What are Bunions?
Bunions are one of the most common forefoot deformities and can be very painful. Bunions involve an inflammation at the outer side of the big toe. The bones in the area migrate…the big toe toward the second toe and the first metatarsal bone away from the foot. A large bony bump will form and inflammation occurs. As the big toe pushes into the second and changes alignment it causes you to walk differently.
Other areas of your foot can overcompensate for the bunion and your gait gets out of alignment. Many bunions form due to poor foot mechanics and overpronation, which is often treated with arch supports. The propensity to developing bunions is correlated with genetics. This may be because the underlying mechanical issues associated with bunions are passed down from generation to generation.
Can Arch Supports Help Bunions?
Orthotic arch supports (orthotic insoles) can be an effective measure for dealing with the overpronation, and this will help reduce pressure in the area where bunions occur. Arch supports, or orthotic insoles work to align the feet the way they were meant to be aligned. Often pronated feet cause you to push off the inside of the big toe, creating more pressure on the bunion. Orthotic insoles distribute your weight more evenly throughout your foot, taking away some of the added pressure that is placed on the area of the bunion.
Specific Arch Supports Made for Bunions
When dealing with overpronation and fallen arches, which are commonly associated with bunion formation, arch supports will include a supportive arch to prevent the foot from collapsing. They will be made to prevent added pressure over the area where bunions have formed. Unfortunately, however, they will not be able to straighten the toe once the deformity is in place.
Arch supports for bunions will also be designed with a good cover material that reduces friction and slippage. This will help keep your feet drier and healthier. They can not bunion deformity reverse the deformity but in many situations can make it more comfortable.
Wearing arch supports for bunions can not only relieve pain associated with your bunions, but also prevent foot strain and injury in other areas. Due to improper foot mechanics and alignment when you are walking, your tendons and muscles become strained, over-stretched, and overworked, so you are more prone to foot and ankle related injuries.
Shoes and Bunions
Even more important than arch supports when dealing with bunions are proper shoes. Pointed toes and high heels are often big contributing factors to why the bunions formed in the first place. A wide and deep forefoot is necessary. The bunions should not be rubbing or pressured at the side of the shoes. If the deformity is very large, specific stretching of the shoe in that area or shoes with a special ‘stretchy’ material may be necessary. They should be stable enough to help control pronation and have a removable insole so they will work well with arch supports.
If you are overpronated or flat footed when standing, especially if your parents or grandparents had problems with bunions, you may want to consider orthotic insoles to control the pronation as a preventative measure. It may help prevent you from developing severe bunions in the future…and stay away from shoes that force you into a narrow toe box.
If you are concerned about painful bunions or preventing them, but aren’t sure what to do about it, consult your doctor and they can refer you to a pedorthist or podiatrist who can assess you to see if arch supports are right for you.