A bunion is a deformity of the bones and joints at the base of the big toe. The big toe points toward the second toe, and the joint protrudes outward. A bunion can cause pain and make it difficult to wear certain shoes. Bunions are more common in women than in men. They often run in families. Shoes that fit too tightly or high heels that force the foot into an unnatural position can contribute to the formation of a bunion. Bunions can also be caused by arthritis or other conditions that damage joints.
Causes of Bunions
There are many different causes of bunions. Some people are born with them, while others develop them over time.
Wearing ill-fitting shoes is one of the most common causes of bunions. High heels, pointed toes, and other shoes that do not allow the toes to lie flat can put pressure on the bones and muscles of the foot, causing them to become misshapen.
Other shoes, such as those that are too tight or too loose, can also contribute to bunions. People who have arthritis or other conditions that damage joints are also at risk of developing bunions.
In some cases, bunions are caused by genetic factors. If you have a family history of bunions, you may be more likely to develop them yourself.
Treatments for Bunions
There are many different treatments for bunions. In some cases, conservative treatments such as wearing comfortable shoes or using pads or other devices to redistribute pressure on the foot can help reduce pain and prevent further deformity.
In other cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the bunion or realign the bones in the foot. But this is a last resort. This surgery is often painful and does not guarantee a perfect and pain-free gait. The article’s goal is to avoid surgery.
When my daughter was younger and participated in running sports like track and field and cross country, she developed bunions. We are not sure how. Doctors recommended surgery to fix them. Because she was so young, we were determined to find another solution because the bunions were causing her pain, and we were convinced that our first option was not surgery.
We tried different devices and padding for her shoes that worked well, along with performing bunion exercises and acupuncture, and they all worked beautifully. She no longer suffers from bunions, though she still does bunion exercises. She does them because they feel good, keep her feet flexible and reduce pain after being on her feet all day.
Exercises for Prevention
Exercises that stretch and strengthen the muscles and ligaments around the foot can also help prevent bunions from forming or progressing. Having the bunion evaluated by your healthcare practitioner so that they can give you personalized advice on what to do to prevent it from getting worse is helpful. If they suggest surgery, that is fine, but be sure to also examine non-surgical solutions as well, because they too are effective. Untreated bunions can lead to pain, difficulty walking, and other problems.
There are several exercises that can help prevent bunions from forming or getting worse. We will describe the six bunion exercises that are suggested by and shown in a video by Activ Chiropractic:
These exercises are simple and are very helpful in helping to relieve bunion discomfort while also helping to reverse their progression.
Please note: If you have arthritis and any of these exercises hurt, you can try increasing circulation by warming your feet up in warm water for up to 10 minutes to see if you can do a lesser amount of any or all of these exercises, or just stop altogether.
1. Spreading Toes
Sit in a chair and lift your feet off the floor, spreading the toes horizontally for a second or two.
Spread your toes vertically and hold for a second or two.
Activ Chiropractic recommends 20–30 reps and 2-4 sets.
This can easily be done while working on your computer.
2. Curling Toes
While sitting on a chair, curl your toes in and then extend them out, with your ankles also extending in and out.
Do 20-30 reps by holding your curled toes for 1 second, then releasing them. 2-3 sets.
This exercise helps work the muscles under your feet and helps prevent flat feet by maintaining foot arches.
3. Circles With the Toes
Using your hand, gently create mobility in your big toes by making clockwise and counterclockwise circles with it, beneficially stretching the muscles. This also reduces stiffness in the toe joints.
Complete 20–30 circles and 2-3 sets.
4. Figure 8’s
Once you have warmed up your big toes with circles, increase their mobility by using your hand to take your big toes in figure 8’s, both ways, 20-30 reps, 2-3 sets.
5. Toe Abductions Assisted with a Wide Elastic Band
The next 2 exercises are done with a toe fitness elastic band like this:
Fit Simplify Resistance Loop Exercise Bands with Instruction Guide and Carry Bag, Set of 5
Or something like this:
Mutreso Big Toe Strap Bunion Straightener Stretchy Belt Toe Stretcher
Connect an elastic band that is designed for toe exercises and pull your feet apart while both feet are planted on the floor. Hold this position for 3-4 minutes, and do 2-3 sets. This helps keep the arch muscles mobile and flexible.
6.Toe Extension and Toe Reflection
Next, lift both feet a couple of inches off the ground and, while the band is around both of your big toes and both legs are a few feet apart, fully curl your toes in and fully extend them out.
However, bunions can be painful and cause difficulty. Fortunately, there are treatments available ranging from conservative methods like stretching exercises up to surgery depending on severity. If you believe you may have a bunion starting or already have one causing you pain, consult with a healthcare practitioner so they can determine which method of treatment will work best for you. Taking care of your feet now with simple exercises may save you from having larger issues later down the road.
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