What are bunions exactly?
Basically, a bunion is a misalignment of the joint at the base of the big toe, where the big toe (Hallux) meets the foot (the metatarsophalangeal joint). This misalignment can cause inflammation, redness, tenderness, and pain. It can also cause additional bone formation. It is a progressive deformity, meaning that it can get worse over time.
What causes bunions?
There are many factors that can contribute to bunions: abnormal foot function and mechanics (such as over pronation - a common cause of bunions in children, abnormal anatomy of the MTP joint, and genetic factors). Abnormal biomechanics can lead to joint and muscle imbalance and instability in the joints, thus causing a bunion. Tight-fitting shoes, especially those with narrow toes and/or high heels, can exacerbate the condition and increase the pain associated with it.
What can you do about them?
A) Try getting some shoes with a wider toe bed and very little, or no, heel rise (minimalist or barefoot shoes, for example). You want space to wiggle your toes. This doesn’t mean you have to throw out all your nice kicks, just use your heels and narrow-toed shoes for special occasions and not as your everyday footwear.
B) Stretch and manipulate your toes, feet, and calves. Keep your feet functional and limber. There are many different things that you can do, so I will just outline a few here:
C) You can also buy toe spacers (such as “Correct Toes” and “Yoga Toes”). Some can be worn in your shoes, and others are to be worn for a brief period while barefoot. A few minutes a day can really make a difference.
Even if you don’t have a bunion, these tricks are good for everyone: we all need to show our feet a little more love - they work so hard for us every day!