Bunions are a painful issue for most of us, even in daily activities. So, you can imagine how uncomfortable it is for runners to run with bunions. In this article, we look at how to choose the best running shoes for bunions, common questions and some of the best reviewed running shoes for bunions.
Bunions are essentially tough bumps that start forming at the base joint of the big toe (known as the MTP joint) over time. Additionally, another visible sign of a bunion is the inward turning of the big toe towards the other toes. Bunions are quite different from blisters in that blisters disappear more quickly whereas bunions are considered a deformity in the foot and need surgical correction.
Fortunately, it is possible to minimize the pain and discomfort of bunions by choosing running shoes wisely. The important thing is to leave enough room for your toes so that they are not cramped in a tiny space. In the next section, we discuss in more detail about choosing running shoes for bunions.
Top 10 Best Running Shoes for Bunions
If you need wider shoes for your bunions, you can’t go wrong with ASICS. It’s a great brand that makes running shoes with quality materials and great construction that supports comfortable alignment of your feet.
The ASICS Women’s GT-3000 Running shoes have roomy toe boxes, to ensure that there isn’t too much friction between your bunions and the shoe. The shoes are also quite light-weight with a sturdy rubber sole. The construction makes it a great fit for people who are susceptible to overpronation. The shoes are great for both long walks and running on roads.
Along with the rubber sole, the ample cushioning throughout the shoe ensures that it absorbs a lot of the shocks and vibrations from running instead of your joints. It has a small but comfortable platform with a height of 1.25 inches at the mid-sole. The upper fabric lining of the shoe minimizes moisture while ensuring breathability.
Another great product from ASICS, is the Women’s Gel Venture Running Shoes. It is one of the best reviewed on this list.
The outer material is synthetic fabric and features a rubber sole. It also has a special Rearfoot GEL cushioning system that allows for good shock absorption during running. The shoe has a detachable sock liner which leaves room for medical orthotics.
These shoes are for people with bunion feet who experience underpronation (or supination) or for neutral feet with high to medium arches. In supination, when the outer part of your heel hits the ground, your foot doesn’t roll inward that much to regain stability. As a result, the smaller toes experience immense pressure. The superior shock absorption capabilities of this shoe assist greatly with supination.
The special gel cushioning system and high impact rubber sole makes these shoes perfect for running on uneven terrain. It is great for activities like hiking and trail running or walking.
Saucony is another great brand for running shoes, along with ASICS. The brand’s Cohesion 10 running shoes for women offers great cushioning and flexibility.
They incorporate Grid technology, which is a stability system based on the shoe’s sole. They are more neutral shoes which suit people with normal to high arches. Customers who suffer from overpronation, however, report positive experiences with the shoes.
The material of the shoe is 100% mesh on the upper lining, assuring maximum breathability and moisture wicking. It has a rubber sole and injection molded EVA for cushioning. This is great for absorbing vibrations and shocks during running. This also makes it suitable for trail running or uneven terrains.
The shoes have large toe boxes, which is ideal for bunion feet. You can take out the soles and fit in orthotics for super high arches.
For those women who are looking for extra cushioning from running shoes that also accommodate bunions, the New Balance Women’s 1080v9 is a great choice. It has a very wide toe box, allowing ample room for toe movement, and is great for those with flat feet or bunion feet. It is also great for those suffering from plantar fasciitis, because of the extra cushioning.
Stability wise, these are neutral shoes and for those who don’t experience too much overpronation or supination. The sock liner inside is removable to fit in orthotics. The foam cushioning offers good shock absorption, and it is one of the most cushioned shoes in the line. The engineered mesh offers great breathability too.
The heel to toe drop is 8mm with great arch support. These shoes are suitable for long distance running, cross training and for working out in the gym. These are also one of the more economical ones on the list. So, if you’re on a budget and like extra cushioning, these shoes are for you.
Mizuno is another top brand if you are looking for running shoes for your bunion feet. The Mizuno Women’s Wave Inspire 15 running shoes have super soft cushioning and incorporates Mizuno’s signature Wave technology. This is special material technology that allows for both good cushioning in the mid-sole and high stability. These shoes are also suited for high running speeds.
In terms of materials, the Mizuno Wave running shoes have AIRmesh technology, which is a specially engineered mesh allowing great breathability. It also has carbon rubber soles which have superior durability and suited for absorbing high impact forces.
It also features SmoothRide technology, to prevent too much variation in the speed of the feet during transition, allowing for super smooth transition during strides. You can remove the sock liner to make room for orthotics.
These shoes are a little pricier than the ones from New Balance, but this is because the Mizuno ones are better suited for high speeds.
