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How to Break in Birkenstocks Faster: 15 Easy Ways

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Birkenstock sandals are renowned for their exceptional comfort and timeless style, and they will give you years of wear so are a really good investment. 

However, if you’ve just got your first pair of Birkenstocks you might be a little shocked at just how uncomfortable they are when you first put them on. 

I know I was. In fact I was really disappointed when I received my first pair of Birkenstock Arizona sandals through the mail as they just hurt so much to even take a few steps in. 

I absolutely love how Birkenstocks look but I just couldn’t see myself wearing them if they were going to give me so much foot pain. 

Then I discovered that Birkenstocks are almost always uncomfortable at first wear and that it is normal that you will need to break them in over a period of time so they become comfortable to wear. 

If you’ve just bought a new pair of Birkenstocks and want to wear them out and about sooner rather than later, you’ll be wondering how to break in Birkenstocks faster. 

There are a few different methods I use to break in Birkenstocks and here are the best ones. 

These methods for breaking in Birkenstocks quickly will shorten the normal break-in period of new Birkenstocks, so you’ll have the most comfortable shoes in as short a time as possible. 

woman wearing black birkenstocks

Only wear new Birkenstocks around the house for two weeks

One of the easiest ways to break in Birkenstocks faster is to wear them around your house first before you go anywhere in them. 

Start by wearing them for short periods, gradually increasing the duration over time. This allows your feet to adjust to the unique footbed and the straps to stretch and adapt. 

Here’s a suggested schedule for wearing Birkenstocks around the house to break them in gradually:

Day 1:

  • Start by wearing your Birkenstocks for 15-30 minutes indoors.
  • If there are no major discomforts, continue to wear them for short intervals throughout the first day.

Days 2-3:

  • Increase the wearing time to 30-45 minutes each session.

Days 4-6:

  • Extend the wearing time to 1-2 hours per session.
  • Begin to incorporate light activities like doing chores around the house while wearing your Birkenstocks.

Days 7-10:

  • Aim for 2-3 hours of wearing time per session.
  • Continue to engage in light activities while wearing your Birkenstocks.

Days 11-14:

  • Gradually increase the wearing time to 4-6 hours per session.
  • Start wearing your Birkenstocks for longer periods of time, such as during an afternoon or evening at home.

Days 15 and beyond:

  • By this point, your Birkenstocks should be noticeably more comfortable.
  • Wear them for extended periods throughout the day, gradually transitioning to wearing them outside the house. 

While you’re working through this two week break-in process, you can also use the following effective methods to break in Birkenstocks even faster. 

Wear Birkenstocks with thick socks

To stretch the Birkenstock footbed and straps more quickly, wear thick socks with your sandals while you’re breaking them in at home. 

The added bulk of the socks will put pressure on the footbed and straps, molding them to the shape of your feet more rapidly. The padding from a pair of thick socks will also help to protect your feet from any uncomfortable edges. 

birkenstocks with socks

Get them a little damp

It’s important to know that Birkenstocks should not be immersed in water (unless they are the EVA or ethylene vinyl acetate models which are water-resistant). 

Getting leather Birkenstocks wet can affect the integrity of Birkenstock footbeds, causing them to warp and deteriorate. Lots of water can also dry and crack leather, and degrade the sealants on your Birks making them less durable. 

However, to help the leather to stretch out a little while you’re breaking in Birkenstocks, the best method is to simply wipe the straps with a damp, clean cloth and then wear them. This will allow the leather material to stretch out a little more so they will break in during a shorter amount of time. 

Make sure to thoroughly dry them out again once you have worn them by placing them in a warm place, but out of direct sunlight. 

This method can help speed up the breaking-in process and mold the sandals to the shape of your feet more efficiently.

Flex the footbed

Another technique to expedite the breaking-in process is to flex the footbed of your Birkenstocks. If your sandals have the original footbed, rather than the soft footbed, this is a good way to make Birkenstocks more comfortable. 

Wearing Birkenstocks regularly will ensure your body heat and foot pressure molds the cork that’s inside the footbed over time. The cork material will gradually become more flexible and conform to the shape of your feet, but if you want to know how to break in Birkenstocks faster a quick flex is a good tip. 

Hold the sandal by the toe and heel, and gently flex it back and forth. This helps to loosen the cork, and allows it to adapt to your feet more quickly. 

beige birkenstocks

Be careful not to apply excessive force, as this may damage the sandal. Just twist the footbed gently to loosen it up for a few seconds. 

Condition the leather straps

Birkenstock straps are naturally quite stiff when you first get a pair and this can be uncomfortable at first until they are broken in. If you find the leather straps of your Birkenstocks particularly stiff, consider moisturizing them to expedite the softening process. 

Apply a small amount of leather conditioner to the straps by rubbing it on in circular motions with a soft cloth. Gently rub the conditioner in and let it sit for a few hours or overnight. 

