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Bunions in Runners: Prevention and Treatment

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Running with bunions is an incredibly common foot problem and often boils down to improper running shoes.

When the metatarsophalangeal joint in your foot is stressed over a long period, it creates a boney bump known as a bunion. Bunions can make your natural gait cycle feel awkward and painful. 

Left unchecked, bunions can throw a monkey wrench into your daily running schedule and may even require bunion surgery to correct. 

However, you can naturally shrink those bunions and get back to running pain-free with a few adjustments. 

Why Bunions Occur

There are many reasons that runners (or non-runners) develop bunions. Sometimes, it’s just your genetic makeup that causes the joints in your big toe to drift inward over time. Other times, it’s a symptom of arthritis. 

However, the leading cause of foot deformities such as bunions is often a matter of poorly fitting shoes.

Women are ten times more likely to develop bunions than men because women are more likely to wear narrow high heeled shoes.

Poorly fitted shoes will cause the MTP (or metatarsal joint/big toe joint) to turn inward over time.

To prevent bunions, proper running shoes are essential. 

Can I Still Run With Bunions? 

If your bunion isn’t causing you foot pain, there’s no reason that you can’t lace up those running shoes and go for a run!

However, if your daily runs are getting more painful, running through the bunion pain will only make things worse rather than better. 

If you ignore them for too long, this seemingly benign bump on your feet may get to the point where simply walking is incredibly painful and requires surgery to correct.

Recovery time after a bunionectomy can take between 6-12 weeks – which is a long time to be down and out. 

The good news is that if you act soon, there are natural ways to deal with the pain and even shrink your bunions!

5 Ways To Shrink Bunions Naturally

1. Swap out your running shoes

Selecting the right shoes is an essential step in treating bunions. Narrow shoes with a tapered toe box do not serve any practical function. This trend stems purely from a fashion standpoint rather than a functional one.

When shopping for new running shoes, be sure to reach for brands with a squared-off toe box that won’t jam your toes together and allow them to splay naturally. It won’t correct bunions, but it will prevent them from getting worse!

2. Invest in a toe spacer

It may look silly, but toe spacers can provide immediate relief! Products such as Yoga Toes can help guide your toes back into a neutral position and help with the pain from bunions.

These simple devices can also increase blood flow to help with other issues like plantar fasciitis or plain old tired feet!

Wear them around the house for 30 minutes a day to give your toes a little love.

Original YogaToes

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3. Hallux Valgus Release Massage

By simply stretching and moving the muscles in your big toe, you can find instant relief. Hold your big toe firmly in your hand and gently pull it upwards, backward, and side to side for only a new minutes a day.

Afterward, you will find that you have more flexibility in your big toe and a sense of immediate pain relief.

4. Apply Ice

If you find that your bunions are a little swollen after a day on your feet, reduce swelling with ice. Place an ice pack on your feet for around 15 minutes, and apply a heat source for 15 minutes.

Additionally, soaking your feet in an ice bath is another great way to ease swelling and soothe tired joints in your feet. 

5. Use a Gel Bunion Protector

A small bunion protector is worn inside your running shoes and helps prevent rubbing and chafing of your bunions. They are composed of soft and padded materials that wrap your bunions in soft cushioning that will ease your pain.

It won’t cure your bunions, but it will undoubtedly reduce your pain!

ZenToes Gel Shields

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3 Running Shoe Models for Bunions

The leading cause of bunions and blisters with most runners boils down to ill-fitting shoes. Tapered toe boxes may look sleek and sporty, but they aren’t doing you any favors.

To prevent bunions (or existing bunions) from getting worse, selecting the right running shoes is key to success. 

I have provided a few suggestions below of excellent running shoes for bunions. 

The Altra Torin boasts one of the widest toe boxes on the market while still maintaining a lightweight and cushioned ride with maximum durability.

The Torin is a great shoe that allows your toes to splay naturally and won’t irritate existing bunions (and can prevent them from occurring). 

Brooks Dyad is perfect for runners with bunions and hammertoes. It has a nice and roomy toe box for natural toe splay, a wide and stretchy upper that won’t pinch your feet, and plenty of cushioning! It also has dual arch support pods for additional support.

New Balance Fresh Foam 860 locks your feet in place with a stretchy and dynamic upper, wide toe box, and a modest medial post perfect for overpronators.

The Fresh Foam 860c11 is a great lightweight stability shoe for runners that needs a little extra cushioning without irritating existing bunions.


  1. American Podiatric Medical Association, Patients & The Public - Bunions, Medical Blog

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