Running with bunions

Good news and bad news

So, let’s start with the good news first. Running does not actually cause bunions!

The bad is news is, running can make them worse, fast. This is primarily due to ill-fitting shoes and improper running form.

The best advice for running with bunions is to visit a speciality running store to get the best fitting shoes. It might be weird having a stranger in a public store look at your feet and possibly touch them, but it will be absolutely worth it.

Across the board, wide fitting shoes are the most comfortable shoes for running for bunion sufferers. This allows more room for the big toe and bunion to move whilst running. A soft toe box and sole is also worth considering, as they help reduce rubbing and chaffing on the bunion, particularly if the bunion is tender ancd contains fluids. Soft sole helps relieve or prevent discomfort from the ball of the feet, due to the diverging big toe placing undue pressure on the other toes.

colourful trainers and sneakers for running with bunions
Different types of running shoes

Are specialist insoles worth it?

Orthotic insoles and pads also help relieve pain and discomfort. Prescription custom insoles are popular amongst professional athletes. An over the counter insole should help, but do test them on shorter distances before going the long haul. Anti-inflammatory salves can also be applied before and after running. Applying ice packs can also have a similar effect. A less popular aid are anti-chaff/blister socks, they reduce callousing of the bunions and reduce friction between the bunions, the toes and the shoe. An all-purpose anti-chaff socks should do, no need to splash on the high end socks.

Tie your shoes right

The way the shoes are laced can also help relieve pressure in the shoe box. By making the lace a little loose closer to the toes, less pressure will be applied to the toes, bunion and ball of the foot. Although, do keep the top relatively tight to avoid the shoes slipping off whilst running. This is the easiest bunion relief and requires no additional accessories, however, do try different levels of looseness so it does not negatively affect your lap time.

soles of trainers for running with bunions
This shoe has a soft sole

In some rare cases some runners try to compensate by changing their running form and gait and this can lead to pain and discomfort in other parts of the body, particularly the knees and hip. This can make bunion pain a full body affair. So it is important that the right remedies are applied to avoid punishing the body more than necessary.

Going barefoot?

We have also heard the mentions of barefoot running, this obviously runs the risk of injury from sharp and infected objects. However, medically, there is no convincing evidence that being barefoot improves or cures bunions. So please, please stick to wide fitting running shoes. If the above do not relieve the pain, then please speak to your GP or a podiatrist to discuss surgery.


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