The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

You Have a Bunion. So What Shoes Can You Wear?

Posted by on Monday, July 2nd, 2012


Bunions are one of the most common foot problems that people have to deal with. Whether you’re still trying to decide whether you should have surgery, what kind of surgery to have, how to recover from surgery, or you are just simply looking for something to keep your bunions from getting worse, you still have to deal with shoes–unless you happen to have one of those rare jobs where you walk around barefoot or spend most of your day with your feet helpfully elevated on pillows.

There’s no question that having a bunion can make it hard to wear shoes, and if you wear the wrong kind they can make your bunion worse by squashing your toes tighter and rubbing fabric on the bunion. And they can do damage to your shoes, too–my running shoes are overall in pretty good condition, except for the place where the bunion on my right foot has worn a hole in the mesh of the shoe.

Here, then, are some tips for finding shoes that will help your bunions feel a little bit better:

General Rules As we have said many, many times before, make sure your shoes fit and don’t wear pointy toed stilettos that squash your toes and put extra pressure on your toe joints. Look for shoes with roomy toe boxes and chunkier heels of a reasonable height.

Summer Shoes On one hand, summer should be the best time for shoe-shopping for people with bunions. Common summer shoes like open-toed sandals and flip flops seem like they’d be great for bunions–they give that bump space plenty of space, there’s no weird shaped toe box to squash toes and minimal abrasive fabric. However, proceed with caution–open-toed sandals still have straps that can rub on your bunion. Don’t give up on them, though–just look for straps made out of smooth material that won’t scrape your skin. You can also put bunion pads or cushions on them, or slide on a bunion sleeve to protect your foot.

Flip flops are more complicated. They do allow plenty of freedom for your toes and the straps don’t bind on your foot like sandals do. That’s great, but to be honest, flip flops can cause so many other problems that the bunion pros don’t outweigh the overall flip flop foot cons. They don’t offer any support, the thong rubs the skin between the toes raw, and thin flip flops leave you at risk for punctures and cuts. So sandals–with strap precautions–are a better choice.

Running Shoes Bunions and running go together, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that most of the major running shoe makers have shoes that accommodate bunions (it shouldn’t be a surprise…unless you’re me and just realized this today). Saucony, New Balance, and Brooks all have roomy toe boxes that give your bunion and toes plenty of space. Brooks also have shoes that offer some stability and motion control to help keep you from rolling in on your bunion. Mizuno makes shoes that relieve forefoot and pain. Nike and Adidas actually have shoes with “bunion windows,” where the material in the area of bunions and bunionettes is made of a mesh that stretches to fit over your bunion (although some people have found that these can pinch).

You can also buy shoes a half a size larger to give yourself more toe room. Another tip is to lace your shoes loosely at the top near the toes and tighter at the bottom. When you go to buy running shoes, just tell the salespeople that you have a bunion and are looking for shoes to help with that. If you’re in a good store that’s serious about running shoes, they should understand what you need and be able to give you good advice.

I hope that helps you in your search for shoes that will be easier on your bunion. If you have questions or problems about bunions or other foot problems, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, and Dr. Ryan Minara have helped thousands of people get back on their feet.



If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.