Question for The Boot Guy: The big toe joint in my right foot aches after wearing steel toed shoes. I started out with steel toed dress shoes, tried them without soles. Then I bought a stiffer soled mid ankle workboot with: just the soles or by replacing the soles twice with two different types of insoles. The pain is just getting gradually worse. Sizing should be right. I went to a specialized store and they suggested half a size to a full size bigger than my regular size. Help please! :)
Ouch! It may not be totally related to your steel toe shoes, since you are not describing the steel toe rubbing, but describe it as joint pain. It sounds to me like you are experiencing turf toe. The name comes from something golfers and tennis players get in their big toe joint. It happens to golfers because the follow through swing puts a lot of pressure on the big toe. Tennis players put a lot of stress on the big toe when playing too. But it can be caused by an injury. I suggest you see a foot Doctor about your pain.
The best solution is to immobilize the toe from bending. You can get special flat insoles that have a piece of flat spring steel under Them. They keep the big toe joint from bending and allow it to heal. It works very well. I've had some luck just making my own using some spring steel and grinding it to shape and placing under the insoles. There are also special rigid graphite insoles made for this.
Here is a YouTube video about turf toe.