Bunion Prevention – Keeping you on your toes!

Happy feet bunion

Many people believe that bunions are a life sentence!

This is not necessarily the case.

Bunions shouldn’t be considered a natural part of aging. 


What is a bunion?

A bunion, or hallux valgus is a deformity of the big toe. The big toe points at a sideways angle towards the second toe, which creates a characteristic bump on the inner side of the foot.  The constant pressure here produces a callus and a thickening of the tissues over the bump.  As the bunion becomes more prominent, pain can develop.


What Causes a Bunion? 

Bunions are a result of complex biomechanical changes that occur in your feet.  Some contributing factors which may lead to bunions include: 

  • Footwear 
    • The type of footwear that you wear DOES increase risk of bunions.
    • Bunions occur in about 30% of the population of most Western countries but only 3% in Eastern countries.
    • Tight-fitting shoes are thought to be a cause of bunions.  Shoes such as high heels and shoes with tight toe boxes are particularly damaging to the toes.  These shoes have a sloping foot bed and a narrow toe box.  The slope causes the front of the foot to bear your weight, which encourages your forefoot to widen. Also, the angle pushes your toes into the narrow toe box, causing the toes to become angled and squeezed together. 
    • With prolonged wearing of constraining footwear your toes will adapt to the new position and lead to the deformity we know as a foot bunion.
  • Injuries to the foot/calf/knee/hip 
    • Following injury to the lower limb, you may develop a different walking pattern, which can turn the foot outwards and place more pressure on the big toe.
    • Poor arch control leading to flat feet or foot pronation increases susceptibility to bunions.
  • Gender
    • Bunions are seen most commonly in women (perhaps due to tight fitting shoes)
  • Family history of bunions
    • Although, this may be more related to children mirroring postures and styles of movement in their parents, rather than anatomy! 


Exercises to help reduce bunions?

Bunion exercises, done consistently and often, can ease pain and reverse the bunion.

Here are some great exercises to help reduce your bunions!  Do these regularly (at least daily) – changes are slow but steady.

Spreading toes

  • Toe Spreading
    • Place your fingers between each toe
    • Gently bend the toes back and forth
    • Do this for 1-2 minutes
    • This can be a bit achy if your toes are particularly tight


Stretch big toe

  • Big Toe Stretch
    • Place a small strap or band around the big toes
    • Put a small ball/object between the feet (just outside the ‘bunion joint’)
    • Gently work the feet apart to create a stretch to the inside of the big toes


Foot rolling

  • Foot Rolling
  • Place a small ball or dowel under the foot
  • Roll up and down the arch of the foot, concentrating on any sore spots
  • Do this 20-30x


What can help bunions? 

  • Changing your footwear or limiting use of high heels
  • Stretching and exercising the foot and toes
  • Physio!
    • Massage and mobilisation to improve the flexibility of the toes and foot
    • Gait re-education (changing the way you walk) to reduce pressure on the big toe
    • Posture re-education to reduce big toe pressure
  • If you would like to get rid of your bunions, come and see us at Central Lakes Physio for individualised assessment, advice and treatment from one of our awesome physio team!


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