Noticing a painful prominence jutting out from the base of your big toe? That’s what’s called a bunion. Medically called hallux valgus, bunions are considered the most common deformity of the forefoot, occurring in a 23-35% of the world’s population. Although surgery is a viable solution especially for cases that are particularly advanced, there are equally effective, non-invasive treatment options available. One of these is proper footwear.
Lots of footwear manufacturers claim to have the best shoes for bunions. But actually offering the ‘best’ shoes means a whole lot more than fancy advertising ploys and pretty packaging. If you’re in search of the right shoes for your painful bunions, you’re in luck. Here, we break down all the nitty gritty details to help you in your search and provide you information on 5 of the best performing designs on the market to help narrow down your options.
What are Bunions and What are The Symptoms?
Years of weight bearing, pressure, movement, and possibly misuse can cause the formation of bunions. These painful prominences appear around the base of the big toe and point outwards towards the medial aspect of the foot. The toe itself is often pushed to point inwards so that it leans against the second toe beside it. So aside from being a painful condition, bunions can also be particularly unsightly.
It’s not hard to tell when you’ve got hallux valgus – especially once you see a slight deformity around the area where it occurs. However, there are more signs that point to this diagnosis that may help you definitively determine its presence. These include:
- Swelling around the base of the big toe
- Redness and soreness of the affected joint
- Persistent pain or intermittent pain without an apparent trigger
- Pain and discomfort upon standing, walking, or moving the feet
- Calluses form around the affected area
- Decreased range of motion secondary to pain
In any case, it’s always better to seek the advice of a medical professional in order to reach a definitive diagnosis. Be sure to ask your trusted doctor to validate the presence of hallux valgus.
What to Look for in a Shoe for Bunions
What exactly makes a good shoe for bunions? Lots of brands have come out with designs that feature a plethora of fancy bells and whistles. And while they might all seem very enticing, you don’t really need too many outlandish features to experience relief from bunions.
When it all comes right down to it, a pair of shoes should offer you just the basic essentials to provide effective treatment. Here’s a list of the most important factors to look for when you start your search so you can land a reliable footwear choice on your first buy.
Shoes that are too narrow around the mid and forefoot can cause significant pain on a painful bunion. In fact, some research suggests that the development of bunions can in some cases be traced back to the frequent use of tight, ill-fitting shoes (albeit not the underlying cause).
As a general rule, you should seek out shoes that have a roomy toe box to decrease the pressure on the affected toe joint. Wider shoes also prevent the inner surfaces of the shoe from rubbing against the enlarged protrusion which limits the development of corns and calluses.
Your feet will work overtime in order to move in a pair of stiff, unforgiving shoes. So it would be in your best interest to avoid shoes that restrict movement, like those made from dense fabrics, synthetics, or stubborn leather.
Instead, go for shoes that use soft, pliable upper materials, like canvas or mesh. These aren’t only a lot easier to move in, they’re also much more breathable than other types of material.
Adding height to your heel means putting greater weight on the forefoot during standing and walking. High heels also put your foot in awkward, unnatural positions, so any shoes with heels higher than 2 inches can make bunions particularly worse.
When choosing shoes for bunions, it’s best to consider the height of the heel. Lower designs that incorporate as little elevation of the heel as possible will help make it easier for you to walk more naturally.
Once you find the right shoes for your bunions, it’s not likely that you’ll want to wear anything else. That’s why most of those who suffer from the problem find themselves wearing out a pair of shoes much faster, because they don’t want to deal with the discomfort and pain that other designs might cause.
What’s more, people with painful bunions tend to slightly compensate by adjusting their gait minutely in order to avoid any added pressure on the bunions. This can put wear on a lot of areas of shoes, and thus make it easier for them to rip and tear later on.
Consider the durability of your chosen shoes before you make a purchase. Reinforced stitching, high quality materials, and a reliable name behind the design can all help in making sure you’ve got a purchase that’s made to last.
Reviews for 5 of the Best Shoes for Bunions
Lets check out the top footwear for bunions the market has to offer:
Probably the best shoes for bunions and flat feet is the Tuscany Brown Leather Wide Moccasins from Orthofeet. The brand has a long-standing reputation as one of the best manufacturers of shoes for special conditions, and that’s why it’s really no surprise that it made it to the top of our list.
