Most of us wear ill-fitting shoes, study says

Most of us wear ill-fitting shoes, study says

When was the last time you checked your shoe size?

According to a study of 2,000 people by the British College of Podiatry, one-third of men and more than half of women wear shoes that don't fit properly.

A study by the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society found that a whopping 88 per cent of women in the United States wear shoes that are too small — and 55 per cent have bunions, often due to those ill-fitting kicks.

Pregnancy, injuries, weight changes and other factors can influence the shape and size of our feet, sometimes just by millimetres. We may not realize it, but these subtle changes can often amount to a new shoe size.

"I must say I find it interesting because we do only measure our feet as a child and then don't once we are grown — and just assume we are always the same size," Natalia Barbieri, co-founder and designer of Bionda Castana tells British Vogue.

Online shopping "receives a measure of the blame for shoppers buying the wrong size," Vogue reports, as buyers pick their size without trying shoes on. Even in-store shopping, however, results in women purchasing shoes in familiar sizes without ever consulting with sales assistants to ensure proper fitting.

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So, how do you get the perfect fit? Try shoes on before buying them — in multiple sizes.

"It's the client's responsibility, for sure, that they get the right size," Barbieri says. "They live with the consequences. Regardless of what size you usually take, make sure you try all possible sizes — half size up or down — to make sure you find the perfect fit."

"The only solution? Constant vigilance!" writes Elle's Megan Friedman. "Sizes vary widely between different brands, and even within the same brand, so it's something to be aware of when shopping. Yes, vanity sizing is even a thing with shoes, so shoppers who always pick the same size often don’t get the best fit, experts note. If you’re buying kicks online, order multiple sizes at once, and be sure to try them on late in the day when your feet are biggest."

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Foot experts at Penn State College of Medicine offer a few fitting tips:

"Judge the shoe by how it fits on your foot. Get shoes that conform as nearly as possible to the shape of your foot. Make sure the toe box is big enough."

Shoes with a narrow toe box can put pressure on the big toe and create or accelerate a bunion, Steven L. Haddad, a Glenview, Ill., orthopedic surgeon and president of the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society, tells the Wall Street Journal.

Constricted toes can also result in "hammertoe deformities."

"It's like when your mom said, 'Don't make that face, it will stay that way,'" he says. "It does actually stay that way when you put so much pressure on the toe over a long period of time."

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According to a College of Podiatry press release on foot health, "Make sure there is 1cm between the longest toe and the end of the shoe and make sure the shoes have enough width and depth to accommodate your foot. Choose shoes with a rounded or square toe, no pointed."

There goes those stilettos.

Medicine Net offers another smart shoe-buying rule: "Most of us have one foot that is larger than the other, so fit your shoe to your larger foot."

Read more sizing advice here.

P.S. Don't trade in your tight pointy shoes for flip-flops.