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Unlike most enclosed shoes, which compress and distort your toes, Birkenstocks enable your feet to breathe and assume their natural shape, allowing your toes to stretch out (see my other answers on Quora about this). They’re also constructed of raw materials and good quality, so they’ll endure a long time better for the environment.

Birkenstocks, on the other hand, have two major flaws that I perceive. The so-called arch support is a source of contention. Most individuals should walk and run barefoot to build and maintain arch strength, an essential component of the foot. Artificial support encourages the development of a “lazy” arch, which weakens it.

Second, they’re hefty, which changes and impacts your stride. As a result, your muscles function in ways that they were naturally ‘engineered’ to accomplish, which may cause difficulties if repeated over time. A better choice is a lighter, more minimal shoe that allows flexibility and works with your feet.

You’re better off barefoot, no matter how wonderful they are. 

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