Bunions are known to be one of the most common foot problems. This comes as no surprise, since Cleveland Clinic claims that one in three Americans are affected by bunions.
A bunion is a bony bump that forms on the outside of the foot around the base of the big toe. Bunions can form on one or both feet, resulting in foot pain, stiffness and bone deformity.
Once a bunion forms, you may require surgery to fully eradicate the issue, which is why it’s much easier to prevent than to treat. Wearing the right shoes, strengthening the feet, getting adequate rest and talking to a foot specialist are all ways you can prevent bunions.
1. Choose the Right Shoes
First and foremost, we should touch on what causes bunions. Bunions are caused by pressure that compresses the big toe and pushes it toward the second toe. This kind of pressure often comes from wearing shoes that don’t allow your toes to sit in their natural position.
Wearing comfortable shoes with a toe box that properly fits the shape of your feet is key to preventing bunions. When trying on shoes, stand up and walk around. Ensure there is room (around three-eighths to one-half of an inch) between the longest toe and the end of the shoe.
You should be able to comfortably splay your toes out without feeling any rubbing or chafing. Are you noticing any pressure on the sides of your feet and the outer edges of your toes when standing and walking? If so, you might need to get a new pair of shoes!
Stay away from high heels and pointed-toe shoes, as they're proven to be frequent offenders for causing bunions. Of course, bunions won’t form after just a few wears of the wrong shoe, but we highly recommend staying away from these shoes when possible.
2. Stretch and Strengthen Your Feet
Think about the joints in your body. It’s proven that exercise and stretching keep those joints healthy and functioning properly. The same is proven for the joints in your feet, especially the joint in the big toe where a bunion can form.
Try out these foot exercises and stretches that will relieve foot pain and prevent bunions:
- Toe lifts. Keeping your feet flat on the floor, use your hands to manually lift and stretch each toe upward.
- Stretch the big toe. Prop your foot on the thigh of your opposite leg. Use your hands to stretch the big toe outwards and upward.
- Pick something up with your toes. Practice picking up marbles, pens, a towel or another small object from the floor using your toes.
- Toe splay. With your feet flat on the floor, practice using the muscles in your feet to stretch the toes as far and as wide as you can.
- Foot curl and point. Hover your feet above the floor and practice curling the foot downwards to point your toes. Hold this position, then stretch your toes upward and outward. Repeat multiple times.
3. Put Your Feet Up and Rest
One of the most underrated tips for foot health is that rest and recovery are just as important for you feet as they are for your body. Since bunions form under pressure, you leave yourself vulnerable to bunions when you're constantly on your feet.
Whether it’s part of your career or overall lifestyle, being on your feet for prolonged periods calls for rest and elevation when possible. When you’re off your feet at the end of the day, try elevating them above your heart for at least fifteen minutes to improve circulation and reduce swelling or pain.
4. Visit a Podiatrist
While a podiatrist would typically focus on treating bunions, there’s nothing wrong with making an appointment to get an expert’s opinion on prevention. If you’re on your feet a lot, your podiatrist can make recommendations or create custom inserts for your shoes that help reduce foot pain and your likelihood of forming a bunion.
Something else to note is that bunions are often linked to genetics. If someone in your family has bunions, there’s a higher chance that you will develop them too. If this is your reality, you can visit a podiatrist to explore preventative options.
You may also want to seek professional help if you notice any of the following foot-related issues, as they could be related to the early stages of bunions forming:
- Toe deformity
- Corns and calluses
- Pressure and discomfort on the edges of your foot
- Shifting weight off your toes due to discomfort
- Pain when wearing your typical shoes
- Pain when walking or exercising
Preventing Bunions FAQs
Foot conditions like bunions can come with a myriad of questions. From treatment to prevention, we have you covered with answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about bunions.
What is the Main Cause of Bunions?
There is no one way a bunion develops. Instead, the condition is linked to a variety of complications, such as:
- Frequently wearing poorly fitting shoes
- Bunions running in the family
- Having a low arch
- Uneven weight-bearing of your foot
- Foot injuries and overuse of your foot
- Inflammatory forms of arthritis
- Conditions that affect the nerves and muscles of your foot
- Improper fetal foot development
Can I Prevent Bunions Naturally?
As with many conditions, bunions are much easier to prevent than treat. Here are a few tips for naturally preventing bunions:
- Choose shoes that don’t cramp the toes.
- Stretch your feet after being on them for long periods.
- Strengthen your feet with foot exercises.
- Rest and elevate your feet.
- Maintain a healthy weight to reduce excess pressure on your feet.
Wear corrective shoes if you have low arches.
Can You Reverse a Bunion?
The only way to reverse a bunion is through surgery. That said, bunions are manageable, and usually don’t need to be operated on unless recommended by your doctor.
Here are a few ways to treat and reduce the pain caused by a bunion:
- Wear shoes with a wide toe box.
- Take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication.
- Ice the area when it’s swollen.
- Use heat to relieve any soreness in the foot.
- Use footwear accessories that reduce foot pressure.
What Is the Fastest Way To Get Rid of Bunions?
Unfortunately, you can’t get rid of a bunion once it has formed without surgery. It’s important to note that, in many cases, bunion surgery is elective. Many doctors would instead treat the pain caused by the bunion than remove it through surgery unless necessary.
Here’s when to explore the option for surgery with your podiatrist:
- Other treatments have not reduced your pain.
- You continue to feel pain even when wearing proper footwear.
- The bunion is extremely inflamed.
- Your foot becomes deformed.
- You cannot carry out your daily activities due to the pain in your foot.
Put the Right Foot Forward
If you’re still wondering how to prevent bunions, the takeaway is to always wear comfortable shoes that fit your feet properly and won’t add unnecessary pressure to your toes. Sneakers like the KURU ATOM or KURU QUANTUM offer a wide toe box and support in all the right places, making them ideal for bunion prevention.
So, when it comes time to shop for shoes that won’t cause bunions, KURU Footwear is here to help. KURU shoes are designed to deliver all-day comfort and support, even when dealing with bunions or other foot-related health conditions. With KURU, you won’t feel any rubbing, pinching or squeezing, so you can have better days with less foot pain.
Shop KURU’s best shoes for bunions and other foot health conditions today!
- One in three Americans is affected by bunions. Bunions (Hallux Valgus) (December 2020)
- Bunions are caused by pressure. What is Bunion? (June 2022)
- Stretching and exercising keep joints healthy. Exercise and your joints (September 2009)
- Bunions are often linked to genetics. Bunion (August 2018)