Birkenstock shoes have a cork/latex footbed that is made to support your arches and, in time, conform to your foot. When trying on Birkenstock sandals, first place your heel in the the heelcup. The rest of your foot should fit inside the shoe with enough room around the edges to house your entire foot and still leave enough space -- about 1/4 inch in the length and width -- for movement when walking. Birkenstock sandals and clogs are a popular choice for those seeking comfortable, supportive shoes that are still stylish.
Break in the Footbed
Birkenstock shoes are known for their unique footbed. This footwear is famous for providing support in the arches of your feet which reduces fatigue and muscle strain as you walk. The cork material allows your foot to make a "footprint" inside the shoe so that they are a specialized fit. In order to break in this footbed, start by wearing the shoes/sandals with socks for 30-minute intervals during the day for the first few days, then build up the wear time as the shoes starts to mold to the shape of your feet. The total process will take a couple of weeks.
Break in the Straps on Your Sandals
When wearing the Birkenstock sandals, adjust the straps to support your feet. The soles and straps may feel stiff or rigid at first, but as your foot moves and they are worn, the straps will become more soft and supple. It will take at least a month for the leather to start to break in.
Condition the Shoes
The cork on the footbed will wear down in time the longer the shoes are worn. When the cork starts to look dull, apply a thin coat of Cork Life to condition the cork and prevent it from drying out. The cork may get some small cracks with time as the shoe adapts to your walking pattern. Small superficial cracks are normal, but if the cracks are large and deep, you may need to take the shoe to a Birkenstock workshop for repair.
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Caring for Footbeds
The more you wear your Birkenstock shoes, the more moisture is absorbed in the footbeds. It is recommended that you air out the footbeds regularly in order to prevent odor buildup. Because of the suede lining over the cork sole, you should also keep the Birkenstock shoes away from water and extreme heat; both elements may damage the construction of the shoes and cause permanent damage.
Milenna Russell has a Bachelor's degree in mass communications from the University of Utah. She has been a freelance writer since 2004 and writes for several web-content sites including Lifetips, Ehow and Associated Content.