Birkenstocks are the Chipotle of footwear. Like opting for a burrito bowl and a side order of guac at the end of a long workday, you wear them when you’re in no mood to try. And you don’t feel too bad about it either, because they reek of integrity and liberalism and therefore don’t invite the same harsh criticism as things like foam flip-flops or Arby's. But still, too much Chipotle is never a good thing.
"Your foot might splay a little bit," said NYC podiatrist Dr. Hillary Brenner in response to a rumor my coworker's friend, this girl Alison, heard from her shoe sales guy at Jeffrey that all the Birkenstocks and locker room slides women are wearing nowadays are making their feet bigger—thus forcing them to size up on their Fall '14 footwear purchases. 38? Guess again, now you're probably a 38.5.
"Splay" is a great word, and by that Dr. Brenner simply means that the muscles and bones inside of your feet are getting a nice little stretch and they don't want that feeling to end. So it's not like they're gaining weight—they're just not as toned. "Your foot gets comfortable in these types of shoes and only certain muscles are working. Then when you go into a high heel that's more narrow and stiff, your foot can’t splay as much. Different pressure points are being loaded, and you're having to use muscles you haven't used in a while."
But there are abs somewhere under the mushy softness of your lazy Birkenstock feet, and they can be un-splayed and ready for the heel-loving city life. Dr. Brenner suggests training your feet back into a pair of your old heels rather than buying new ones, "You still have the same foot as you've always had, it’s not growing wider, it's just getting put into a different device. You'll feel it at first, in the same way that your body will feel sore after the first time of doing a workout tape. But after a while your body gets used to that workout and new muscles are being stimulated. Eventually you won’t feel as sore. It's a good idea to wear a variety of shoes overall, so that your entire foot is being worked on a regular basis."
So, and correct me if I'm wrong, the takeaway here is that you can eat as many burritos as you like, just do it while wearing heels?
Photos by ITG.