The main reason people buy Birkenstocks is for the footbed. Birkenstock themselves state that they wanted to replicate a footprint in the sand, by creating a footbed that suited all kinds of shapes and sizes of feet. The cork footbed provides support and has built-in shock absorption, as well as stimulating the gripping motion that keeps your shoe in place which provides exercise and promotes circulation.
There are also other added benefits to wearing Birkenstocks for those who suffer from issues such as planter fasciitis, mortis neuroma and high arches which can cause discomfort in standard flat shoes. The anatomical mouldings are designed to reduce pressure when you walk, helping to provide relief for your feet, joints and back.
Of course, the footbed isn't the only reason these shoes are so popular, they are also stylish, last a very long time and are environmentally friendly, meaning less landfill full of fast fashion shoes!
Perhaps you are new to Birkenstocks and need some help to make the best footbed decision for your feet. Birkenstocks are an investment, so naturally it makes sense to have as much information as possible before you buy.
The Regular Footbed
What makes a Birkenstock footbed?
The image below shows the materials and the makeup of the standard regular footbed. This regular footbed is the standard in most Birkenstock shoes. The cork and suede provide enough give to effectively mould to your feet while still maintaining rigidity to provide support.
1 - Heel Cup: The moulding in the heal area supports your foot tissue and holds your heel bone firmly in its natural position.
2 - Heel Mould: The outer arch support promotes movement that reduces pressure on the joints – and the likelihood of twisting your ankle. The heel mould activates the calf muscles, stabilizes the back of the foot and improves gait and coordination.
3 - Longitudinal Arch Support: The arch support along the side of the footbed surrounds the tarsal bone. As a result, it provides the stability your foot needs when walking, while supporting and strengthening the inner arch. It stabilises the back of the foot, thereby improving gait and coordination.
4 - Transverse Arch Support: The transverse arch support, which runs through the middle of the footbed, stabilises the metatarsal bone, easing the pressure on the balls of your feet and helping prevent splayfoot. It also helps ensure that your foot maintains a naturally straight and solid stance.
5 - Toe Grip: There are raised indentations at the front of the footbed near the toes. Thanks to this toe grip, your toes remain relaxed in their natural position, which supports the flexing action of walking.
6 - Footbed Edge: The footbed rises noticeably at the front end. This edge protects your toes as your foot flexes.
7 - First Layer of Jute: The first layer of jute forms the base of the footbed. It helps bond the natural cork to the latex core.
8 - Cork and Latex Footbed: The cork and latex footbed is the heart of all Birkenstock shoes. This shock-absorbing and highly flexible core cushions and supports the feet while relieving pressure. Crafted of natural materials, it insulates against both heat and cold and keeps your feet feeling fresh.
9 - Second Layer of Jute: The second layer of jute frames the sides of the footbed, increasing its flexibility and durability. This thick, absorbent layer also helps regulate moisture.
10 - Suede Lining: The high-quality suede lining naturally absorbs moisture to help keep feet fresh.
When it comes to the Original Footbed, Birkenstocks can take a little time to break in, like all quality shoes. This is due to the cork footbed which hugs the contours of the feet to provide the additional support. Once Birkenstocks have been broken in however, they become considerably more comfortable, moulding to your feet and giving you the correct support in all the right areas that suit you. Many Birkenstock fans claim that their Birks are the most comfortable shoes in their wardrobe! The Original Footbed may take a bit of an adjustment period but in the long run it pays off!
As you wear Birkenstocks you may notice that your feet almost change shape. With your bones moving to a more natural and comfortable position. It is normal at first to find your feet feeling a little strange. The reason this happens is that most shoes don't actually provide foot support and maintain a natural foot position. So, the standard footbed counters the format of shoes that squish our feet into a tight toed and flat foot position. The standard footbed can not only improve your foot health but also improve your gate and knees by having your feet in a healthy position.
Regular Footbed Pros:
• Once you break them in, they match your feet shape.
• Long term comfort, they will forever stay in the shape you have set.
• Great for arch support, for those who may have high or low arches.
Regular Footbed Cons:
• May take anywhere between 1-2 weeks to break in. At first wear them in 2-4 hour intervals daily, then increasing the time as you break them in for a gentle break in.
The Soft Footbed
Birkenstock understands that it may take a little time to get used to their standard footbeds. This was the reason Birkenstock made the decision to create the soft footbed for the consumer who wants straight out-of-the-box comfort. The Soft footbed is made almost identically to the standard, the only difference being the soft foam layer in between the suede and cork.
The misconception a lot of people have with the soft footbed is that it is incredibly soft like a trainer or a sports shoe, this is not necessarily true. It is softer than the standard footbed, however it still provides a sturdier footbed experience which is vital to the health benefits inherent in Birkenstocks. Often, when shoes are too soft, they do not provide the proper support, so the soft footbed is a great combination of providing the added comfort while maintaining the healthy Birkenstock footbed support.
The main difference between the Regular and Soft Footbed:
The image below is of the soft footbed and shows the difference between the two footbeds with label 2 - The soft Footbed is padded with an anatomically shaped foam inlay. It contains millions of tiny air bubbles that deliver an exceptionally comfortable wearing experience. As you can see, the foam creates an added layer above the cork, meaning that despite being slightly softer, the soft footbed will take longer to mould to the contours of your feet because of the softened force applied to the cork. However, it does provide added comfort from the outset.
Soft Footbed Pros:
• An easier transition back and forth between normal shoes and Birkenstocks.
• Out of the box comfort.
• Great for people with a low arch that has never fallen
Soft Footbed Cons:
• Can actually take longer to 'properly' mould to your feet due to the memory foam, so if it is comfortable for you out of the box it will tend to stay that way, however don't expect it to form to your foot quickly.
In the end, everyone's feet are different. We hope that this post has helped you have a better understanding of the differences between the regular and soft footbed, as well as what would suit you based on your lifestyle. In the end, Regular or Soft Footbed, Birkenstocks provide a healthy alternative to your standard shoes!
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