your Birkenstocks Properly

  1. Place your foot in the completely unbuckled sandal. Line up the arches and contours of your own foot with the ones built into the Birkenstocks, and let the toe bar rest underneath all your toes (where they connect with your foot). Rest your heel so it fits comfortably into the cup at the back.[8]
    Break in Birkenstocks Step 8.jpg
    • Neither your heel or toes should be extending beyond the length of the footbed. Grab a larger size in this case.
  2. Align your heel and toes to the edge of the sandal. Make sure you have enough clearance around the perimeter of your foot, about a of space for your heels and toes, and an a for the sides of your feet.[9]
    Break in Birkenstocks Step 9.jpg
    • You’ll want to leave yourself a little bit of room for your foot to move around in the Birkenstocks while you’re walking around.
  3. Tighten the straps so you can fit one finger underneath. With your foot properly aligned with the footbed, begin strapping up the sandals. When you go to tighten the buckle, adjust it so your foot is secured snuggly, but not too tight. You can test this by seeing if you can still wiggle a finger under the strap at your ankle.[10]
    Break in Birkenstocks Step 10.jpg
    • Support from the sandal will come from your foot resting properly on the footbed, not from how tight the straps are.
  4. Readjust the straps while walking if you still feel discomfort. Although you may have adjusted properly while at home, while out walking the natural movement of your foot may have it rubbing against the sandal uncomfortably. If something is bothering you, a strap on the sandal, such as the ones going over the top of your foot or your toes, may not be properly tight or loose enough. Make any of these changes while you’re walking so they’ll be ready for the next time.
    Break in Birkenstocks Step 11.jpg
    • You may need to fasten the straps differently between your feet depending on their shape or size.[11]

EditTips

  • Comfort comes with a proper fit, and Birkenstocks do run true to size. They have two major fits to accommodate people with narrow and wider feet, so make sure you’re picking up a pair that will fit you for maximum comfort and support. A sizing guide can be found here: https://www.birkenstock.com/us/us-service-fittingguide.html.
  • Order the soft footbed if you’ll be walking in them for long distances. Birkenstocks makes a model of sandal with an extra layer of cushioning foam to make it all the more comfortable to use the sandals for long periods. Get the soft footbeds if you’ll be using these as your main piece of footwear, or if you need them for walking while on vacation. [12]

EditWarnings

  • Avoid exposing your Birkenstocks to rain and other moisture, as it can degrade the quality of the footbed, leading it to feel more uncomfortable over time.

EditSources and Citations


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