Choosing The Right Shoes For Bunions
By Amira Daugherty
If you put a lot of pressure on your feet, you may have bunions- and you are not alone. Nearly one in every three Americans (particularly women and older adults) have bunions that cause them a great deal of discomfort. Thankfully, there are ways to alleviate some of this pressure and discomfort, one of the easiest of which is to pick shoes that are designed with you in mind!
A bunion is a bony bump that forms on the outside of the big toe. They are often caused by:
- Genetics that cause a faulty foot structure (excessively flexible foot ligaments, abnormal bone structure, etc.)
- Flat feet
- Standing for extended periods of time
While these causes aren’t typically reversible, you can alleviate a lot of the strain of bunions by avoiding shoes that are too tight, small, or narrow. These kinds of shoes cause your toes to crowd together, putting excess pressure on your big toe. Doing something as simple as selecting the right shoes can prevent larger issues like:
- Difficulty walking due to pain
- Persistent foot pain or foot pain that comes and goes
- Decreased flexibility in your big toe
- Red, inflamed skin on the side of your big toe
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A SHOE
If you develop a bunion, there are certain features that you should look for in every shoe to prevent further pain and discomfort. These features are: 
- Stability and support: It is important to find a shoe that has a stable and supportive guiding structure and good arch support because it will help you maintain a neutral foot positioning and stride. This will prevent your arches from collapsing and keep your foot from over pronation (rolling inward). Good stability and support will help your foot move the way it is supposed to, and it reduces the amount of pressure placed on your big toe as you push off the ground while walking or running.
- Shock absorption: A shoe with a high-quality sole and ample cushioning will significantly reduce the force out on your entire foot which in turn reduces the amount of pressure placed on your big toe.
- Adjustable Depth Shoes: Not only do shoes with adjustable depth make it easier to accommodate an orthotic (a prescribed, custom insole), but it also provides the room inside of your shoe to allow your toes to spread out naturally (which would exacerbate the pain of your bunion).
- Flexible and breathable: It is important to surround your toes and bunion with forgiving materials that allow your toes to move freely and your feet to expand. So, say yes to materials like lycra and say no to unforgiving materials such as rigid leather which will create a tight environment for your toes.
WHAT KIND OF SHOES ARE BEST FOR BUNIONS?
Now that you know what to look for in a shoe, you’re probably wondering what styles include these elements. Thankfully, there are some descriptors that will let you know when a shoe is for you:
- Low heeled, supportive/ flexible/ wide toe box:
- Extra depth/ double depth
○ Selecting shoes with a quarter to a half inch of extra depth will prevent pressure on the tops of your toes and allow you to add extra cushioning and padding to your shoe without them becoming too tight. This is especially helpful for those who have already developed bunions since you will probably need to add a pad in your shoe to alleviate bunion pain.
- Comfort fit
○ In order for this descriptor to actually be effective, it is extremely important to get your feet measured and find well-fitting shoes. This is important for bunion prevention and bunion comfort. A shoe that is too tight can cause your toes and bunion to rub against the inside of your shoe causing discomfort. A shoe that is too wide will cause you to put excess pressure on your toes during the gait cycle. Your podiatrist can assist with foot measurements or you can follow these instructions on properly measuring your feet for a suggested shoe size.
At FlowFeet, we prioritize your foot health at all times! On our site, it is easy to start your journey toward a better shoe experience. See a curated selection of shoes designed with bunions in mind.
We hope that this gives you some peace of mind on your journey toward better foot health!
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