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’m sitting in the waiting room at my car service center (Acura Kearny Mesa in San Diego – they’re great! They even provide free wireless service!) waiting for the news about whether my right rear brake needs to be repaired (interesting – I wonder if there’s any metaphor here – my right foot is my bunion surgery foot that needs to be repaired again.

The latest issue of Vogue was calling to me from the coffee table so I picked it up and lo and behold, I opened to a page (p. 420) for a $15 discount on Yoga Toes if you use the coupon code VOG at www.yogapro.com or call 1-800-488-8414. This is great news for you! If you haven’t tried this product, you will LOVE it!

You may remember me telling you in a previous post or two how much I LOVE these toe muscle stretchers. I use them at the end of the day, I use them when I meditate, and I take them with me when I travel. They’ve really helped manage the post-surgery pain on my right foot and relieve aching on my left foot after a full day of standing and walking.

Love your feet; they’ll take you anywhere you want.

For more bunion surgery recovery resources, check out
Bunion Survivor’s Guide to Successful Bunion Surgery & Recovery

Question from Diane: I’m told I’ll be off work for a 1 week, then sitting at work for 2 weeks. What is the actual recovery time? My job is marketing at a hospital for a nursing home. A lot of walking. I’m very active.

Answer from Smiling Walker: Recovery time, from everyone I’ve talked with, as cliché as it sounds, is different for everyone, but within a range. My surgeon said 4-6 weeks before you’re walking without effort, and my 2nd opinion doctor said 6-8 weeks before full pressure on your foot and up to 1 year before the foot resolves into its new pattern.

I can tell you this, I pushed the envelope with walking, and I’m paying the price. My doctor said if I followed his rules exactly, I’d have no problems. I’ve had problems with slow healing and more swelling than normal, which they’re attributing to too much time on my feet too soon. I gradually built up from the 10 minutes per hour the first week to 20 minutes the second week, and in the third week, I felt so good I went out for a one hour walk (very slowly) and I think that’s when I may have created more inflammation and slowed the bone growth.

Inflammation is a big concern with healing, and that can show up as redness, swelling, but more curiously to me, as heat on the foot. The idea is to keep the foot cool and quiet. If I were to do it over, I’d have spent less time walking around and more time with my foot elevated those first three weeks. My concern was losing cardiovascular strength while laying around. Now I know that I could have done upper body and core exercises while keeping my feet quiet (but part of me was relieved not to feel compelled to exercise during that time. Rest is good.

It’s challenging because you’ll feel fine and your foot is so tightly bound and the screw is holding things in place that you think you can run a marathon (well, not quite, but you’ll understand once you’re in recovery).

When I went back for my 2 month checkup, I compared feet with women in the waiting room. One woman had no pain, was in a tennis shoe and was walking normally at six weeks. I was still very swollen and experiencing pain, but again, had two procedures, while she had only one. Another woman was back in for a second surgery on the same foot from three years earlier with a different doctor because the bunion had grown back and she was still feeling pain.

I’ve learned a lot since deciding on bunion surgery and one thing I can tell you for sure is that the foot is an amazing gift that I overlooked for too long and a much more complex living organism than I ever anticipated that affects EVERYTHING you do.

If this insight was helpful to you, I’d love to know how it helped you. And do let me know what you decide, how the surgery goes, and if you have more questions, be sure to email me.

Bunion Survivor’s Ebook Guide to
Successful Bunion Surgery Recovery


Bunion Surgery Recovery One Foot at a Time

Photo: The Aircast is a life-saver. Two weeks post bunion surgery on my left foot. Right foot is next. 

There are so many bunion post-surgery and recovery details that I didn’t think of until after the fact. Here are 12 tips I’ve learned to make it easier for you to successfully recover from bunion surgery:

1.  GET A HANDICAP PASS. Went out to get the mail and lunch today. I wish I’d gotten a handicap pass. Not sure where to apply for one, but will look into it. (So many details you don’t think about until after the fact.)

2.  WEAR YOUR WALKING CAST BOOT EVEN IF YOU FEEL GREAT. Drove to the post office. Wore my driving boot to the car and in the car and the “Aircast” boot, which looks like a (very) big ski boot, into the post office and to the restaurant. What a difference that walking cast makes! It’s tight but I feel secure in it and there’s only a little aching after about 15-20 minutes, which is my sign to get my leg up, which I do.

3.  ARRANGE FOR AN AUTOMATIC SHIFT CAR IF YOU HAVE A STICK SHIFT. Today I stopped at the beach after a quick Mexican lunch (is that an oxymoron?) at Roberto’s. I reclined in the car (thanks Kim for exchanging cars so I could drive an automatic shift), put my foot up across the center dash board and took a 1/2 hour siesta. I get tired easily still, so even though I so want to be out in the world, I come home, put my leg up and rest. Napping is good.

4.  ICE, ICE, ICE AND TAKE ARNICA. No noticeable swelling beyond what I originally experienced the first day. Bruising is intensifying on the sole of my foot. The bandage is covering the top, however, my 3rd, 4th, and 5th toes are slightly yellow and blue. I wonder what it would have been like if I hadn’t iced and taken the Arnica Montana homeopathic remedy (thanks Mimi for the reminder not to touch the pills) every day since surgery?

