What are the best shoes for an outdoor activity?
“Summertime and the living is easy!”. It's time again for us to get outside more and explore the world. We have been cooped up for, it seems like years.
It’s also that time of year when we put away our winter boots and shoes and trade them for runners and flip-flops. It’s also a time many of us will start to experience problems with our feet. Plantar fasciitis, Metatarsalgia, and various other Knee pain and back problems.
Why you ask? Well, I will tell you... It's because of the seasonal change in footwear; We are trading in our more supportive shoes and boots for something that if not chosen carefully offers little if any support. Problems tend to occur weeks after this change, as inflammation from subtle biomechanical changes in the functioning of the lower limb develops. For those with arthritis in the family, it can be even worse as less supportive shoes may exacerbate symptoms.
A great deal of support from a shoe comes from the heel counter, that cup that grips your heel and helps to hold it in place over any support offered by the insole of the shoe. In a sandal, there is no heel counter so there is naturally less support for your feet. Slingback sandals offer little more than emotional support as they function only to hold the sandal in place while you walk and this is only if you have this trouble. People with flat feet will usually experience this issue. Some form of adjustable closure is always advisable as well unless you prefer a thong style.
There are several brands of sandals that focus more on support and foot health. Even in the case of Arthritis, the type of shoes one wears could significantly reduce pain in the feet, knees ad hips.
We carry the “Finn Comfort” Line. They all have a great removable cork composite insole. The great thing about these insoles is that they can be easily modified (by someone who knows what they’re doing), to make them more suitable for an individual’s foot. They can also be replaced, instead of replacing the whole sandal next year.
Birkenstock is another good brand to consider, all their sandals have the same footbed construction and it’s the uppers that vary for style and comfort, and fit. Essentially, they act to secure the footbed in place and, even though they don't grab the foot that well for active walking, they do have a great deep heel cup, arch support, and metatarsal support. You might choose among multiple models; Arizona, Boston, Florida, Mayari, Gizeh, and more. (See below for more details about Birkenstock sandals)
The “Vionic” line of sandals offers great support as well with some models being, “beach-friendly”, so you don’t need to worry if they get a little wet. They have dressier models with great adjustable closures. Then there are the “Oofos” completely waterproof sandals, with good support and a slight rocker bottom. They are made from softer plastic that cushions the feet well. A great recovery shoe for after a hard workout.
If you want, or need help, we will always be there to educate you and help you make proper footwear choices
So, remember when the warm weather hits, to think ahead. Keep your feet properly supported and they won’t be yelling at you in a few weeks.
What they are?
Arizona, Boston, Florida, Mayari, Gizeh, and more.
They all have the same footbed construction, essentially, it’s the uppers that vary for style and comfort, and fit. Essentially, they act to secure the footbed in place. Differing strap configurations work differently with different feet. The footbed won’t work well unless they stay under your feet so that’s where the uppers come in.
Some models have narrow sizes, some have extra padding. Birkenstock sandals are essentially a cork composite footbed designed to correspond to the anatomy of the foot. Much in the same way a custom orthotic works however more generically.
Birkenstock sandals can be effective at helping with many foot issues such as metatarsalgia, plantar fasciitis, and Morton’s neuroma. They can also be effective in ankle knee and lower back pain.
How they Help?
Anatomically and biomechanically the foot is arguably the most complicated structure of the human body. With 26 bones 33 joints and over one hundred muscle ligaments and tendons it is naturally more susceptible to problems.
Birkenstocks ensure that the foot functions in a biomechanically accurate way which reduces the stresses on the anatomical structures of the foot.
What size do you buy?
As with all footwear, size does not matter. It’s the fit that matters. Few realize that sizing is not standardized in the footwear industry. Sizes differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, from style to style and person to person.
Having said this how do you choose the right fit of Birks for you?
To ensure the best fit, the upper should be un-done and the foot placed on the footbed while standing. That’s important because the foot will change shape while weight-bearing, it will get longer and spread.
The foot should be placed centered, directly over the arch support of the footbed. You may need to wiggle around a little to make sure it’s comfortable. With this done there should be an equal spacing of about an eighth of an inch at the heel and toes.
You then need to fasten the uppers so they hold the foot firmly to the footbed and walk. If the heel comes down into contact with the footbed or the toes slide too far forward and press against the front when walking consider a larger size.
Breaking in your Birkenstocks
(Sorry this is technical.)
Depending on your foot structure and gait, the footbeds can at first seem hard and unforgiving. Really there are two things going on here. First, you have to get used to them and secondly, they have to get used to you.
Perseverance will pay off here. If you have issues wear them a little each day as your foot gets used to functioning the way it was originally designed. Remember that changing the way the foot functions can have an effect on the entire body as it has gotten used to doing things in its own way. The human body wants to function in the most efficient way it can, so if there are biomechanical abnormalities the muscles tendons, and ligaments will shorten or lengthen to increase this efficiency.
For example, if the arch of one foot collapses more than the other this will cause structural shortening of one leg. To accommodate this the various structures of the entire body must change in an attempt to ensure the optimal functioning of the foot, the leg the pelvis, and so on. Sometimes an uncomfortable time. What I’m saying is that if the foot is not functioning properly it can even give you a sore back, as the body tries to adapt.
If you correct this imbalance then the body reevaluates and adjusts again. This takes time. A cautious approach is necessary if there are issues but these are usually temporary.
Secondly, we need to take into consideration the design of the footbeds. The cork composite footbed is not as rigid as it seems. Pressure and heat from the foot will mold the footbed over time. If there are areas of high pressure, these will compact more than the rest. The result will be to evenly spread out the weight of your body over the entire sole of the foot. You are essentially customizing your own pair of Birks.
How to care for your Birks
I tend to neglect my old friends but I’m not too hard on them. You can keep them in good shape and looking good with a couple of simple steps (pun intended).
Firstly, the footbed.
The footbed is made from natural ground cork which is combined with natural latex which is covered with Jute which is a burlap material and then covered with suede leather. Some footbeds come with extra padding made from closed-cell foam. All high-quality materials and renewable natural materials come from renewable sources.
The footbeds are sealed around the edges with a flexible clear drying coating which over time will wear out. The material loses its semi-gloss appearance and starts to look dry. Because it’s not protected now it allows moisture and dirt to get in which will speed up the degradation of the cork. Birkenstock has a product called “Cork Renew” which is designed to seal the cork preventing this from happening.
To keep the suede cover of the footbed looking good you can use a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol. You can gently sand the suede with fine-grit sandpaper to remove grime and dirt. Water will stain suede so do your best not to get them wet.
Occasionally cracking can happen in the areas where the toes flex. This is due to the increased flexibility of the sole material as it wears out. Additionally, the sole material can thin. How long this takes is dependant on the wearer. As we know some people are just harder on shoes than others that can result from many different causes.
Whether your considering taking that first foray into foot relief, getting a new style, or replacing your old friends now, unfortunately, would be the perfect time to break them in.
Remember we are a community.
Keep yourself safe and you keep us all safe.