Healthy shoes that actually look good: Zakistar’s orthopaedic flip-flops review


This post contains gifted items and an affiliate code. The post was not sponsored and the brand I’m reviewing has not interfered with the content of this post.



I remember well my first pair of high heels.


They were strappy, black sandals, with a thin heel and an awful lot of pain. But I also remember how important it was to learn to walk in them. I was a teenager and to master this skill was almost like getting a ticket to adulthood.


For many of us, shoes mark the transition between different life stages. They can also symbolise our belonging to a group, our taste and even our social status. Not surprisingly, we humans are obsessed with shoes. We have written fairy tales and folk stories about shoes, we can find the mentioning of shoes in the Holy Texts, and featured on many paintings over the centuries.


Shoes affect our perceptions of others and our perceptions of self.

Yet, the shoes contain more than symbolic meanings. Shoes connect us with the ground, they are at the foundations of our bodies. If we are lucky enough to be able to walk on our feet, we might also know how it feels when we find ourselves in uncomfortable shoes. The teenage me got a chance to experience that for the first time and I never quite learned how to deal with it since.


It's interesting when you think of it. While we might think of shoes as practical things we often make and wear them as the opposite of that.


Shoes can literally transform our bodies. Usually, this transformation is temporary. For example, we can look taller or leaner while wearing platforms, heels and pointed toes. Shoes also affect the way our bodies move. We can be faster or slower, depending on what we wear on our feet. However, sometimes, the transformation is not only temporary, and our shoes can come at a permanent cost.


While this is nothing new in the history of shoe-wearing, contemporary life has made some foot issues more prominent. As somebody who walks a lot, I started paying more and more attention to this.


This is why I’m happy to present you Zakistar: the healthy flip-flops from Slovenia.


Zakistar: sustainable healthy flip-flops
I started paying attention to the health side of my shoes!

Walking barefoot all the time

If you ever walked barefoot on the beach or pebble ground, you will know exactly the feeling that sparked the idea behind Zakistar.


Human feet are made for walking barefoot in nature, and most modern footwear is too restrictive for this. This is why walking barefoot, though it may feel unusual and uncomfortable at first, brings many benefits. Zakistar’s mission is recreating this feeling and the effect of walking barefoot on pebbles and they set out to see if it’s possible to make healthy shoes that still look good.


And guess what...


They have certainly done it!


Zakistar: healthy flip-flops, walking barefoot effect
Healthy flip flops from Bled, Slovenia. Courtesy of Zakistar.

Zakistar is crafting beautiful flip-flops with actual pebbles from the local river. They hand make everything in the magical-looking town of Bled, which is an endless source of inspiration for their shoes. They only do made-to-order, meaning that they make each pair especially for the person who will be wearing their flip-flops. At first, they may seem simple but the flip-flops are designed to support the foot while giving you a deep massage with every step you make. Apart from real pebbles, they use natural colours, rubber, cork and high quality, vegetable-tanned leather to make their premium flip-flops.


As Žiga, the Orthopaedic technician and a member of Zakistar team, told me in our conversation, orthopaedic footwear should be a norm, something we wear on a daily basis to keep our feet and body healthy. And he should know, after all, he specialises in orthopaedics and orthotics. Even more, he and the team did a little study to test their design.

Zakistar: a tested design

Zakistar partnered up with a physiotherapist to test the health side of their flip-flops. They sent the flip-flops to 20 people in Slovenia who were suffering from plantar fasciitis. This is a relatively common condition where you feel pain on the bottom of your foot​, around the heel and arch. While the causes are many, plantar fasciitis is also connected with wearing shoes with inadequate support. So the team from Zakistar wanted to see if anything will change when people wear their shoes instead.


The participants of the study wore Zakistar’s flip flops for 2.5 months while documenting their levels of pain. Quite soon, almost all of them reported significant relief and lower levels of pain. When analysing their responses and comparing them with similar studies, Žiga and his team realised that their shoes have a big potential. Their flip flops improve the blood circulation in the feet, stimulate the pressure points and strengthen the feet muscles. Further, they can help with the balance and impact the posture. After all, happy feet means a happy body too.


Satisfied with the results of their study, the Zakistar team now makes barefoot walking possible anywhere with their flip flops.


While the potential benefits are impressive, you might be wondering how flip-flops with pebbles actually feel.


Zakistar: healthy flip flops from Slovenia
How does walking in these feel like?

Well, I got a chance to test them out and let me tell you: it was not what I expected!

My Zakistar review

Zakistar sent me their orthopaedic arch support model, in purple colour. I right away liked how the colour contrasts against the elegant strap, with a simple Zakistar logo. These are certainly not your ordinary orthopaedic shoes!


Anyhow, the pebbles and the strap felt a bit harsh under my fingers, so I was nervous to put them on. I mean, I was about to stand on the tiny pieces of stones.


Yet, when I put the flip flops on, the pebbles weren’t sharp at all! It was much smoother than I thought it would be. As I was going for my first short walk in the flip-flops, I felt a tickling sensation but I got used to it quickly. The strap, on the other hand, was very firm and it took me a couple of days to break completely into them.




When I removed the flip flops after about an hour of wearing them, I immediately felt my muscles deeply relaxing. It was just like after a very good foot massage, and I felt the tension leaving my entire body. At the time of writing this review, I have been wearing Zakistar flip-flops every day for close to 3 weeks. I no longer feel the tickling and the effect of taking them off isn’t as strong as in the beginning. However, I also don’t feel a light knee pain, which I had for a while, probably due to pushing my limits while working out.


I do have to say that, as most flip-flops, these are not meant for long walks or hikes. I prefer wearing them on the shorter city walks, around the garden, and to the beach. And though they adjusted to my feet, they still look completely new, as if I just got them, and I can tell that they were made to last.




If you want to make a long term investment in your health, and give Zakistar’s flip-flops a go, use my code TENA10 for 10% off any model (affiliate code). Check their shop here!


Are you ready to walk on pebbles with me?