The Best Shoes for a Bunion: Use These 6 Practical Tips

By: Drew Heideman PT/ATC

What are the Best Shoes for Bunions?

A bunion, or more formally hallux valgus, is a bony malformation that forms on the joint at the base of the big toe(metatarsophalangeal joint).

As the condition worsens, the great toe angles towards the second toe causing a deformation along the inside of the foot. 

This bony bump on the inside of the foot can often be painful to the touch, painful with movement, and can have associated swelling or redness of the skin.  Bunion pain can cause a number of other issues in the lower leg and even the lower back. 

What is a Bunion? JOI can helpWhat is a Bunion?

Although there is much debate about the actual cause of bunions, it is believed that there are several factors that can increase the risk for their development. 

Best Shoes For Bunions 

Best Shoes For Bunions 

Among these is wearing high-heeled shoes, wearing ill fitting shoes, wearing pointed shoes or having underlying arthritis of the first metatarsophalangeal joint of the great toe.

Is also believed that there is a hereditary component to the development of bunions; meaning that is typical for this condition to be more common in some family groups.

Because this is often associated with ill fitting footwear, it is important to consider the following when selecting a shoe when one is diagnosed with a painful bunion.  The quick answer for the best shoes for bunions is:

  1. Avoid wearing shoes with heels for prolonged periods of time. Wearing heeled shoe places the first metatarsophalangeal joint into relative extension and places more pressure on the joint when walking.
  2. Avoid wearing shoes that have straps or that cut off past the site of the bunion. This is more typical in women’s shoes and sandals that often have a strap that wraps around the foot at the toes.
  3. Make sure when selecting an athletic shoe, that the shoe has a wide toe box. Because of the deviation of the toe towards the second toe and the bump that develops on the inside of the foot, the actual with of the patient’s foot increases as the bunion worsens. Shoes with a narrow toe box place extra compressive force on the painful part of the joint and can aggravate symptoms with prolonged standing and walking.
  4. One other common modification that can be made is to buy shoes that are ½-1 full size larger than is typically worn. This will allow individuals with bunions to wear certain shoes styles that are not made in various widths.
  5. Shoes that are made of rigid material such as patent leather or steel toe boots are particularly painful, so these may not be the best shoes for bunions.  Selecting shoes that are made of synthetic materials or flexible canvas allow the shoe to stretch and move around the bunion with walking.
  6. Finally, shoes that are more rigid in the forefoot or front part of the shoe and shoes with a rocker-bottom are often found to be more comfortable than those that are highly flexible. These more rigid shoes tend to limit motion at the first metatarsophalangeal joint.  

These 6 tips will hopefully help you buy the best shoe if you have a bunion. 

To learn more about bunions, please read these related articles: 

Bunionectomy surgery

Bunions what you need know

What are bunions?/

Bunion pain/



Minimally invasive bunion surgery

Bunion surgery recovery tips

JOI Rehab Physical Therapy Centers

Other conservative methods including physical therapy, low-level laser therapy, or taping and bracing can also be helpful in managing symptoms. To schedule a physical therapy appointment at JOI Rehab, please call 904-858-7045.

Though most bunions can be managed conservatively by making some of the changes described above, bunions that are persistently painful can be treated by one of the Foot and Ankle specialists at Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute (JOI).   To schedule an appointment by Telemedicine or In-person, please call 904-JOI-2000, schedule online or click below. 



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