The conditioner will soften the leather, making it more pliable and comfortable on your skin and is a good way to break in your new sandals. 

Related: how to look after a leather jacket

Use a hairdryer

If you need to soften specific areas of your Birkenstocks, a blow dryer can be a handy way to help break your Birkenstocks in faster. Using the nozzle of a dryer you can spot treat particularly tight or uncomfortable areas of the straps so they stretch out a little. 

Remember to keep the blow dryer at a moderate temperature and maintain a safe distance to avoid any damage. Extreme heat will damage the materials so always operate the hairdryer at a low temperature. 

Focus the air flow from the blow dryer on the stiff or tight spots of the leather straps. The heat will soften the leather and allow it to stretch more easily, so once the leather is slightly warm you can put the sandals on and continue the breaking-in process a little faster. 

Use sandpaper

When it comes to how to break Birkenstocks in faster, this is a fairly unusual method but it’s very easy to do and very effective. 

No matter how comfortable Birkenstocks are in general, the natural shape of your foot might mean that the straps dig in to your skin more than they might on another person. 

woman walking on beach holding Birkenstocks

To ensure maximum comfort, you can lightly sand down sharp edges on straps with a fine sandpaper. Start off very gently and keep trying the Birks on to see how they feel before you sand away too much of the strap. 

Try moleskin padding rolls

Moleskin padding rolls are a type of adhesive padding commonly used for foot care. Moleskin is a soft, durable, and cushioning material that provides comfort and protection against friction and pressure on specific areas of the feet.

Moleskin padding rolls typically come in a roll or sheet form and can be easily cut to the desired size and shape. They are often used to address common foot issues such as blisters, corns, calluses, or areas of irritation caused by rubbing or pressure from shoes.

This makes them perfect for breaking in Birkenstocks. If you have an area that’s particularly painful while breaking them in, use a moleskin padding roll for some extra comfort while you continue wearing them. 

When learning how to break in Birkenstocks faster you can also try band aids on any pressure points to allow you to increase your Birkenstock wear time. 

Hit them with a hammer

If taking a hammer to your new Birkenstock shoes fills you with horror, don’t worry. It’s just a gentle tap in a few areas to get them to break in quicker. 

You’ll be tapping the hammer gently but firmly on areas of the footbed that are rubbing or causing pain to the sole of your foot. New Birks have a contoured footbed already but it takes a bit of time for your own body weight to get it to change shape and fit to the curves of your own foot. 

Tapping any problem areas with a hammer will help the cork inside the footbed to soften up faster and make your new shoes instantly more comfortable to wear. 

Massage the straps

Birkenstock leather straps can be manipulated a little by hand to help soften them and improve their flexibility so they break in faster. 

Leather is a natural material, and massaging it by hand can help break down the fibers and make it more supple.

Here are some steps you can follow to massage leather:

  • Before massaging, make sure the leather is clean and free from dirt or debris. You can gently wipe the surface with a damp cloth or use a leather cleaner.
  • Applying a small amount of leather conditioner can help lubricate the fibers and make the massaging process more effective. 
  • With clean hands, apply moderate pressure to the leather surface. Use your hands to knead, flex, and gently stretch the leather. Focus on areas that feel stiff or less pliable. You can also use your fingers to massage specific spots or creases.

You can do this once a day while trying to make Birkenstocks more comfortable and you’ll see results quite quickly. 

beige birkenstock sandals on the sand

This is one of the more easy methods for breaking in Birkenstocks faster, and it also works on other leather sandals that are usually quite tough and need breaking in when you first get them such as Doc Martens sandals. 

Stuff your Birkenstocks with socks

This way of breaking in your Birkenstocks quickly is great because you can do it while you’re not even wearing them. 

Simply roll up a thick pair of socks or two and stuff them into the shoes, under the straps. Make sure they are tight against the straps. 

The pressure from the socks will help the leather fibers to become a little more pliable, meaning they will become more comfortable to wear much more quickly. 

Keep adjusting the straps

While you’re learning how to break in Birkenstocks faster, keep an eye on the straps and how they fit against your feet. 

As your new pair of Birkenstock shoes starts to break in during your initial days of wearing them, the straps will likely need undoing and refastening to a different hole. 

You’ll want the Birks to fit you perfectly once they’re broken in, so make sure to constantly adjust the straps so that they are against your feet and they will then stretch and mold to the shape of your foot more quickly than they will if they stay too loose. 

Choose a softer footbed

The regular footbed that comes with most Birkenstocks is made of layers of jute, cork and latex. The top of the footbed then has a suede lining to make them more comfortable against your feet. 

This type of footbed is quite rigid and takes some time to break in, but you could instead opt for the soft footbed option that Birkenstock use with some of their shoe styles including the Arizona, Boston clogs and the Granada. 

