How to prevent bunions

Updated November 21, 2016

Got a big nasty bump on the inside of your foot at the base of your toe? You may have a bunion! Bunions effect one in three American women, and nine in ten cases of bunions occur on women's feet. Orthopaedic doctors diagnose bunions to be a bone misalignment appearing as a wide bony protrusion on the joint between the big toe and the foot. Bunions prevent the sufferer from wearing narrow, fashionable shoes and attractive high heels. Bunions are also painful and, when swelling occurs, it becomes increasingly difficult to stand and walk, and the condition could worsen to the point where surgical correction is required. Prevention is simple, however. This article shows you how to choose footwear that prevents bunions from ever forming, introduces apparatuses you can use to ameliorate any mild bunion conditions, and provides additional tips to keep your feet in great health.

Shop for shoes in the late afternoon when your feet are the most "swollen" and take up the most space. Never shop for new shoes out of pain, when you're already wearing uncomfortable shoes, since this skews your perception of the long-term comfort of the new shoes.

Choose shoes with wide toe boxes that provide ample space to house the widest part of your feet including the area of expected bunion growth. This generally means that you should choose wider shoes. Place your feet firmly on the ground, and place the shoes right next to your feet. Purchase and use only if the shoes are wider than your feet when you are in a standing position.

Choose shoes that have ample thickness and "vertical dome space" in the toe box. This means that the top of the shoes should not squeeze or press down onto your toes and the joint of your big toe. Most experts neglect to point out that vertical pressure onto your toe joint can exacerbate bunion formation just as badly as horizontal pressure from narrow shoes.

Ditch high heels. Heels are a direct cause of bunions, so if you are genetically predisposed to developing bunions, do not wear heeled shoes. Narrow, pointy heels are absolutely forbidden. If you wear them now, you will develop bunions and eventually you won't be able to wear them anyway. If you must gain height with shoes, avoid heels that exert pressure onto the toe joint and force your toes in an odd direction. Go for comfortable wedges, platforms, and clunky heels that rise less than two inches off a horizontal base, making sure they evenly balance and disperse the pressure along the entire bottom of your feet. Heels that force you to exert all body weight onto one single point at the ball of your feet are just as bad as narrow, pointy shoes that stimulate bunion formation.

Go barefoot. Ditch your shoes whenever you can. Develop a household habit of removing shoes. Walk around the park on grass in your bare feet for 20 minutes a day.

Insert orthopaedic padding in your shoes when necessary to make each pair of shoes you wear on a daily basis as comfortable, supportive, and as forgiving as possible. Cushioned sports socks, bunion pads and cushions can also help, but make sure you buy larger sized shoes to make room for such padding rather than allow your shoes to get crowded and uncomfortable, conditions that cause bunions in the first place.

Incorporate food massages, foot soaks, and other foot therapies that relieve foot pressure and keep the muscles, ligaments and joints in your feet flexible and soft.


Your feet are a complex, incredible biological miracle full of nerves, ligaments, joints, and important pressure points. Having healthy feet is a huge contributor to great general physical and mental health, so keep your feet happy.


Don't let vanity set in. It's easier said than done, to help you fight the urges to slip into pretty heels: just remember that bunions will ruin your chances with heels permanently if you don't take preventive precautions now! Some bunions require surgical intervention. Consult your medical care professional when necessary. This article is not intended to diagnose, prevent, or treat a medical condition. Seek advice of a professional orthopaedic doctor to ensure safety and effective treatment of foot problems.

Things You'll Need

  • Comfortable shoes
  • Orthopaedic inserts
  • Bunion cushions and pads
  • Bunion splints and braces (optional)
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