What are Bunions?
Bunions are what you get when the Big Toe is pushed towards the other toes, sometimes even overlapping them, causing the joint at the bottom of Big Toe to start protruding. Many doctors and podiatrists will tell you bunions, or hallux abductovalgus, to give them their scientific name, are hereditary, and that the only solution is arch support, orthotic inserts, and even major surgery.
How Can You Tell If You Have Bunions?
Even though bunions present pretty obvious physical symptoms – they’ll often protrude quite dramatically – it’s a condition with a few stages, some of which may seem relatively benign on their own. First things first – is the skin around your big toe joint swollen, red or sore? Is there a bulging bump on the outside of the base of your toe? If so then you may have bunions. These physical symptoms are often accompanied by persistent pain and difficulty moving your big toe, and if you’re dealing with those it’s time to see your doctor!
What Causes Bunions?
Bunions occur when bone or tissue at the big toe joint is forced out of place, which is most often caused by abnormal pressure which forces it to bend, creating a painful lump on the joint. According to conventional wisdom, this pressure is most often a result of an inherited condition, but everything from ill-fitting shoes to a foot injury, to overpronated (flat, with a low arch) feet can enhance the risk of developing symptoms, which, untreated, lead to bunions.
Once you develop bunions, the two main avenues of treatments today are surgery and medication. In terms of medication, you’re looking for pain-relieving medications that reduce swelling, like ibuprofen. Severe bunions may require surgery, especially if the toe deformity becomes particularly severe, or if the pain is incredibly persistent. Surgery is really the LAST resort and a lot of the time people get the surgery but still never address the underlying issues such as ill-fitting shoes.
Ways to Ease Your Bunions, Without Surgery
If you’re waiting to be diagnosed or there’s simply something preventing you from getting surgery, here are some ways to relive your bunions:
Make sure your shoes fit! With the proper space for your feet, there’s less pressure on your bunions. Get your feet properly measured, and seek advice from a footwear specialist or podiatrist.
Taping or splinting your toe can be really helpful in providing support for your toe and reducing irritation on your bunion.
Wearing toe spreaders to help re-align the natural shape of your toes
Avoid activities that increase pain! This might seem like a no-brainer but it’s vital to avoid activities that cause pain, such as standing for a long period of time or playing sports.
Unfortunately treating bunions means lifestyle adjustments!
How To Avoid Developing Bunions
Shoes are the most important things when it comes to prevention. To help stop bunions from ever developing, you need well-fitting shoes with plenty of room. It’s paramount to avoid shoes that squeeze tight, or that cause any kind of cramping or irritation of the toes and foot.
There’s no doubt, then, that bunions are extremely painful and even potentially debilitating.
But are bunions really down to genes?
If we look at successive generations of people who are pushed into narrow, pointy shoes from childhood – what exactly is it we’re inheriting? Bunions, or the footwear that causes them?
This is especially relevant for women, 7 out of 10 of whom have bunions and other foot deformities to some degree – but who are also much more likely to have been pushed into narrow, pointy shoes from childhood.
According to sports podiatrist Dr Ray McClanahan, “Shoes that progressively dislocate the big toes, over the course of a lifetime, cause bunions in nearly all cases.”
Given that, maybe it’s time to rethink what we put on our feet.
Traditional shoes are tapered at the toes, and this design fault (or fashion) can push toes out of alignment over time, one of the key ways in which a bunion can develop.
If you compare the foot shape of people who grow up regularly barefoot with people who don’t, the difference is clear: traditional shoes just aren’t shaped like feet, they’re shaped like shoes. Unfortunately, this means a lot of people wind up with shoe-shaped feet instead of, well, foot-shaped feet. These cramped and squeezed foot conditions are unfortunately the perfect breeding ground for bunions.
This is where minimalist shoes can help. Minimalist shoes are foot-shaped, not shoe-shaped. They give minimal interference in the natural growth and movement of your feet while protecting only from climate and terrain for maximum sensory feedback. They are thin, flexible and wide so feet can move, splay and recoil as close to barefoot as possible.
We believe the perfect shoe must be perfect for your feet: barely-there so they do no harm, letting your feet do their natural thing with a whole lot of barefoot love. (And with less chance of developing bunions).