Birkenstocks Are The 1 Shoe That Has Helped My Dad’s Chronic Plantar Fasciitis

This podiatrist-approved shoe brand is to thank for managing foot pain and offering comforting support.
Top to bottom: The Gizeh flip flops, the Zermatt shearling-lined slippers and Birkenstock’s classic Arizona sandals.
Zappos, Nordstrom
Top to bottom: The Gizeh flip flops, the Zermatt shearling-lined slippers and Birkenstock’s classic Arizona sandals.

Whether it’s from genetic bad luck or too many years spent wearing unsupportive shoes around the house, my father, Eliazar Flores, is chronically prone to some pretty painful bouts of plantar fasciitis — a very common foot condition, according to Michael J. Trepal, professor of surgical sciences and academic dean at the New York College of Podiatric Medicine.

Trepal previously explained to HuffPost that plantar fasciitis is often accompanied by a stabbing or sharp shooting pain centered around the bottom of the foot. It’s an inflammatory, and in many cases, degenerative ailment affecting the broad thick ligament on the bottom of the foot which helps to hold up the arch.

Aside from regular foot stretching and possibly medical intervention in more severe instances, Trepal formerly said that supportive footwear is one solution to minimize plantar fasciitis flare-ups. My pops can personally attest to this advice and attributes his several years of being foot-pain-free to Birkenstocks (specifically the brand’s Zermatt slipper), a footwear brand that’s probably best known for their sandals and clog-style shoes that can be worn just about everywhere.

“I have a low arch and wide flat feet and Birkenstocks give me firm arch support so I don’t feel foot pain, even if I stand or walk for a long time,” Flores said, who is an avid walker and nature hiker. ”[Birkenstocks] have also helped the sciatica pain in my leg,” he added.

Founded all the way back in 1774, Birkenstock is known for its signature contoured footbed, an anatomically designed insole that offers longitudinal arch support running along the sides of the footbed for greater stability. This is supplemented with transverse arch support, a contour that runs along the middle of the footbed to help promote better alignment, and a raised toe bar, which encourages the natural gripping motion of the feet. Finally, a deep and cradling heel cup keeps the heel’s natural cushioning right under the heel bone to also help prevent potential pain.

According to Flores, this footbed, which is made from a shock-absorbing and highly flexible cork and latex material that slightly molds to your feet over time, remains in-tact and supportive for years and years, even after constant wear — another reason why these have become his near-exclusive shoe of choice, even when it comes to indoor footwear (see his must-have slipper below).

It’s important to note that Birkenstocks might not be suitable for all types of feet experiencing plantar fasciitis, nor do they have the American Podiatric Medical Association seal of approval, a list of products which podiatrists have found to be beneficial to foot health. However, there are tons of first-person testimonials aside from my father’s who attest to the shoes’s high level of comfort and unique support.

“I had a horrible case of plantar fasciitis last summer and these were the only sandals I could wear comfortably,” one Reddit user wrote. When prompted if Birkenstocks are worth all the hype, another Redditor claimed: “Yes, especially if you have a foot ailment like plantar fasciitis, The structure of the shoe really gives me the relief and recovery I need after spending a work day in other shoes.”

Of course, it’s always a good idea to speak with a medical professional when it comes to managing chronic pain, but until then, you may want to peruse just a few of Birkenstock’s most popular silhouettes on the list ahead.

HuffPost and its publishing partners may receive a commission from some purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently curated by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.

The classic Arizona slides with a traditional footbed
Possibly one of the most recognized styles from Birkenstock are these truly effortless Arizona slide sandals made with soft leather uppers and the brand's iconic firm support footbed. The Arizona comes in what seems to be an endless selection of colors and materials including this oiled leather option, suede and metallic. There's also a style with a heel strap called the Milano and a softer cushioned footbed version.Grab these in gender-neutral sizes 5-13.5 and two widths. Plus, if you want something fully waterproof, the Arizonas come in an incredibly lightweight and flexible EVA material, which my dad swears by for garden watering sessions, beach days or any time spent by the water.
The classic Boston clog with a soft footbed
If Birkenstock's classic firm footbed isn't your cup of tea, the brand has since developed a softer cushioned sole, which in addition to the signature contoured insole, the shoe features foam pads in the heel and along the middle of the arch. The classic Boston clog style can be found in tons of upper options like soft suede and structured leather, different outer sole options and colors. Find them in two widths, and gender-neutral sizes 4-13.5.
An effortless slide for women
Similar to the ease of the Arizona, these women's slide sandals are named the Madrid and come in a wide variety of colors, different leather options like nubuck and patent leather, and a smaller buckle version. There's even a selection of shearling-lined Madrids.They have an adjustable strap closure, come in one narrow-to-medium width and women's sizes 5-11.5.
A flip flop-style Birkenstock for women
The Gizeh is designed to be much more comfortable and supportive than your average flip flop. The thong style is accompanied with that coveted contoured footbed and flexible cork sole. There are a few different styles to choose from, like this "big buckle" version and one with a braided strap. Grab them in a wide selection of colors and materials and women's sizes 4-12.5.
A shearling and wool house slipper
I mentioned earlier that my dad relies on one Birkenstock slipper for round the clock support indoors and these Zermatt house shoes are it. Outfitted with wool felt uppers and a supremely cozy shearling lining, these slippers also promise the brand's signature and coveted footbed. Find these in three colors, two widths and unisex sizes up to a men's 10.5 and a women's 12.5.
A contoured cork bed sneaker
If you've always wished that your Birkenstocks could come in the form of sneakers, you'll be pleased to know that they do. The Bend is a gender-neutral tennis shoe that promises the brand's contoured footbed and a natural rubber sole that offers moderate traction. There's a number of colors and materials to choose from, including leather, suede and an embossed corduroy, two widths and sizes up to a men's 17.5 and a women's 12.5.
A water-resistant outdoor sandal
Available in up to three colors, one width and men's sizes 6-13.5, the Atacamas are Birkenstock's version of a rugged outdoor sandal that can withstand all your camping, water and outdoor adventures. The shock-absorbing footbed isn't made of the same cork material that you can expect from the classics, however it does offer the same support. There's also a similar style for women and a heel-strapped version for men.
A platform wedge
The Glenda wedges are the perfect summer sandal that, despite the elevated platform design, promise an anatomically shaped cork footbed for supreme comfort and support. You can grab these soft nubuck leather sandals in four colors, one width and women's sizes 5-12.5.

Popular in the Community


HuffPost Shopping’s Best Finds