There’s nothing like buying a gorgeous pair of shoes only to discover that they really hurt to walk in. It might have less to do with the shoes themselves though, and more to do with the fact that you’re buying the wrong size reports The Wall Street Journal.
Foot sizes can actually change dramatically, even in adulthood, yet chances are you’ve stuck with the same shoes size since when you stopped growing in your teen years.
The College of Podiatry, based in the U.K. conducted a study of 2,000 adults and their shoe size, and more than a third of men and nearly half of women admitted buying shoes that didn’t fit properly. The study also concluded that the average shoe size is up about two sizes since the 1970s.
No surprise, stilettos top the list in the study as the most painful shoe style, though it isn’t just stilettos that can be painful. According to a 2014 survey from the American Podiatric Medical Association almost a quarter of people who wear flats, boots, or flip-flops reported that the shoes made their feet hurt. Two thirds of the respondents to that study said they wanted more-comfortable shoes.
Wearing shoes that hurt can have more severe consequences than just being uncomfortable. Shoes with a narrow “toe box”—the front part of the shoe—by pushing the big toe in can create a bunion. Shoes that constrict the toes can resulting in what are known as “hammertoe deformities.”
Bottom line: Don’t assume you’re a certain shoe size just because you were when you started wearing adult-sized footwear. Get your feet properly measured, and even then don’t consider that size to be the holy grail since shoes sizes vary greatly between brands, and change as we age.