Running With Bunions – How To Treat And Prevent Bunions


The development of bunions is a common issue that runners can face at any time. This can lead to pain, discomfort, and altered running mechanics, leading to even further injuries in the lower body.

Today, we will dive into what causes bunions and what you can do to treat and prevent them. That way, you can feel confident in your ability to recognize when your feet need some extra attention to avoid long-term issues with your running regime and recover as quickly as possible.

What Are Bunions?

A bunion is easy to recognize due to the changes in alignment it causes to your big toe. The biggest joint of the first toe, known as the metatarsophalangeal joint (MTP), starts to protrude outward while the rest of the toe points inward.

This puts a lot of pressure directly on the MTP joint and leads to blisters, corns, and other skin irritation between the toes with each step you take. While the initial symptoms are often pain and stiffness, it can lead to other symptoms in the foot and lower leg, such as pain in the ball of the foot, due to faulty biomechanics with running and walking- whether it be outside or on a treadmill.

Getting the Right Treatment

Bunion relief starts with understanding what is causing them in the first place. While genetics can play a role, the most significant determining factor is shoe wear. If your shoes are too tight, particularly in the toe box, or have an elevated heel, they can lead to foot misalignment and muscle imbalances.

Plus, issues like flat feet and tight calves can initiate or exacerbate the problem as well. Below is a list of options that can help you get the relief you are seeking from bunions:

  • Toe realignment tools- such as toe separators and splints
  • Choose the proper footwear- no high heels whatsoever, make sure they have adequate toe space and arch support (if needed) for all of your daily activities
  • Reduce pain and inflammation with regular stretching, massage, and ice
  • Talk to your podiatrist or physical therapist for personalized recommendations related to exercise and foot mechanics
  • If conservative treatment is not helping, you can discuss the possibility of surgery with your doctor

How to Prevent Bunions

As with any health issue, prevention is always the best line of defense. Where do you start? In this case, it’s simple: the right shoes. Find shoes that support your foot alignment well and don’t feel restrictive.

Issues caused by poorly fitting shoes can easily be exacerbated further with running, making it essential to find a pair that works for you. Additionally, always pay attention to your mechanics and take good care of your general foot health.

This means keeping up with a well-balanced exercise program for the foot and ankle (strengthening and stretching) and taking rest from running as needed when problems start to develop.

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

If you’re a runner, bunions are the last thing you want to have to deal with, especially since they can get worse if you try to ignore them. Now that you understand what causes them and how to treat them, you can feel confident in your ability to get back to running on the road, trails, or a treadmill without pain.

Don’t be afraid to discuss the best options for your feet with your doctor and even ask them for specific shoe recommendations. The bottom line is that you should be wearing running shoes that fit your feet rather than shoes that try to realign your feet.

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