The softer footbed has an additional layer of foam which makes them a tad more comfortable in the first place. This is a popular choice if you have flat feet as it gives you a little more support in this problem area. 

Buy the right size Birkenstocks in the first place

This might seem obvious but because Birkenstocks are a unique shoe with their own sizing and measurements, it’s important to get the size right the first time to avoid them being too uncomfortable to wear. 

Here are some tips to help you get the right fit:

  • Measure your feet: Start by measuring your feet using a ruler or a measuring tape. Take the measurements while standing, as your feet tend to expand slightly when bearing weight. Compare the measurements to the Birkenstock size chart to determine the appropriate size.
  • Check the width: Birkenstock sandals come in various width options, including narrow (N), regular/medium (M), and wide (W). Consider your foot width and select the appropriate option for a more comfortable fit. The straps should neither feel too tight nor too loose.
  • Ensure proper length: Birkenstocks typically have a bit of extra space at the heel and the front of the footbed. However, your toes should not touch the edge or extend beyond it. Aim for approximately 0.25 to 0.5 inches of space at the front of the sandals to allow for natural movement and comfort.
  • Adjust the straps: Birkenstock sandals usually have adjustable straps, allowing you to customize the fit. Experiment with the strap adjustments to achieve a secure and comfortable fit. The straps should hold your foot in place without feeling overly tight or restrictive.
  • Take a test walk: Once you have your Birkenstocks on, take a few steps and pay attention to how they feel. Walk on different surfaces, including hard floors and carpets, to assess the level of comfort and support they provide. Your feet should feel secure, well-supported, and free from excessive pressure points.

Add extra holes to the straps

To properly break in Birkenstocks sometimes you just might have to make some adjustments to a strap to make it looser or tighter on your foot, depending on how the sandal is fitting. Despite best efforts when it comes to taking your own measurements, sometimes your foot shape still needs a little extra help. 

To add extra holes to the leather straps on your Birkenstocks sandals, follow this guide

brown birkenstock sandals on a beach

It’s handy to learn how to do this yourself because at some point you may have to add another hole to your Birks as they get naturally looser over time, and you’ll need to tighten them up again. 

Breaking in Birkenstocks doesn’t have to be a lengthy and uncomfortable process. By employing these tips and tricks on how to break in Birkenstocks faster, you can speed up the time it takes for your Birks to reach optimal comfort and you’ll soon be wearing them for the entire day with no issues. 

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Frequently asked questions

What are Birkenstocks?

Birkenstocks are super comfy sandals that have a cork footbed that molds to your feet over time, giving you a personalized fit. They’re like walking on clouds, and people love them for their support and laid-back style.

Why break in Birkenstocks?

Breaking in Birkenstocks is important because, at first, they might feel a bit stiff and rigid, but once they conform to your feet, they become incredibly comfortable and supportive. You should break them in to make sure they don’t cause any foot pain and fit your feet perfectly. 

How should Birkenstocks fit?

Birkenstocks should fit snugly, but not too tight. You want your feet to feel secure in the sandals, with a little bit of room at the front for your toes to wiggle freely. Think of it as finding the perfect balance between cozy and carefree for your feet.

Are Birkenstocks comfortable?

Absolutely! Birkenstocks are like a cozy hug for your feet. With their contoured footbed and high-quality materials, they provide amazing support and comfort that will make you want to wear them all day, every day.

How long does it take to break in Birkenstocks?

Breaking in Birkenstocks varies from person to person, but it usually takes a little time for the footbed to mold and conform to your feet. Give them a week or two of regular wear, and you’ll experience the glorious transformation from “pretty comfy” to “oh my goodness, these are my new favorite shoes!”

How long do Birkenstocks last?

While the lifespan of Birkenstocks can vary depending on factors such as frequency of use and maintenance, many Birks wearers report that their Birkenstocks last them anywhere from 3 to 5 years or even up to 10 years with proper care. 

What to do if your Birkenstock toe bar hurts?

If your Birkenstock toe bar is causing discomfort, don’t fret! You can try adjusting the strap tension, wearing them for short periods to allow your feet to adjust, or using moleskin padding to cushion the area until they break in and become your happy, pain-free sandals.

Why are Birkenstocks so uncomfortable at first?

At first, Birkenstocks might feel a bit uncomfortable because they have a sturdy footbed that needs time to mold to your unique foot shape. But fear not! Once they break in and conform to your feet, they’ll become your go-to comfy companions that you won’t want to take off.

Do Birkenstocks soften up?

Yeah, they definitely do! Birkenstocks tend to soften up over time as you break them in, molding to the shape of your feet for a more comfortable fit.

Can you walk long distances in Birkenstocks?

While it’s possible to walk long distances in Birkenstocks, they might not be the best choice for marathon-level treks. They provide decent support and comfort for casual strolls or moderate walks, but for intense mileage, you might want to consider sturdier footwear

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Melissa Jane Lee

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