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If you have bunions, you know the pain at the base of your big toe can be impossible to ignore. Wearing shoes that are just the slightest bit too tight or made from a stiff material can be enough to cause total agony.
Bunions can be brought on by a variety of factors, including genetics, inflammatory joint diseases, foot injuries, and arthritis. According to the Cleveland Clinic, bunions form when the bone or tissue at the bottom of the big toe moves out of place. Abnormal movements and heavy pressure on the joint forces the big toe to bend toward the other toes, causing a lump to form on the joint. Wearing shoes that irritate bunions won't just make them hurt more, but they'll also cause other problems, including blisters, arthritis, and bursitis.
“Feet, by design, are not padded with a lot of extra fat,” says Howard Friedman, DPM, of Suffern Podiatry in New York. “So if someone wears a shoe that is creating a pressure point over a bony area, the skin will become red and inflamed, and in some cases cause a blister or wound that can become infected.”
So while you may be tempted to keep wearing your favorite kicks, you should take anything that irritates your feet out of rotation and replace them with something that's more supportive and comfortable.
Your bunions will find solace in shoes with a wide toe box, made from materials with a bit of give, like soft leather or fabric, says Friedman. “The widest point of your foot should correspond with the widest part of the shoe,” says Karen Langone, DPM, a podiatrist based in Southampton, New York.
Paul Langer, DPM, a sports medicine podiatrist who trains athletes at Twin Cities Orthopedics in Minneapolis, Minnesota and is a SuperFeet wellness panel member, also says that choosing shoes to minimize bunion pain comes down to design and construction. "As you would imagine, selecting a shoe to minimize bunion pain regardless of style requires a wider toe box and softer upper materials, such as leather or soft fabric," Dr. Langer says. "High heels increase pressure on the bunion as well so lower heels will help minimize pain," he adds.
He also recommends that people with bunions do some strengthening exercises that activate the small muscles of the feet, using toe stretchers or separators. "Toe spacers, which go between the first and second toes, can also help keep the toe straighter, which can reduce pain as well," Dr. Langer says.
But what you want to avoid are shoes that are too narrow or too small. Matt Gooch, MS, C.Ped, director of product and innovation with Superfeet Worldwide, Inc., says, "Wearing shoes that are misfit is a leading factor in the development of bunions. Once you have a bunion, they often make your forefoot wider than it was originally. So being even more aware of how tight shoes fit around the ball of your foot is essential."
That said, Dr. Langer says the best way to find shoes for bunions is to try them on and see how you feel in them. "Comfort is so personal and subjective. It is best to be able to try on as many shoes as needed to find best option for you," he says.
It may seem like your options within those parameters are limited or orthopedic-looking, but there are actually plenty of bunion-friendly shoes that are anything but. From everyday boots and colorful flats to sexy heels and wedges, here are some of our favorite podiatrist-approved pairs.
Anthony: never heard of him, though if he really did resign from congress to run for president, then has some modicum of respect from me. far too many politicians stay in their current office while campaigning for a different one. some that honestly should be illegal. they were elected to do a job, not to be a glory hound.