5.  WEAR YOUR BOOT AT NIGHT IN CASE YOU FORGET YOU JUST HAD SURGERY AND GET UP TOO QUICKLY. I sleep with the blue driving boot on at night just in case I wake up and need to move quickly, but during the day, I keep my foot unbooted and propped on a long couch pillow from thigh to toe either on the bed or couch . Works great.

6.  PUT PRESSURE ON YOUR HEEL. I walk from my bed or couch to the bathroom without the boot on and with most pressure on my heel. I’m only walking about 10 feet, and since I’m not feeling pain, I imagine I’m helping my foot heal with the slight movement, although I do wonder if the bone might be moving when I walk but that screw is supposed to make it seamlessly tight. I guess I’ll find out with next x-ray.

7.  ANKLE ROLLS FOR CIRCULATION. I exercise my foot with ankle rolls – 10x each way on the hour. As well, I wiggle my toes and flex my feet back and forth. It feels really good to do that. Sometimes it feels like my foot is falling asleep so the movement seems very important to keep circulation moving.

8.  EXERCISE WHILE YOU’RE HEALING. I’m exercising lightly doing leg lifts, crunches, bike pedals, and modified push ups on my knees – 10 to 20 of each. Read yesterday that the body heals faster with exercise.

9.  MOOD SWINGS MEAN ASK FOR MORE EMOTIONAL SUPPORT. My mood wavers up and down. Being single and living alone with most friends at least 30-40 minutes away makes it lonely for me. Thank God I had 4 days at Lorna’s in the beginning and now the phone, my laptop, an internet connection and the hummingbirds that feed outside my window every few minutes.

10.  BE GRATEFUL AND VISUALIZE WALKING. When I feel low, I get grateful for my new foot and all the kind people and goodness that surrounds me and I think a lot about walking again in 3 weeks and how good that will feel. That excites me!

11.  DON’T MESS WITH YOUR BANDAGES. This one is tough! My next appointment is next Monday. I wish I could change the bandage now. My 2nd toe incision was still bleeding a bit when they redid the bandage 3 days after surgery so the bandage looks nasty. But all seems well along the edges and I’m not showing any signs of infection.

12.  FASTER BONE HEALING? I’m told bone heals in 6-8 weeks and today I read that toe bones heal faster with screws in it. I wonder if that’s similar to baked potatoes that cook faster with nails pushed through the middle from end to end the long way? 🙂 Whatever the case, feet are amazing and healing energy is a miracle. Go feet!

Are aching feet keeping you from logging the miles you want? Seventy percent of women have a bunion, hammertoe, or other foot problem that can become uncomfortable enough to hobble any fitness walker. <more>

This is a great article with three foot exercises you’ll definitely want to try. While my right foot is healing, I can do these on my left foot. Who knows, maybe it will prevent bunion surgery on my left foot.

The author of the article, Maggie Spilner is a great resource and inspiration for walking and foot care. I had the pleasure of meeting her when we were both speaking on a cruiseship (and went through a hurricane together).
One thing I’ve learned from this bunion surgery is the importance of exercising your feet and caring for them in the same way you do your face, hands, or any other part of your body. What’s amazing to me now, after learning so much about bunions and foot care is how little attention most people pay to their feet and all the beautiful gifts our feet give us in the way of living a full life.

I realize now that if I’d gotten myself to a podiatrist years ago when my feet started aching, maybe I could have prevented surgery. Don’t make the same mistakes I have; if your feet hurt, get them checked out and do these basic exercises in this article every day and save your feet.

Learn more about bunion exercises in my ebook, Bunion Survivor’s Guide to Bunion Surgery and Bunion Surgery Recovery.

“People seem to think it’s normal to have foot pain, but it’s not,” says Mark B. Friedman, a podiatrist in Albany, N.Y. “No pain is normal. It’s a problem if there’s pain.”

Only a callous heel would neglect feet | www.azstarnet.com

How long have you walked in pain? I had no idea that podiatrists are usually the first to diagnose other physical problems, especially diabetes. Thank goodness I don’t have that but I have had foot pain since my teens – a combination of genetics (my paternal grandmother and mother) and wearing high heels with pointed toes.

I’ve become accustomed to foot pain (on my big toe and the ball of my foot) that I didn’t think to do anything about it until six months ago.started feeling sharp pains in the ball of my foot during my NIA movement class (what a great form of play and exercise for the feet – definitely give it a try!).

NIA is done barefoot to connect you to your body with more awareness. I was definitely more aware! It got to the point where I had to start wearing tennis shoes for padding because it felt like a dull scissors was trying cut through a thick callous that’s formed under the ball of my 2nd and 3rd toe joints.

But what really pushed me over the edge to action was when I realized noticed not only the pain but also that my 2nd toe was traveling west and climbing on to “The Great Toe” as my podiatrist calls it. I remember my Grandmother’s twisted feet (not as in weird, well, yes they were weird looking too, but as in pretzel forming) and I was certainly headed down that path without intervention. The podiatrist said it will only keep getting worse without surgery. Yikes. I LOVE TO WALK and I will do whatever it takes to keep my feet healthy so I can keep walking the rest of my life. I promise. How about you?

Read the rest of the story at “Bunion Survivor’s Ebook Guide to Bunion Surgery & Bunion Surgery Recovery.”