For those looking for shoes that support overpronation or flat feet, the Saucony Men’s Omni 13 Running Shoes don’t disappoint. It is a very technically advanced running shoe, which you can expect from a great brand like Saucony.
The shoe has a 8mm heel to toe drop, which isn’t too high or too low for pronators. What sets this shoe apart is the Arch-Lock technology for overpronation. It also has Support Frame technology for better stability and to keep your heel firmly on the ground. It supports feet with medium to low arches, which is great for those with bunion feet.
The shoes have great moisture wicking inner lining. It also features a midsole made from dual density EVA foam for good shock absorption and cushioning. It also features an open mesh made from synthetic nylon for great breathability on those hot, humid days. It has a wider than average toe box space, which minimizes the contact between the shoe and your bunions.
For men’s running shoes, Brooks is another top brand to look for. The brand’s Mens Beast 18 Running Shoes are ideal for runners with low arches, and hence for bunion feet. These shoes offer superior stability and cushioning for road running. While they are a little pricey compared to others on the list, it offers very technically advanced features.
The Beast 18 is a highly cushioned running shoe from Brooks. It features the brand’s Super DNA cushioning, offering 25% more cushioning than its regular DNA cushioning. Thanks to the engineered air mesh, it leaves plenty of room in the toe box. You won’t need to worry about the bunion rubbing against the shoe.
It also offers excellent motion control for pronators. It has a PDRB (progressive diagonal roll bar) that transitions your foot smoothly during strides. Segmented Crash Pad technology allows smooth transitions and superior shock absorption.
Another great shoe from ASICS, the Gel Nimbus 18 running shoe was one of the top rated men’s shoes on this list. It is most suitable for people with neutral pronation, so people who don’t suffer from excessive supination or overpronation. It is also a bit pricey like the Beast 18 shoes from Brooks, but its superior motion technology makes up for it.
For example, it has a very responsive and well cushioned FluidRide midsole. It makes the midsole lightweight and durable. It also has gel cushioning at the back and front of the feet for shock absorption. Its heel countering system allows for great support and stability.
The upper lining features a very flexible mesh that allows your foot to fit snugly inside the shoe. The linings are also constructed from seamless material, which minimizes the risk of irritation that are common with seams. This would minimize discomfort for bunions as well.
The Gel Kayano 25 from ASICS is ideal for runners suffering from overpronation. This shoe is specifically designed for overpronation and suits people with low arches or flat feet.
In overpronation, the feet roll inwards too much after landing on the outer heel. This puts too much pressure on the big toe and is terrible for people with bunions. It greatly increases pain and discomfort in the bunion.
The Gel Kayano has an integrated guidance line technology which supports your arch and improves your gait. The underlining of the shoe contains stitch-free material to minimize friction with the foot. The upper mesh lining is also stretchable, allowing greater conformity to each individual foot.
What really sets the Gel Kayano 25 apart is the brand’s unique FLYTEFOAM cushioning. It offers plush cushioning, excellent shock absorption capability while still being 55% lighter than regular EVA foam cushioning.
Like its female counterpart, the Mizuno Men’s Wave Inspire running shoes incorporate its signature Wave technology. This enables great impact absorption as well as reduced stiffness or rigidity.
The shoe comes with a very responsive and durable U4icX mid soles. This sturdy foam underneath the arch stops the foot from pronating too much. So, they are great for overpronators and to minimize the risk of developing bunions. It is most suited for flat surfaces such as roads and gyms. It also features stiff side construction for added ankle support, and to further assist with good pronation.
The shoe features a very breathable air mesh and super soft collar to minimize irritation. The heel to toe drop is 12 mm, due to the extra cushioning underneath. The only downside to this added cushioning and support is that it adds a bit more weight.
How to Choose the Best Running Shoes for Bunions
There’s no real consensus among experts about the root cause of bunions. Some explanations include:
- The foot type and dimensions you inherit
- Repeated stress at the joint of the big toe
- Certain forms of arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis
While there is no clear evidence that tight or badly designed shoes cause bunions, they certainly do seem to exacerbate the problem. There are also other factors at play. Statistically, this could be why women suffer more from bunions than men, due to wearing high heels with little room for toe movement.
Genetically speaking, people who have flatter feet also suffer more from bunions. This is because flat feet tend to have more pronation issues than naturally arched feet.
When you pick running shoes for bunion feet, you need to be even more careful than picking regular shoes. This is because when you’re running, your feet experiences greater impact forces than usual and higher chance of inflammation at joints.
