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?)

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

“Posh Spice has one, a whopper that sticks out of her golden lace thong sandals like a raw pink golf ball. And I have two. One on each foot. Hobbling hordes ‘Bunion? Isn’t that what women get for wearing the wrong shoes?’ a friend asked. True. About 50% of American women get bunions, a statistic that didn’t make me feel any better. I owe mine to my mother. Yes, they are hereditary and no, I have never worn stilettos.’Bunion?’ I asked the doctor. ‘Is there no fancier word? Something in Latin perhaps. Something complicated, more interesting?”Well, bunion is the ancient Greek word for turnip. Does that help?’ the doctor with the orange clogs asked. (*)No, it didn’t.”

BBC NEWS | Americas | Washington diary: Body shock

Even celebrities aren’t immune to the Turnip Disease. And the author of this article (who has a very funny twist on aging) thinks we need to find a different word for bunion too. I sure do. I’ve decided to get back into the world of dating after my surgery (my sister asked, “Would you want to have a first date with a man who was having bunion surgery?” Enough said. Bunions definitely take me back to my paternal grandmother who lived in these really ugly black tie shoes that had a bulge, now that I think of it, the size of “turnip” at her big toe joint. Bunion or turnip, I’m grateful for the new technology and the new right foot I’ll have next week.

What about you? How do you feel about the word “bunion”? What images or memories does it evoke for you? Post your comments below.