One of the most common foot deformities, bunions can cause a lot of pain and affect your lifestyle. Bunions can limit your ability to wear certain shoes, cause pain when walking and prevent you from doing certain activities or exercises.
Often blamed on genetics or footwear, it is actually our foot type that is one of the greatest contributors to bunion formation. Understanding your foot type and knowing how to prevent bunions can help you avoid a future of foot pain and potential foot surgery.
This guide walks you through a range of products that help prevent bunion progression or ease their symptoms.
What are Bunions?
Bunions are deformities of the big toe joint that develop slowly, in time. A bunion looks like a hard lump on the side of the foot. But that lump is not a type of growth within the foot, like many people believe. It’s actually the shifting of the fist metatarsal (long bone) in the foot that creates the bump.
Although there is no consensus on what causes bunions. One culprit may be the tapering toe-boxes on most conventional shoes. Or, there may be other causes. These include structural defects, medical conditions like flatfoot and gout, and overpronation.
Unfortunately, the only way to get rid of bunions is surgery which means that prevention is the recommended approach to a future of foot problems.
How to Prevent Bunions without Surgery
Luckily, there are less invasive treatments than surgery to reduce the pain that bunions cause. Here are some of the things you can do to decrease the symptoms and stop bunion progression:
• Wear shoes with a wide toe-box
• Choose low-heeled shoes and avoid prolonged high heel wear
• Do foot strengthening exercises like short foot
• Work out your core glutes to keep feet strong and aligned
Our Favorite Bunion Recovery Products
Today there are corrective devices that claim to reverse bunions and prevent foot pain. It can be overwhelming to the consumer. To help you decide which products actually hold some weight, we’ve featured six of the best products for bunion prevention or for pausing the progression of bunions:
Bunion Bootie is a flexible bunion splint that eases the pain that a bunion causes. It does this by stretching the foot muscles and better realigning the big toe.
When you slide the Bunion Bootie over your foot, you can see how the big toe realigns temporarily. This gently stretches the small muscles of the foot and pulls the great toe into its proper position. As a result, the joint sits in a better aligned position and allows more optimal foot mechanics.
The fabric of Bunion Bootie is strong, flexible, and breathable. As it’s ultra-thin, it prevents chafing from shoes, which can cause blisters and corns. You can wear the Bootie when you walk, workout or train barefoot
Designed by functional podiatrist Dr. Emily Splichal, Splay is a toe spacer. This corrective device is made of soft and flexible silicone-like material. It works best in completely flat shoes with flexible soles and a wide toe-box. But you can also use it barefoot.
If you find yourself needing to wear narrow toed shoes, sliding on Splay at the end of the day helps the toes go back to their natural alignment. After wearing the Splay regularly for a few months, you should see some realignment of the big toe.
An added bonus is that using Splay will also strengthen the foot muscles. This means that the spacer can also help restore foot balance and improve gait, posture, and proprioception.
Rescue Loop is the brainchild of fitness pro Ilaria Cavagna, creator of the Feet-Ness workout. It’s an exercise tool that has two double leather loops connected by a spring.
The small loops go around the big toes when you strengthen the small muscles of the foot. And the big loops go around the feet, to strengthen the bigger muscles that connect the foot with the leg.
Used in the Feet-Ness workout, Rescue Loop strengthens your feet. and creates balance in and around the big toe. Exercising 10 minutes twice a week using Rescue LOOP is enough to work out the foot and ankle, according to Feet-Ness.
Pedi Couture Sandals have a comfortable foot-bed, a laid-back style, and come in various strap colors and materials. But what really makes them special is that they have toe-spreaders.
Narrow-toe-box shoes squish your toes together, but these sandals give your toes room to breathe and spread. Spreading the toes is an exercise that relieves some of the pain and discomfort from bunions.
Pedi Couture Sandals gently align the toes which can train them to stay aligned naturally, as they should. This reduces your chances of getting a bunion.
Bonus Bunion Products
These textured insoles are a high-quality product designed by Naboso which is a sensory technology company founded by Dr. Emily Splichal.
The sensory insoles stimulate the small foot nerves to keep your feet strong. The bottom of the foot has nerves that sense texture, pressure, touch, and vibration. Each small foot nerve sends this information to the brain and spine so they can control movement and balance. These nerves need stimulation to function well, and to send the right kind of information to the brain.
Stimulating the nerves in the feet has a foot strengthening benefit which can prevent the progression of bunions. Having healthy foot function contributes to keeping your feet and body in alignment and can prevent overpronation, one of the possible causes of bunions.
Naboso’s partnership with RAD Roller has produced a device specifically designed for tension-releasing therapy of the feet and lower leg. A Neuro Ball has a patented texture on the outside with a small, smooth RAD Roller massage ball on the inside.
Use the Neuro Ball to apply compression to the bottom of the foot. This will stimulate the small receptors that help the foot muscles and tissues relax. Less tension means less compression of the joints and improved mobility.
Doing foot release every day can help you prevent bunions. Dr. Emily Splichal explains in this YouTube video how to to do a 5 point foot release using the Neuro Ball.
If you have a bunion, using the Neuro Ball can’t realign the big toe inward. But doing a foot release can promote optimal foot function and the prevention of bunions.
To avoid bunions or slow their progression, keep your feet strong and healthy. Use corrective devices like Bunion Bootie, Splay, and Pedi Couture Sandals to cue the toe into more natural alignment. Exercise the foot with Feet-Ness Rescue Loop, and massage them with Neuro Ball. And finally, reduce foot pain and stay barefoot strong with Naboso Insoles.