Bunions Be Gone: The Surprising Shoe Secrets to Happy Feet

November 5, 2023

Have you ever noticed a bony bump at the base of your big toe and wondered what it is? That’s what doctors call a “bunion.” It’s a common foot issue that can cause a lot of discomforts, and believe it or not, your shoes might be the culprit!

What Exactly is a Bunion?

A bunion looks like a bump on the side of your big toe. It forms when your big toe starts leaning towards your second toe instead of pointing straight ahead. This unnatural angle creates a bump on the side, which can become sore and swollen.

The Shoe Connection

You might be surprised to learn that the shoes you wear can actually shape your feet over time. If you’ve ever seen a baby’s shoe, you’ll notice it’s wide at the toes – that’s because it’s designed to match the natural shape of a baby’s foot. But as we grow up, our shoes often become narrower, especially around the toes.

Many adult shoes, even athletic ones, have a narrow “toe box” – that’s the part of the shoe that surrounds your toes. When the toe box is too tight, your toes get squished together. Over time, this squeezing can push your big toe out of alignment, leading to a bunion.

Why Do Bunions Happen?

It’s a common myth that bunions are just genetic, something you inherit from your parents. While your family history might make you more prone to developing them, bunions are often a result of the shoes we wear. Shoes with a narrow toe box force our toes into an unnatural position, and if we wear these kinds of shoes for years, we might end up with a bunion.

Can You Prevent Bunions?

The good news is that you can take steps to prevent bunions or stop them from getting worse. Here’s what you can do:

  • Choose the Right Shoes: Look for shoes with a wide toe box that gives your toes plenty of room to move. Your shoes should match the natural shape of your feet, not the other way around.
  • Give Your Toes a Workout: Believe it or not, your toes need exercise too! Simple toe stretches and exercises can strengthen your feet and help keep your toes in the right position.
  • Check Your Footwear: If you’re an athlete or someone who stands a lot, make sure your athletic shoes aren’t too tight around the toes. And if you wear high heels often, try to limit the time you spend in them since they can put extra pressure on the front of your foot.

What If You Already Have a Bunion?

If you’re already dealing with a bunion, don’t worry – there are ways to manage the discomfort:

  • Padding and Taping: Sometimes, cushioning the bunion and taping your foot can help relieve the pain. Use of toe spacers can be quite helpful.
  • Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can teach you exercises to relieve pain and prevent the bunion from getting worse.

For many people, changing footwear and doing foot exercises can make a big difference.


Bunions might be common, but they aren’t something you have to live with and you are not inevitably needing surgery. By understanding the role of footwear and taking care of your feet, you can keep your toes happy and healthy. Remember, your feet carry you through life, so it’s worth looking after them!