The best shoes for bunions

one foot with bunion and one foot in sneaker

Up to 1 in 3 Americans have bunions – a bony bump that forms at the base of the big toe. These can be odd-looking or uncomfortable at best, and downright painful at worst. Bunions occur when some bones at the front of the foot move out of place, causing the tip of your big toe to be pulled toward the smaller toes. This forces the joint at the base of the big toe to protrude.

Once the bunion forms, you may notice that shoes that once fit well are now rubbing against the foot. Bunion prevention starts at your shoes, and symptom mitigation can help in managing the discomfort. The best shoes for bunions will be ones that have good arch support and a roomier toe box and allow for the bunion to swell. 

Non surgical treatments for bunions require a much smaller investment in time and money than surgical methods, so if surgery can be avoided, there are some great treatment tactics that can be utilized.

Bunion prevention

There are several lifestyle changes you can make to help with bunion prevention - before the problem even starts.

  • First, make sure you always wear properly fitting shoes (more about the best shoes for bunions below)
  • Limit high heel use, and wear shoes that have a heel less than 1-2 inches.
  • Exercise your feet: there are many stretches and exercise you can do to improve the strength and mobility of your feet. Try and incorporate exercises like these into your daily routine.
  • Finally, make sure to rest your feet! Bunions often develop in those who are on their feet all day long without the opportunity to rest and recover. If your day-to-day requires a significant amount of standing time, make sure to squeeze in that rest wherever you can!

The best shoes for bunions: what to look for

A low heel

Avoid high heeled shoes as much as possible. If necessary, try and limit their wear to one day at a time, and shorter periods (under six hours at a time). If you are looking to add extra height, go for a wedge or blocky heel rather than a stiletto- those will help better distribute the weight throughout your foot and avoid adding pressure to the ball of your foot.

A roomy toe box

Look for shoes with a wide toe box; this helps avoid adding pressure to the front of your feet and toes. It's not necessary to wear wide shoes, but focus on making sure that your shoes are comfortable from day one.

Arch support

Make sure your shoes have proper arch support, which helps prevent pronation and misalignment of your feet. Everyone can benefit from proper arch support, but it's particularly critical for those with a tendency of developing bunions to avoid pronating - which adds additional pressure and weight to the foot and can push the big toe inwards. Fulton insoles are a great way to add arch support to your shoes. 

Laces

Shoes with laces are less restrictive and allow you to customize the fit of your shoe to be just right. Avoid leather shoes as they have less give and may result in cramping and additional pressure on your toes.

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