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.

I just got next week’s issue of U.S. News and World Report. There’s a great article on “50 Ways to Improve Your Life.” I couldn’t help but notice #3: Lose the shoes.

Everywhere I go now that I’ve come out of the shoe closet about my bunion and hammertoe surgery, I meet women who share their bunion stories, and are still wearing shoes “to die for.”

Cameron Diaz was on “Ellen” and came out wearing heels that were were as tall as the ten story buildings she jumped over in Charlie’s Angels. Six-inch heels! It doesn’t look like Cameron has bunions, and I’m not sure if Ellen does, but I can tell you that no matter how cute those shoes were, there is no way anyone who has had bunion surgery (at least my kind of bunion surgery) would ever get near those shoes for more than a minute.

Ellen asked to try the shoes on, shuffled precariously a few inches and said, “Um, tell me why you want to wear these again?” Cameron laughed and said, “Because they’re fun.” “Yeah, right,” Ellen said, “Fun for who?”

Oprah shared one of her most painful secrets (I posted on this November 1, 2006) — she wears her beautifully stylish high heeled shoes only on the set because they hurt so much. She takes the elevator down to the studio in bare feet, put on the shoes just before she walks out, and then takes them off again immediately after.

I’ve “been there, done that,” but now after B.S. (bunion surgery), my body actually begins to shudder, my teeth clench, and my eyes wince when I even think about wearing anything other than my athletic shoes. I accidentally left my dress shoes at a Christmas party last Saturday night. Fifteen minutes into the party I switched from the Donald Pliner stretchy-fabric, low-heeled pumps, which are as comfortable as they come, at least pre-surgery, into my sturdy leather J. Crew sandals I brought along “just in case.”

Ahhhhh. How do you spell relief? “Lose the shoes.”

“The good news” Dr. Robin Ross, a podiatrist in NY is quoted as saying, “is that the pointy shoe is heading more toward the rounded toe box.”For a list of bunion shoe brands and styles, check out:

Bunion Survivor’s Ebook Guide to
Successful Bunion Surgery & Recovery

This is a fascinating opinion report conducted by the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society:

  • What height heels do you wear most often?
    • 10% 3-inch
    • 20% 2-inch
    • 23% 1-inch
    • 46% Flat
  • Do you ever experience foot pain while wearing high heels?
    • 19% No
    • 25% Yes, with pain after
    • 52% Yes, but only while wearing them
  • If your doctor told you that wearing ANY high heel would lead you to foot surgery in the future would you give up high heels?
    • 41% No
    • 59% Yes
  • Would you have foot surgery if it were the only way you could wear high heels?
    • 9% Yes, for heels
    • 20% Yes, for appearances
    • 71% No

Read more.

Well, it appears orthopedic surgeons and podiatrists will always have a job based on this research.

With the exception now of one pair of 2-inch heels for dressy occasions, all my shoes are flat, and the stretchier and more padded they are, the better. But even at 5’10” with a size 12 foot, I wore 2 1/2-3 inch heels (whenever I could find them) in my late teens and did so until my feet just hurt too much to walk in high heels in my late 30’s. I am paying the price today.

Be smart. Take care of your feet. If the shoe hurts, stop wearing it.

Trust me. Unless you inherited bunions and are in pain, you don’t want bunion surgery.

Bunion Survivor’s Ebook Guide to
Successful Bunion Surgery & Recovery

Shocking photo, isn’t it? Chinese footbinding. After reading about what current shoe fashion trends are doing to women’s feet, you’d think we were just doing the American version of Chinese footbinding given the resulting shape of our feet, the pain, and the increase in bunion surgeries.

I love the look of pointy-toes shoes and boots, but not on my size 12 toes, nor will I endure the pain of wearing them anymore. This is one more hip-hip-hooray for menopause, at least for me. Comfort is more important to me now than fashion. Granted it’s the foot pain factor talking to me more than anything. After years of pushing my bunioned feet into shoes and boots too tight, too high, and too small, I’m dealing with the consequences and they’re not pretty.

“We are definitely seeing an increase in the number of young to middle-aged women coming to us with some sort of foot problems and most of the time it’s down to shoes,” Luke Grainger from Hunter Podiatry in Maitland said.”Five to 10 years ago we didn’t see as many young women with these types of problems but things are changing.”Mr Grainger said shoes like stilettos, platform shoes, boots and pointy-toed shoes could cause a multitude of problems including ankle injuries, bunions, stress fractures along with lower back and knee pain.” more

My friend Patti who had bunion surgery eight years ago on both feet at the same time (it went well for her) says that now she wears only wide-toed European shoes with orthotics and while they’re not attractive, she can walk for miles and teach all day in them.

I just bought a new pair of walking shoes tonight – Saucony Grid Hurricane 8 for $119.00 (outrageous price but my feet are worth it), men’s size 12. It used to bother me that in order to get comfort I had to buy men’s shoes, but now I’m just grateful – I have enough room for my bunions, support for my “neuroma/callous,” and bottom line, I can still walk.

Learn more about the best shoe brands and styles for bunions in my ebook Bunion Survivor’s Guide to Bunion Surgery & Bunion Surgery Recovery.