Bunions affect around 23% of adults and 35.7% of people over the age of 65.
The condition may be common, but that the pain associated with bunions is intense. If you’re a runner, then you may find that the foot condition disrupts that activity you love.
Luckily, running with bunions isn’t impossible. But, you will need to practice some preventative measures if you want to take part in the exercise.
In this article, we’ll discuss the medical condition and some ways to reduce the pain caused by bunions on the feet.
What are Bunions?
A bunion is a painful bump that develops around the big toe joint. It occurs when the big toe leans against the second toe, creating a new bone structure.
The cause of the leaning is abnormal stress placed on the metatarsophalangeal joint. Bunions can also occur on the base of the pinky toe. These types are referred to as a bunionette.
The bunion that forms becomes gradually more pronounced and painful with age. Bunions, or hallux valgus, affects women disproportionately over men.
Bunions are caused both by genetic predispositions and lifestyle choices, like wearing tight shoes. If you want more information about bunions and their causes, then check out our page here.
Does Running With Bunions Make Them Worse?
Running won’t make your bunions worse, but bad running shoes will. Shoes that press your big toe in toward your foot will do permanent damage to your joints.
Unfortunately, the pointed-toe design that damages feet so badly is one of the more popular running shoe models.
So what features should you look for in a shoe when you run with bunions?
Find a Wide and Spacious Shoe
When shopping for a bunion-friendly running shoe, you need to look for footwear that’s wide enough to accommodate the bunion, but still firm enough to support your instep.
You should be able to fully spread your toes out. You want a sole that remains flexible throughout the run.
Also, make sure that the heel on your shoes is flat for correct alignment. Avoid any shoes that provide any amount of toe spring. This design lifts the toe and causes a variety of foot issues.
Remember that if you’re serious about bunion pain treatment, then you will need to change all of your shoes — not just the running ones.
One problematic pair of shoes can cause irreparable damage. High heel shoe and pointed-toe slip-on shoes are out of the picture now.
You can also make existing shoes more comfortable by adding gel inserts or similar arch support devices.
Choose the Right Socks
Thick and cushioned socks are the enemy of bunions. Often the nerves are so swollen that even a few millimeters of added material can cause intense pain. Instead, look for running socks that are thin and lightweight.
You should also look for anti-blister technology. This feature will reduce the friction that causes painful welts.
Practice Yoga — It Helps
Yoga is the secret weapon against bunions for two reasons:
- It helps the pain physically
- It helps the pain mentally
In terms of physical pain, certain yoga stretches can help realign your ankles and knees. But it can also help you manage the pain in your head.
New evidence suggests that the practice of yoga is particularly effective in reducing the strength of pain through mental awareness.
The fitness activity already shows promising potential in reducing back pain for individuals. So, make sure you add yoga as a warm-up or warm-down for running.
Apply Ice After Workouts
Running forces blood to circulate your bunions which can cause swelling. As such, it’s important to ice your big toe joint and the surrounding area. Ice will reduce the swelling of the bunion and relieve some of the pain.
Try Certain Types of Stretches
Certain toe and foot exercise can increase blood flow to your feet while naturally correcting joint problems. Here are some of our favourite exercises for relieving bunion pain before a run:
- Shin release
- Toe extender
- Calf releases
- Big toe abduction
- Calf raises
- Towel curls
- Pick up marbles with your toes
- Walk barefoot on a sandy beach
Take Pain Medicine for Flare-ups
If you experience intense bunion pain before or after you work out, then take some pain medication. Ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) are both two good options. The medication can control some of the pain and reduce swelling.
Massage Your Bunions
Next time you’re watching television give yourself (or have a nice partner volunteer) a bunion massage.
These aren’t gentle rubs — it’s a deep tissue dive to find the pressure point. All bunions have a trigger point in the nerve. Massaging it for an hour or so a day can greatly reduce the strain.
If no types of conservative treatments work on your bunions, then you might need to consider surgical options. We recommend surgery only if the pain in your foot is excruciating—enough to interfere with your daily life.
However, it’s important to remember that sometimes surgery can do more damage than good. After the surgery, you will find less flexibility in your big toe.
There is a 15% that the surgeon won’t be able to remove the bunion.
Never get surgery for cosmetic purposes. It likely won’t look good and there is a chance that the bunion will reoccur.
Make sure you exhaust the non-surgical treatments before consulting your physician about the procedure.
Try the Bunion Sleeve® for Painless Correcting
One great addition to running with bunions is gear made specifically reducing pain while you’re on your feet. One piece of equipment is our Bunion Sleeve®.
The sleeve is an ultra-thin corrector that you can wear underneath your shoes. The lightness and comfortable nature make it perfect for active lifestyles.
Or, you can check out our 2-in-1 Bunion Guard. The product simulates a natural separation between your big and second toe which eases the tension placed on your bunion. Check it out in the link here.