After winning the Footwear Plus Company Award of 2021, it’s evident why Birkenstocks are an all-time favorite choice of footwear.
However, your first pair of Birkenstocks will feel stiff and uncomfortable. As a result, you may wonder whether they stretch with time or are genuinely uncomfortable. So, do Birkenstocks stretch or not?
Yes, they do. Birks, like most other sandals, require a break-in period during which the footbed adjusts to the size and shape of the feet. However, the process is slow, and it may take several weeks before you notice any stretch in your birks. You can speed up the stretching process by using a shoe stretching spray or a shoe stretcher.
So, how can you stretch your Birkenstocks manually without pain? And how can you hasten their breaking-in process? This article will help you out.
Why Are My Birkenstocks So Uncomfortable?
Stepping into your new Birkenstocks gives you the sensation of being a “princess on the pea”; yes, they are uncomfortable! And, before you raise your eyebrows, here’s a quick explanation.
It’s normal for new Birks to be uncomfortable, just like most other shoes. It’s because your feet need to adjust to the cork-latex core of the footbed. And to shape your feet into that, you must be extremely patient and dedicated.
Do Birkenstocks Stretch as You Wear Them?
It’s more accurate to say that you don’t break in your Birks, but your Birks break in your feet. This means that the footbed and straps stretch slightly as you wear them. The reason for this is that the materials used to make Birkenstocks, such as leather, cork, and latex, stretch with body heat.
Wearing Birks for hours, for example, generates body heat, which opens the pores of the leather hide and stretches it. And, as the footbed stretches, it gradually conforms to the shape of your foot.
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Can Suede Birkenstocks Be Stretched?
Yes, they do! And the reason behind their stretching is the suede itself. Suede can mold and take the shape of your feet. It also has organic memory foam that can reposition itself after stretching.
And this stretching nature of suede is entirely natural. Why? Suede is made from domestic animal skins, that stretch because of the presence of elastin fibers in the skin.
Do Rubber Birkenstocks Stretch?
Rubber Birks aren’t entirely made of rubber, but of EVA, a type of plastic with a rubber-like feel. And because of EVA, these rubber Birkenstocks get comfortable as you wear them.
Why? Since EVA is a flexible or stretchable material. EVA material also gives Birkenstocks their famous shock-absorbing and waterproof properties due to its stretching and rubber-like properties.
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How Long Do Birkenstocks Take to Break-In?
Breaking time for Birkenstocks can range from 1 to 3 weeks, depending on the Birk and the person. You can also shorten the break-in period by using manual methods or wearing them for long hours.
How to Break in Birkenstocks?
I’ve already discussed how to stretch Birkenstocks. But how can you naturally break into your Birks to achieve the comfort you crave? Here are a few pointers:
1. Extend The Wearing Time
The more you wear Birks, the better they will fit your feet. You can begin by wearing them for 45 minutes per day. As long as the process is painless, you can gradually increase the time. Then, if they begin to hurt your feet, take them off and try again after some rest.
2. Get The Right Size
No matter how much your try, if you get the wrong size of Birkenstocks, you can never break into them. And since Birkenstocks run true to size, you should get one that comfortably sets your foot on the footbed.
3. Put On Thick Socks
Pairing Birks with thick socks is still in style. But luckily, wearing them with Birkenstocks gives them the right cushioning and thickness required for stretching their footbed and straps.
4. Pierce More Strap Holes
This tip applies to almost all types of sandals. So, if your Birks are too loose or too tight on the straps, mark the dot with a pencil. Then, with a screwdriver or other pin-point tool, open the staps and make a hole(s).
5. Try Softer Footbed Birks
If breaking in a regular footbed is getting you nowhere, try buying the Birk with a softer footbed. Alternatively, you can purchase softer replacement footbeds to address the stiffness issue in regular footbeds.
6. Use Moleskins
Breaking in a new pair of Birkenstocks may result in blisters or chaffing at first. So, try moleskin to provide your feet with the necessary cushioning for prevention. Simply cut the padding to fit the size and shape of your feet and place it on the chafing areas.
7. Sand Down Straps
Sandpaper can be used to soften the straps of your Birks if they are itchy or causing discomfort. For a smooth texture, gently buff the straps with sandpaper. But don’t go overboard or you’ll ruin the look.
8. Hammer Down The Toe Bar
If the stiffened toe bar of the sandal is the source of your discomfort, try hammering it down. Simply take your mallet or hammer and tap the toe bar down to soften the cork. However, you must proceed with caution to avoid major damage.
9. Try Rubbing Alcohol
If none of the above methods worked to break in your Birkenstocks, you could try rubbing alcohol.
Simply spray some alcohol on the upper of the sandal and wear your sandals with thick socks.
However, use this tip as a last resort, as rubbing alcohol can damage leather and cause discoloration.
How to Stretch Birkenstocks?
Birkenstocks can be stretched using the same methods described previously for breaking in, such as pairing them with socks, using rubber alcohol, wearing them religiously, and so on.
However, you can also stretch Birkenstocks manually using a shoe stretcher or a stretching spray.
1. Stretching spray
Stretching sprays are a quick and simple way to stretch your Birkenstocks. Simply spray it on the tight areas of your Birks and wear them until your feet are at ease.
2. Using a Shoe Stretcher
Shoe stretchers work amazingly for stretching shoes but require a lot of patience. Here’s how you can stretch your Birks with a shoe stretcher:
- Position the stretcher at the narrowest part of your Birks.
- Keep it in that tight area for about 24 hours.
Make sure you keep the pressure minimal. You can also combine this tip with the stretching spray for even better results.
What Is the Best Way to Break in Birkenstocks?
After reading the various breaking-in and stretching methods suggested in this guide, you’re probably wondering which one will work best for your Birks.
So, to answer your question, wearing Birks for long periods of time is still the most worked-out tip for many Birkenstock owners. As a result, wear them for about two hours per day and gradually increase the time the next day. Continue doing so for a week or two, or until the Birks completely hug your feet.
Wrap Up: Do Birkenstocks Stretch?
Birkenstocks are designed to stretch and mold to your feet over time. As a result, they are uneasy when taken out of the box. You can stretch your boots naturally by wearing them religiously, or you can stretch them manually using the methods described in this blog.
Birks typically take about two weeks to break in. However, once broken in, Birkenstocks are the most comfortable sandals you’ll own for years.