I know I’ve worn shoes that are too narrow, but what I didn’t know and just learned is that shoes should have an INCH of extra space at the tip of the toe. I always thought it was a half-inch for extra comfort and an inch made them too big.

Here are some other interesting facts pointed out in an article “If the Shoe Fits” in the October 3 issue Aurora Healthcare’s Women’s Health Newsletter.”

* 90% of us are wearing shoes that are too narrow, according to physicians at UCLA who examined 356 women. Ill-fitting shoes had created bunions, hammer toes, pinched nerves, heel pain, or ingrown toenails in 70% of the study group.

* Even with normal aging, feet widen and flatten, the fat padding on the sole of the foot wears down, and skin gets dryer.

They offer 5 excellent tips for buying shoes for bunion relief and all-around foot comfort.

  • Replace or repair shoes as soon as the heel starts to show wear.[My father always had metal cleats added to our new shoes when we were kids. A common phrase in our house was “stop dragging your feet, you’ll wear out your shoes too soon.”]
  • Buy new shoes at the end of the day (your feet are larger) and have your feet measured first – don’t assume you wear the same size shoe you did when you were younger. Always try on both shoes and buy for the larger foot (they’re rarely the same size).
  • Don’t buy shoes that need a break-in period; shoes should be comfortable immediately.[Makes so much sense, but I’ve been fooled by this one. I’m so grateful for Nordstrom’s return policy.]
  • Don’t wear the same shoes every day; if you’re diabetic, change several times a day.
  • In general, the best shoes are well cushioned with a firm sole and soft upper. They should be flexible at the front and at the ball of the foot, and strong and supportive but not too stiff in the heel area.
  • There should be an inch of space between the longest toe and the tip of the shoe, and you should be able to wiggle your toes. (I’ll be wearing women’s size 13’s if I do this!!! I wonder if they’ll start making bigger shoes with smaller sizes like they do clothing?)

A survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association, reported by The Clarion-Ledger, found that 73 percent of women have a shoe-related foot problem. Forty-two percent of women admitted they would wear a shoe that was uncomfortable. Okay, so the report was done by people in the business of fixing feet, but that’s still a lot of women!

It’s been nine months since my bunion surgery and I just bought three new pairs of shoes – all sandals, two pair with 1 1/2 inch heels and one pair with 2 1/2 inch heels, a heel height I haven’t worn in over a decade.

All the shoes have slight annoyances that border on almost uncomfortable enough to take back, but I’m hoping that a few more wearings will break them in and the leather will stretch enough to accommodate my feet, not the other way around.

Thank goodness I was smart enough to look for 1/4 inch rubber bottomed soles, which Naturalizer and Lifestride make, and add an adhesive gel padding to the insole for more comfort.

The extra padding is better than nothing, but the gel rolls up at the edges and becomes sticky on your feet, which requires reflattening every time you wear the shoes, and which my toes try to adjust when I’m sitting in meetings. Ten dollars at Famous Footwear.

Save your money and buy thicker soled shoes or use the gel-rolling as exercise for nervous toes that are hoping you’ll choose shoes with arch support, a lower heel, and a wide toe box.