By Rehan Iqbal
If you have a penchant for wearing high heels, cowboy boots or other pointy-toed shoes that tend to force your foot forward, you are setting yourself up for bunions. These bony projections on the inner side of the foot at the big toe joint form when the bones of that joint are shifted out of alignment and put under pressure.
While there is some hereditary component to the development of bunions, doctors and podiatrists agree that poor footwear choices play a major role in the development and worsening of this condition. What are the right shoes for preventing and living with bunions? In this article, we will share information about making smart choices in footwear to help you avoid bunions, or (if it’s too late) to help you live with them fairly comfortably. Read on to learn more.
What Types Of Shoes Are Ideal for Bunions?
Any low-heeled, supportive, flexible shoe with a wide, deep toe box is helpful in preventing the development of bunions. A roomy toe box allows plenty of space around your toes so that you can wiggle them freely. Shoes should be wide enough to place no pressure on your bunion. Heels should be no more than two inches high. Any higher, and they will force your toes into the end of the shoe, resulting in pressure on your bunion.
If you tend to feel pressure on the tops of your toes, look for shoes that have a quarter to a half inch of extra depth built in. This is especially helpful if you tend to get corns or calluses on your toes or on the soles of your feet. Additionally, having extra depth built in allows you to add cushioning as needed. Sometimes a pad added to alleviate ball-of-foot pain can help relieve bunion pain as well.
Your first step in getting a good fit is correct measurement. Your podiatrist can surely measure your feet accurately. Your second-best choice is a high quality, specialty shoe store where the sales people are trained to measure feet properly. Many high-end athletic shoe stores offer this service.
The Importance Of Finding The Right Shoe Size
Well-fitted shoes can help you make it through your day comfortably, even if you already have large and uncomfortable bunions. Some bunions are excruciatingly painful in the wrong shoes and practically unnoticeable in well-chosen, properly fitted shoes.
Where Can You Buy Good Shoes For Bunions?
Begin by visiting your doctor or your podiatrist. A medical professional can measure your feet correctly and provide good advice and recommendations regarding footwear. If your feet are badly deformed, you may need to see an orthotist to have custom footwear designed and manufactured; however, this is unusual.
Once you know your shoe size and what to look for, you should have little trouble finding comfortable, accommodating shoes at local shoe stores. Take some time to try on a few different types of supportive, high quality shoes. This is a good way to educate yourself as to what brands work best for you. Armed with that knowledge, you can save some money, enjoy a wider selection and shop with confidence by catalog or online.
When Shopping for Good Bunion Shoes, Follow These 10 Guidelines:
1. Look for comfortable shoes that also please your eyes. If you feel ugly in your shoes, you won’t want to wear them.
2. Do your shoe shopping at the end of your day because your feet will be at their largest.
3. Choose shoes that can be adjusted via straps or laces for a more customized fit.
4. Accept the possibility that you may need to start wearing wider, larger shoes.
5. Look for shoes with good arch support to help ease bunion pressure.
6. Get a good fit in the heel to avoid slipping, friction and blisters.
7. Look for shoes with an upper made of stretchy fabric or mesh.
8. Try both shoes on and walk around in them a bit before buying.
9. Buy shoes that are “foot-shaped”, not pointy-toed.
10. Choose heels no higher than two inches.
Tips To Help You Choose the Right Shoe Size – Presented by Pallas
Modify Existing Footwear
If you are not able to buy new shoes right now or cannot find the shoes you want at the moment, you may be able to modify some of your old shoes to make do in a pinch. You can purchase a shoe stretcher, or visit a high quality shoe store or a shoe repair shop to have leather shoes or boots stretched to accommodate your bunion.
If you have some shoes that offer enough space but not enough support, the natural solution is to add orthotics. Simple, inexpensive shoes such as leather moccasin slippers can be transformed into comfortable, supportive, bunion-friendly casual footwear with the right inserts.
Know How To Put Your Shoes On!
Once you’ve found the right shoes, make the most of them by putting them on correctly. Sometimes people choose shoes that are too small because they feel there is too much sliding and movement in a larger size. If you put your shoes on properly and use all the features intended, you can help your foot stay in place inside the shoe.
In this video, a Certified Pedorthist demonstrates the right way to put on and fasten shoes so that they will stay put and provide plenty of space for toes (and bunions) in the toe box.
Learn Your Correct Shoe Size and Correct Shoe Fit
- With just the right fit, you shouldn’t need a lot of add-ons, but if your bunion is painful at first, you may want to give it a bit more protection with a bunion pad made of felt, moleskin or infused with gel. Get these at your shoe store, drug store or online.
- Silicone toe spacers, toe crests and other soft, cushy devices help position your toes properly for good alignment. This is especially helpful if you suffer from hammer toes and/or cross-over toes.
- Always wear good quality, absorbent, cushioned socks when you wear closed shoes. This helps guard against developing calluses and blisters while adding a little customized support.
- Arch supports help lift the middle of your foot. This, in turn, positions your big toe joint more correctly and helps relieve painful pressure.
- Full sole shoe inserts or those designed to support specific areas of the foot can add to your comfort.
Take Good Care Of Your Feet
Choosing the right footwear can make a huge difference in your overall health. If you can avoid wearing pointy-toed, tight-fitting, high-heeled shoes throughout your life, you will be doing your feet and your general health a huge favor.
Failing that, switching to good-looking, sensible, comfortable shoes as soon as possible can help you avoid damage to your feet and the development of bunions. If you already have bunions, wearing the right kind of shoes will relieve your pain and prevent worsening of your condition.
If you choose to continue wearing torturous shoes, you open the door to complications such as:
Bursitis: Inside your joints is a fluid sac called the bursa. This acts as a cushion to help prevent bone-on-bone friction inside your joints. Constant pressure and misalignment causes this sac to become swollen, inflamed and painful.
Hammer Toe: Shoes that squeeze your toes and force them into unnatural positions will cause your middle toes to bend painfully and permanently.
Metatarsalgia is inflammation, swelling and pain in the ball of the foot.
Without surgery, bunions cannot typically be cured, but wearing the right footwear can help resolve some of the pain and suffering that accompanies this condition. Knowing your shoe size and wearing comfortable, supportive shoes is an easy, affordable, common sense way to prevent and deal with bunions.