The Relationship between Bunions and Shoes


There is a direct link between foot health and foot wear. Shoes that fit well and provide proper support will promote healthy feet while ill-fitting shoes will have the opposite effect. Bunion development is a primary example of this relationship as their existence is often linked to ill-fitting footwear.

Because bunions can occur when too much pressure is applied to bones and ligaments of the great toe care must be taken that shoes allow the toes sufficient space during weight bearing activities, as insufficient space will force the toes inward, which can eventually lead to deformation and partial dislocation in the joints of the big toe as it continuously bends inward to accommodate the shape of the shoe.

Shoes that are constrictive in the toe are the most likely to cause problems, and this may occur if there is incorrect sizing or due to the design of the shoe. Many people frequently wear incorrectly sized shoes simply because they have always done so, and it is highly recommended that people suffering from bunions have their feet professionally measured and sized.

As far as design is concerned high heels and pointy-toed shoes are two of the biggest offenders. Shoes with pointy toes naturally restrict the amount of space that toes have, and even worse, the design actually forces the digits to bend painfully into the center of the foot, which is guaranteed to cause foot problems over time.

There are several major problems that occur with regular wearing of high heels, and bunions are one of the most common issues that develop over time. The angle of the shoes forces the toes into the box of the shoe, where movement is not only restricted but where pressure tends to build as well. This is one of the reasons why women develop bunions at approximately nine times the rate than men do.

This statistic is changing as fashion ideals change, however, and as pointy toed shoes have increased in popularity in men’s fashion the frequency with which men are afflicted with bunions has increased as well, as have other shoe-related issues such as hammertoe and generalized foot pain.

Fashion has become a major issue to podiatrists simply because the styles have become more extreme over the years; pointy shoes have become pointier and heels have gotten much higher. While the average heel height used to range from 1 inch to 2.5 inches 3 inches and higher has now become the standard, with more women wearing ‘ultra heels’ (6 inches or more) much more often than before.

This has caused a corresponding increase in foot and back problems, and also seems to have accelerated the development of foot deformities such as bunions. And while platform or wedged heels may be easier to walk in fashion has recently dictated that the gradation of the shoe be extreme, which means that excessive pressure is still placed on the foot. These type of shoes also often cause ‘hot spots’ to develop in the feet because they do not have a bendable arch or toe box, which causes unusual rigidity and pressure points to develop.

The best method for preventing bunions is to have your feet professionally measured, ensure the shoe bends moderately at the toes box and provides proper arch support, and if heels must be worn they should be ‘chunky’ and less than 2 inches high.


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