Bunions are painful, bony lumps that form at the base of your big toe. The bunion can force your big toe to turn sideways—towards your other toes—which can make it hard for you to walk or wear shoes. There are many factors that can trigger the development of bunions in people who are susceptible to them, but there are things you can do to protect your feet. Here are three tips for preventing bunions.
Wear shoes with wide toes
In most cases, bunions are caused by too-tight shoes. When you jam your feet into shoes that are too narrow, your toes get compressed, and the pressure on your big toe can lead to a bunion. To avoid this, choose shoes that are the right width for your feet.
Have your feet professionally measured to find out your accurate foot width, and make sure to try on your shoes before you buy them. If you like to buy shoes online, don't feel tempted to keep shoes that don't fit properly. Cute shoes that are a bit too tight can lead to bunions, so it's best to send them back and order another, wider pair instead.
Avoid wearing high heels
High heels are stylish and can help you look professional at work or dressed-up on your days off, but they can lead to bunions. When you wear heels, the weight of your body is pushed forwards, onto your toes. This forces your toes into the pointy, narrow toe box of the shoes, and your big toe will be forced sideways into your other toes. Over time, this can actually make your toes deformed.
To avoid bunions, choose lower heels. When you wear heels that are three inches high, your toes are under as much as six times more stress than they would be if you were wearing shoes with a one-inch heel. Stylish flats that don't compress your toes are another great option. If you're wondering if your work shoes will put you at risk of bunions, ask your podiatrist for advice.
Try to maintain a healthy weight
To protect your toes from bunions, try to maintain a healthy weight. Bunions have been linked to obesity because people who are carrying excess weight tend to have gait patterns that put pressure on the feet. For example, you may overpronate, meaning that your toes point outwards when you walk, rather than pointing straight ahead.
Also, obesity can contribute to the development of arthritis in your feet, and arthritis is yet another risk factor for bunion formation. If foot problems are making it hard for you to exercise, talk to your podiatrist.
Bunions are painful, but there are things you can do to prevent them. If you already have bunions, see a podiatrist like Robert A. Raley, DPM for help.