Bunions may not look pretty, but they can also be a pain! If your goal is to avoid surgery and correct your bunions with lifestyle modifications and functional movement exercises then you have found the right blog. Whether you are trying to avoid surgery or you just want to learn more about what causes bunions, how to treat bunions naturally, and how they impact your movement and posture you’ll want to keep reading. 

What Causes Bunions?

A bunion, also known as hallux valgus, is a bony bump that forms on the inside part of the foot at the base of the big toe. This is a result of the muscle that is on the inside of the foot connected to the side of the big toe going weak!! The job of this muscle is to help position the big toe at the right location. It brings the most amount of forward propulsion when weight-bearing and walking, to say the least.

Over time when the big toe fails to stay at the optimal place, you can develop pain and discomfort over the area from rubbing on shoes! Aside from pain, there is dysfunctional movement and posture that develops from improper weight distribution. This often ends with the function of the feet ignored! 

While many think it is hereditary, I am here to tell you that while your parents or ancestors may play a role, this is not a sentence to live up to. It just means that you should consider working harder at something that for some people is not an issue. Wearing shoes with a narrow toe box plays a big role in initiating the decline! This is commonly believed to be shoes like high heels, but can also include shoes like sneakers that have a narrow toe box. Watch this video to see why!

The less common talked about cause of bunions is poor postural stability. This is the process of your feet/toes conforming to what the rest of the body is doing!  

Do You Have To Have Surgery To Correct Bunions?

Surgery is not your only option when it comes to bunions though in more severe cases, it may be the only option. The best way to treat/prevent bunions or post-surgery is to start bringing functionality in movement in the big toe, foot, ankle, and hip joint  as soon as possible! There are bunion corrective exercises that you can do along with lifestyle modifications that support the process!

If you are considering surgery or have already had surgery do know that surgery does nothing to address the cause of the problem. You still need to make adjustments in your lifestyle and do the work to re-establish the proper function of your feet and weight distribution. Most people skip this step, which can oftentimes result in the bunion coming back. 

Some of the changes you can make now to reduce pain from bunions and prevent them from getting worse include:

  • Go barefoot as often as possible but start by doing it periodically throughout the day. This frees up your toes and helps to bring some proprioception back to your feet but that is not enough.
  • Wear shoes with a wider toe box! You can find the shoes we suggest to our patients in our Amazon List here.  
  • Avoid wearing narrow shoes, especially pointed-toe shoes.
  • Work on your whole body movement which requires your understanding that your big toe and foot are not isolated from the rest of your body. The exercises that we focus on in our practice, producing the best results are those of babies! With Developmental movement exercises, babies go from helpless infants to running toddlers, right? We all have done them, have seen the results, and have done them without being coached. That is because they are innate. Why reinvent the wheel!!

Non-Surgical Bunion Correction: Bunion Exercises 

If you have the start of a bunion or have had them for a while start doing these exercises sooner rather than later! 

  • Spread your toes – Practice sitting or standing. The goal is to spread your toes as far from each other as possible. This can be very challenging at first, but you just keep working on it. Believe it or not, when we were all born the toes were actually the widest part of the foot! 
  • Make creases in your toes! Once you’ve gotten more comfortable just spreading your toes, practice engaging your toes into the ground to create creases in the toes. 
  • Heel Raises with spread toes
  • Work on actively pulling the big toe away from the other toes! Not by using your hands to pull it apart or a toe spreader device! It has to be an engagement of the muscle discussed in the video below. At first, you may not be able to move it all, but it’s something you need to work on. 
  • I recommend Toepro* to my patients to not only create strength for their toes but also bring function back to the foot and ankle muscles.

Bunions maybe genetic but they are correctable if addressed early on. Contact me if you suspect having postural decline, unstable joints, and/or dysfunctional patterns of movement.

Dr. Shakib

Recommend Reading: 

Flat Feet, Collapsed Arches and Posture

How To Prevent Ankle Injuries If You Have Hypermobility

*I have an affiliate relationship with the company Toepro and my recommendation is not based on this affiliation.