Their wide leather moccasins are comfortable, stylish, and easy, giving you everyday comfort that you can match with almost any outfit. What makes them particularly ideal for bunions though is the fact that they have quite a wide toe box. This gives you extra room to accommodate your bunions and prevent any chaffing or friction that could irritate the skin.
The shoes also feature a special footbed construction that makes them exceptionally comfortable to walk in. This Ortho-Cushion system softens each heel strike, reducing the load on the joints of the feet to give you an easy and effortless ride. The insoles are also contoured with deep heels, keeping your foot in place and limiting pressure on the forefoot throughout the entire gait cycle.
Made from premium leather, the Extra Wide Avery Island Walking Shoes from Orthofeet can be a suitable pair for the office, and even double as a semi-formal pair of dress shoes for bunions. They’re simple, clean, and professional looking, which is why they’ve hit it big with buyers who want reliable bunion relief without compromising an outfit.
In true Orthofeet fashion, these shoes also feature the same orthotic footbed which helps reduce pressure on the joints by making each step more comfortable and effortless. The heels are extra deep so as to keep your foot in proper place without locking it down by use of tight uppers and laces.
Durability-wise, the Extra Wide Avery Island Walking Shoes are also particularly impressive. Making use of premium materials put together by expert craftsmanship, these shoes can last several months or even years of use with minimal signs of wear and tear.
Although they’re probably not the most fashionable shoes for bunions, the Springfield Mary Jane shoes from Orthofeet are definitely some of the most comfortable. These soft, pliable, and forgiving shoes boast comfy uppers, a smooth and hassle-free silhouette, and an orthotic footbed that gives its users an exceptionally easy and pain-free experience.
Much like other Orthofeet shoes, the Springfield Mary Janes use the same Ortho-Cushion System which basically cradles the foot and reduces pressure across the sole to eliminate stress on the bunions. What makes this particular design so special though is the fact that it uses some of the most pliable synthetic uppers on the market, easily putting them in the top spot on the list of comfortable shoes for bunion sufferers.
When it comes to the cost, we wouldn’t say that the Springfield Mary Jane shoes are the cheapest. In fact, they might even seem a little overpriced given the simple design. But what the shoe lacks in aesthetic, it makes up for with durability and comfort. So they’re still definitely worth every penny.
Most people who look for cute shoes to hide bunions often turn to athletic shoes. And with most sports shoes these days designed with killer aesthetics, there’s really no wondering why they’ve become a top choice for style-savvy buyers.
The Altra Escalante Running Shoes embody the perfect marriage between comfort and style. These full on athletic running shoes weren’t necessarily designed for special feet conditions like bunions, but they do work really well to give users the relief they look for.
With soft, pliable, breathable mesh uppers, a responsive and bouncy cushion system, lots of space up front, and a durable yet lightweight construction, these shoes can be a great choice for those who want something that can give a steady, easy, and comfortable ride for daily wear.
Another design that wasn’t necessarily designed for bunions but has proven to be a good shoe for the condition anyway are the Candra Blush Flats from Clarks. With their sleek silhouette, streamlined design, and sophisticated detail, these shoes can very well pass off as the most fashionable shoes for bunions on the market.
What makes them good for hallux valgus though, aside from the fact that they can hide the protrusions, is that they provide a lot of room in the toe box to help reduce friction and pressure on the bulge. They also have very pliable, flexible uppers that make it a lot easier to get around minus the extra resistance on the feet.
Lastly, coming in at a very reasonable price, these shoes from Clarks can be a major investment for anyone who wants a pair of shoes they can use for the daily grind without having to put too much of a dent on their wallet.
No one wants to deal with the pain or unsightliness of bunions – but you don’t really have to opt for expensive treatments right off the bat. For most, just the best shoes for bunions can be more than enough to provide timely and effective bunion relief.
Of all the options we’ve reviewed and researched, the Orthofeet Tuscany Brown Leather Wide Moccasins have to be the most impressive. Offering superb comfort, support, and relaxed aesthetics, these shoes can be the perfect companion to help you overcome bunion pain on the daily