Anyone who has or has ever had bunions most likely cringes when they even hear the word. They can be so painful that even the thought of walking from the couch to the kitchen is enough to stir up discomfort, much less squeezing their feet into a pair of shoes and going out.
That’s especially true of shoes that are too stiff or even a little too tight. The result is further agitation of that bony bump that has formed on the base of the big toe. If you suffer from bunions, know that they are preventable. Instead of taking pain medications to get you through the day, fight the cause of bunions with proper comfortable shoes.
Sometimes, people are just prone to bunions because of genetics. Other times, they may have arthritis or have suffered from a foot injury that, in turn, causes bunions. What happens is the bone and/or tissue that is supposed to be at the bottom of the big toe sneaks out of place. Then, when there’s heavy pressure placed on the big toe joint, it forces the toe to bend toward the other toes on the foot. This causes a lump on the side of the joint. Squeezing your feet into shoes that don’t support bunions will irritate them more, as well as cause problems like blisters and bursitis. Bunions are no joke. And because feet on their own don’t have a lot of padding, it is important to look for that extra padding in our shoes to avoid irritating that sensitive joint.
Now that you know that cushioning is key to fighting bunions, let’s look at some other basics that you should be looking for in a shoe. One main feature is a wide toe box that is made of a flexible material that doesn’t constrict the already crowded space. If you’re between sizes, always err on the side of caution and get a shoe that’s a size or half size bigger instead of smaller.
Just because they’re called “flats” doesn’t mean they can’t be supportive. While some ballet flats are more for fashion than comfort, the best designers know how to make them look like flats while offering a hidden layer of support. Definitely look for that cushioned layer when trying them on. Because the toe is typically rounded, they should naturally provide some much-needed room in the toe area. Be careful with sizing. You’ll want them maybe a size larger than your typical shoe, but not so big that they’re falling off the foot when you take a step, which will actually cause more irritation in the bunion-prone area. Many women love wearing ballet flats with skinny jeans, but they go with a wide variety of other outfits as well.
When shopping for boots and booties, look for textured rubber soles that absorb shock and allow for added traction. A low heel is best, especially if it is a block heel that allows for extra stabilization. Of course, you’ll want that added cushioned layer as well. You’ll want that wide toe box too, made of a flexible material that moves with your foot, such as leather or suede. Ankle boots go with pretty much anything, while higher boots that come up closer to the knee look great with dresses or over leggings.
Runners have to be extra careful with their shoes since they need added support every time they land on the foot. Even if you’re a casual runner, you’ll need to select the right shoe so you can make running part of a healthy lifestyle instead of an activity that causes you pain and keeps you from being active at all. Look for a lightweight material that doesn’t feel heavy when you pick up your foot to take a stride. Despite being lightweight, it should offer ample cushioning all over, from the ball of the foot to the arches, and to the heels. That all-over cushioning will help distribute the weight more evenly and take the pressure off the bunion area. Then all you’ll need are some women’s shorts that match, and you’ll be ready to get out there.
First, we need to provide a word of caution by saying that heels that are too high will cause your weight to shift to the ball of your foot and your toes, right where those bunions are prone to grow. So stay away from those stilettos. But if there’s an occasion like a wedding or a reunion in your future and you want to wear heels to go with those cute skorts, don’t feel like you have to completely avoid heels — just look for the right kind. Again, they shouldn’t be too high, and the leather should be soft and flexible. There should also be a footbed that’s contoured and cushioned for all-over support. Opt for a round toe box instead of a pointy pair.
If you have shoes that cause bunions, throw them out or donate them, no matter how cute they are or how badly you want them to fit. Replace them with a shoe that works with you in the fight against bunions instead of working against you.