Bunions also interfere with your running performance and affect the way you shift your weight. So, if you keep running in the wrong shoes, it will certainly worsen the bunions.
Here are the main things you should look for when choosing running shoes for your bunions:
Consider the width of your shoes
Shoes with narrow toe boxes forces your big toe to push even more towards your other toes. The narrow toe box is also more likely to rub against your bunions, which is extremely painful. So, opt for running shoes where the toe box is quite wide. Choose running shoes where the width at the toe is larger than at the ball of the foot.
However, shopping for ‘wide toe boxes’ is too vague because we all have unique feet. If you have ‘neutral’ feet, which are less likely to roll inward (overpronation) or rolling outwards (supinating), you can choose a neutral shoe with a wider toe space.
People with bunion feet also have lower arches which are susceptible to overpronation (rolling inwards). So, look for shoes that have a well-designed arch for stability. Avoid shoes with extremely high arches, though, because they cause even more issues. Pick a shoe with just enough arch support that allows you to balance naturally.
Choose the right materials and construction
Pick running shoes that are constructed from materials that allow your feet to ‘breathe’. Mesh incorporated shoes are quite common now and are better than solid shoes that allow sweat and heat to accumulate, increasing the discomfort of the bunion.
Another important thing to look for is shock absorption features. The repeated impact and shock from running can also worsen bunions. So, look for materials that absorb the high impact forces. Certain materials like rubber, EVA, gels and foams are good at absorbing shocks and vibrations from running.
Other things to consider
Sufficient ‘break in’ period
Just like you would with regular shoes, you need to give enough time to ‘break in’ to your running shoes. When you first buy them, they are going to be stiff, which is not ideal for bunion feet.
To break in faster, you can practice walking around in the new shoes wearing extra thick socks. You should also not attempt to run great distances in your new running shoes. Opt for short distances and durations, and gradually increase them as you break into your new shoes.
You can also bunch up some newspapers and stuff them tightly inside the shoes and leave them for a couple of days. They will naturally stretch out.
Shop at the right time
Did you know that towards the end of the day, your feet tend to be bigger than in the morning? Your foot size can go up as much as half a size. Go shoe shopping towards the evening to account for this.
It can also increase with temperature. So, you can try shoe shopping in the warmest seasons or the warmest time of the day where you live.
Is running a cause of bunions?
There is little evidence to show that running is a direct cause of bunions. As mentioned earlier, bunions are more likely due to certain foot shapes, genetic predispositions and medical conditions like osteoarthritis.
However, running does put a lot of pressure on your big toe joint for long periods of time, particularly if you tend to overpronate. Running may also exacerbate conditions like arthritis, as it wears away the cartilage at the MTP joint. So, running can certainly make bunions a lot worse if you wear the wrong type of shoes or don’t pronate properly.
It is important to realize that bunions are a progressive condition, which means it only gets with time. So, it is even more important to take preventative measures against bunions during high impact movement like running.
Are there non-surgical methods to fix bunions?
Unfortunately, surgery is the only option to correct bunions. While there are non-surgical solutions to slow down the worsening of bunions, there are no non-surgical ways to eliminate them.
Non-surgical solutions for easing bunions include things like shoe inserts or toe spacers to align your toes correctly within the shoe. If your running shoes currently don’t offer good cushioning, you can purchase special bunion gel cushioning pads to place in your shoes.
What can I do at home to minimize bunion pain?
Anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen can ease the pain from bunions temporarily. Soaking your feet in a warm bath at the end of the day is great too. Ice packs are good for calming inflammation at the joint. Wearing a toe splint overnight to align your big toe correctly is also good at easing any discomfort.
Does walking barefoot prevent bunions?
Some professionals in the medical community are convinced that moving barefoot is a good preventative measure against bunions. They have observed that cultures that go barefoot often tend to have lower incidences of bunions.
Walking barefoot also has other advantages. It helps you control your feet better during movement. It enables you to strengthen muscles that are otherwise not used while wearing shoes.
The problem is, however, walking or running barefoot is not practical or hygienic. So, investing in proper fitting footwear is your best option.
To conclude, it is important to choose your footwear wisely if you plan to run with bunion feet. While running is not a cause of bunions, it can make bunions worse by putting extra stress on the joints or wearing out the cartilage.
Bunions are a progressive condition, which means it only gets worse over time. The only way to fix it is through surgery. However, your choice of footwear can affect the deterioration of your bunions.
When choosing running shoes for bunions, the most important feature to look for is a wide toe box. Narrow toe boxes cram your big toe towards the other toes, worsening the condition. You should also look for extra cushioning of the inner lining to minimize friction between the shoe and big toe.