Pseudo-Review- Birkenstock And The Happy Foot

Note on the pics. The Birkenstock shoe (left foot) is still in what I consider to be its break-in period. They’re only about ten days old. Note the suede sole footbed insert. The sandal (right foot) is broke-in and is probably four months old. The only issue I’m facing with the sandals is that I’ve run out of holes for tightening the straps as the leather has stretched a bit. The ladies at the Birkenstock store said it’s easy to add another hole or two. Good news, eh. Tip to break-in the sandals: after shower wear them with undried, wet feet.

Been having foot trouble, don’t you know, dear worst-reader. Yeah, it’s been going on for years. The origin of this trouble has been mostly due to weight and a screwed-up left achilles. It might be also attributable to the side-ways goings and comings I experience after a bottle or three of wine. But that’s neither here nor there. My foot trouble has caused me to favour one foot over the other and, who knows, might even lead to that hip replacement a few years down the road. Oh yeah. I’m having hip trouble now, too. Nomatter.

According to those in the know, the (real) problem with my feet might be the so-called cheap-o factor. How could anyone have guessed that for the last ten or so years I’ve been flying to the US, not only to visit my ageing mother, but to purchase cheap sneakers at a Rehoboth, DE, outlet mall. If you’re not in the know, dear worst-reader, get this: those outlet malls in DE are not only cheap but they are also friggin’ tax free. Which can only mean, for worst-writer, I guess, cheapness has contributed to my feet trouble. On the other hand, the Nike Free shoes I’ve favoured for the past few years, you know, the ones with the extremely flexible souls (that collect so many little rocks in the cracks) have been the only shoes I can wear for any extended period of time. You know, when walking around Paris for three days and worst-stuff like that. In fact. I haven’t been able to wear real shoes (leather and/or dress shoes) for years. They’re just too painful. If I have to wear fancy-pants real shoes, say for a special event, I plan it so that I can get out of them ASAP. In fact, until recently, I only had one pair of fancy pants real shoes. Indeed. And so. A nice new pair of Nike Free 5.0s in black go well with a suit, don’t you know. On the other hand, even when not in Paris, I take lots of walks, especially with Beckett the killer pug, and I wear out those Nikes quickly. I can easily wear out a pair of Nikes in six months. That also means the soft and un-supporting worn out footbeds end up hurting my feet even more–if not actually doing more damage. But I’m off subject.

After complaining to my better-half again and again about my feet, she suggested two things. First, change shoe brand and/or change shoe sole. Second, maybe it was time I stopped cheaping-out on shoes. She then recommended we go with what she’s been alluding to for some time: let’s try Birkenstock. She added that she’s been reading-up on the issue and that we’ve probably reached the age where it is time for a bit more foot-love.

“Birkenstock? Really?” I questioned.
“Sure. Why not?”
“Not sure I’m ready for the ultimate in Germanin preppy foot wear,” I added.
“You’re more German than all of us,” she said. “Plus, they’re perfectly engineered shoes.”
“Perfectly over-engineered,” I added.

Within three days I was wearing new Birkenstock sandals around the house. As of the writing of this worst-post, I’ve been wearing those sandals everyday, all day, for the last three months only removing them when I nap, sleep or bathe. And although the break-in period with the soles was a bit trying, after about a week of both foot pain and lower leg pain–seriously, the footbed of the sandals effect the muscles in the leg below the knee– something was clicking with these shoes. Soon I was telling my wife that my feet haven’t felt this good in years–especially considering that the last three places we’ve lived all had hardwood floors–where I’ve been unable to walk barefoot but also had never found a pair of comfortable house shoes as the wife would never agree to thick shag-carpet.

By-the-buy, I did have a pair of Crocs for a few years but I hated them from the get-go. More on that here. In fact, I’m now convinced that the reason I wore Crocs was (1) I was too lazy to get informed about my aching feet and (2) they seemed like an alternative to wearing stuff that made me look… old (but on that I could be wrong).

Long pseudo-review short, although I do remember trying Birkenstock shoes back in the late 1980s, where they just didn’t work for my feet, it seems that now there is nothing else I’d rather wear. And so. On the success of the house shoes, i.e. sandals, I’ve since really splurged and bought a pair of Birkenstock (real) shoes. The break-in period for these seems to be a bit longer than the sandals but I can say that so-far they’ve not disappointed. The shoes, by-the-buy, have the traditional footbed as an insert. I was skeptical at first if going with an insert was the right thing to do but after the first week of break-in I’m now good with it.

Just like the sandals, the footbed, it’s shape and it’s composition, is the secret to Birkenstock. If you recall, I have a protruding left achilles. That means that for most of my adult life, I’ve never been able to wear a shoe size that matches my actual foot size. The work-around for worst-moi has always been to wear shoes, depending on the brand, that are at least one size too big. I simply need the extra space for my achilles at the heel of my left foot. Either that or I suffer severe blistering. Although I have to buy the same over-size with Birkenstocks, the fact that the footbed eventually fits to my foot, is a godsend. No longer do I have to deal with my feet moving around in shoes because they are a size or size-and-a-half too big. The cork and synthetic composite structure of the footbed eventually fits (moulds?) to my foot. It’s brilliant. Why the hell didn’t I think of this fifteen or so years ago. Oh yeah. Cause I’m a cheap-o!

While I’m worst-writing about expensive $hit, the negative here is that due to all the walking I do, I don’t think the shoes are gonna last very long. As you can see in the pics above, there’s not much rubber where shoe meets ground. On the other hand, if/when I do wear out the soles, in a half year or so, the shoes are probably structurally worn out anywho. Now I’m wondering if I’ll be able to replace the sole. Also. As you’ll note from their webpage or any retailer that sells them, this level of needed comfort for those of us with foot troubles galore, means that these shoes ain’t cheap. Since my better-half approved of the purchase, all is good. The only question is, I’m now so sold on Birkenstock as my consume-to-survive go-to foot wear, there are at least two other pairs I’d also like to own. I’m thinking I’ll go with another pair of shoes without the inserts. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Time to save up the doe, baby. In a few months fancy-pants-shoes version 3.0.

Rant (and walk comfortably) on.

-T

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