Anyone who has bunions knows that finding footwear that’s comfortable and looks good is hard to do. Luckily, help is at hand – we’ve spoken with podiatrist Felicity Burnell from Oxfordshire Chiropody & Podiatry to understand how to find the best wide fit shoes for bunions. So we can all put our best foot forward!
What Causes Bunions?
First things first, what are bunions? Known formally as hallux abductovalgus, a bunion is a bony lump that appears on the side of the feet, when the base joint of the big toe becomes dislocated and shifts sideways.
Typically, both feet will be affected if you have bunions (known as bilateral bunions) and they are genetic.
So on the whole, there’s not a lot you can do to prevent getting them – it’s to do with pronation, when your foot rolls inwards when you walk. This generally means you’ll have flat feet too, and they will become progressively flatter as you age.
That doesn’t mean you should pick the high heels back up – while they might not have caused your bunions, they can exacerbate the issue, causing the bunion to become larger, lesser toes to buckle and generally accelerating the disease process.
However! The process can be managed through conservative (non-surgical) means, such as appropriate footwear.
The Best Shoes For Bunions
Choosing the right footwear for bunions can prevent them from getting worse. Here’s Felicity’s top tips for finding comfortable shoes for bunions.
1. Forget about ill-fitting footwear. We’ve just learnt that a bunion is a bony lump, so you need wide-fit shoes that will accommodate this and not squash it. Comfort is key. Luckily, that doesn’t mean you need to compromise on style. Friendly Shoes’ trainers for bunions have a deep and wide toe box that allows room for the toes to spread and reduces friction over the bunion joint. There’s also an expanding upper too that accommodates rather than squashes. And they look great too.
Excursion mid-top trainer in Cafe au Lait, available in sizes 3-8.
The Excursion is our deepest style, has a back zip and is virtually seamfree.
2. Look for a lace-up. I’m talking more about a lace-up trainer here than a court shoe (there’s more give in a trainer that’s why). You can choose how to lace the shoe to best accommodate your bunion, meaning it’s comfortable and fits as well as possible. This will prevent your toes and feet from moving in the shoes (this can encourage hammer toes which is something we want to avoid!).
Our best-selling Voyage Navy Peach. With its discreet side zip, you can tie the laces and set the tension on first wear, and then use the zip for ease of on and off. Available in sizes 3-8 (we have black, white and other colours up to a size 12).
3. Cushioned insoles are great. If you don’t have much of an arch (flat feet are more likely to develop bunions remember) then an insole can provide pressure relief. Or maybe your toes are becoming clawed due to wearing ill-fitting shoes – then a bit more cushioning under the toes from an insole can help. Friendly Shoes all come with dual-density memory foam insoles that are super comfortable (“walking on air” one man described them!). The insoles are also removable so you can replace with your own custom orthotic too.
4. Lightweight is best. As we get older, we need shoes that protect our feet and the lighter it is, the easier it can be to wear. An adult pair of Friendly Shoes weigh in at a staggering 450g – making them great shoes for elderly with balance problems, or recovering from a stroke where there is a weakness.
5. Shoes with rocker soles are the way forward. Also known as curved sole shoes, a rocker bottom sole means that pressure is distributed through the whole foot as you walk, rolling over the bunion joint instead of forcing pressure into it. It works by having a thick outsole with an upward curved toe and heel area. Friendly Shoes all have rocker soles.
Other Ways To Help Your Bunions
Thanks to Felicity, we now know how to find the best shoes for bunions. But what else could we do to help our feet?
- Keep the muscles in your feet strong. Simple daily exercises like pointing and flexing the toes can improve your foot mechanics and help reduce pain.
- Moisturise! The skin over the bunion can become fragile. Keep it moisturized to maintain skin vitality.
- See a podiatrist. Just like you see a dentist for an annual check-up, go and see a podiatrist to check your feet out. And remember to take your shoes along so they can best assess how to help you – being able to walk and stand comfortably should be a non negotiable.
You might be pre-disposed genetically to developing bunions but that doesn’t mean you just have to live with it. Friendly Shoes are podiatrist recommended shoes for bunions and can make all the difference to walking comfortably.
Thanks Felicity for your wisdom!