I've had a bunion on my left foot for as long as I can remember. While it doesn't bother me when I'm lazing around, venturing out is a totally different story. That's because if I'm not wearing the proper shoes or accessories for my bunion, I'm gonna have a bad time. And if you too have a bony bump below one or both of your big toes, you know what I'm talking about.
Wearing heels that are too high or shoes that are too narrow is just asking for trouble. Sure, it feels fine for, like, the first 10 minutes. But then the throbbing starts. Too much pressure or too much friction will just leave you wishing you were Ariana Grande and had someone to carry you around once your feet call it quits. But after finally starting to accommodate my bunion instead of my eyes when shopping for shoes, I've learned a few features to look for to know whether my feet will be able to tolerate at least a few hours in a pair of shoes. And no, you don't have to sacrifice your fashion choices for your feet. Here are 12 types of shoes and accessories that will help keep your bunion calm so you can walk in comfort:
1. Wide Width
Try: BELLA VITA Switch II Slip-On Sneaker, $80, Nordstrom
When looking for closed-toed shoes, try on wider widths where available. The extra room will keep your bunion from rubbing against the side of the shoe, lessening irritation and potential blisters.
Try: UGG Australia Dakota, $100, UGG
Not only does fur or faux-fur lining provide extra warmth during cold months, but it also provides extra cushioning all around. Bunions will be much less noticeable when there is fur to support both the bottoms and sides of your feet, thereby reducing impact and friction.
Try: Nike Air Max Thea Flyknit, $150, Nike
Mesh or a loose-weave knit will provide that easy stretch and breathability that bunions need to sit comfy in a pair of tennies. After a five-mile walk, you'll definitely be able to tell the difference.
Try: MARC FISHER LTD Annie Perforated Espadrille Platform Wedge, $170, Nordstrom
When there's little to no platform in a higher-heeled shoe, bunions and the balls of your feet tend to become sorer, faster. So if you're looking for a lift, opt for one all-around— including under the balls of your feet. This way, some shock is relieved from your bunions so you can walk happy.
5. Soft Leather
Try: FRYE Melanie Slip On, $158, FRYE
When the shape of your shoe constricts your feet, bunions are more prone to friction, pressure, and therefore irritation. Shoes made with soft leather around the toes will provide more give than other materials that press too much against bunions, thereby mitigating irritation.
Try: Sam Edelman Hazel Pointy Toe Pump, $120, Nordstrom
If a shoe you have your eye on comes in a stiffer leather or other inflexible material, see if there's a perforated option. Those little cutouts generally give just enough stretch to a shoe that bunions won't feel cramped for space.
7. Wedges/Chunky Heels
Try: Hinge Cora Block Heel Sandal, $90, Nordstrom
Wedges and chunky heels make it easier to balance and walk than stiletto options. When balancing and walking are more centered and natural, it takes pressure off bunions for more comfortable feet.
8. Ankle Straps
Try: Jeffrey Campbell Lindsay Ankle Strap Sandal, $130, Nordstrom
When looking to high-heels, an ankle strap can make a world of difference in bunion comfort. Just like wedges and block heels make balancing easier, ankle straps provide that extra level of security that reduce pressure on bunions for an easier gait.
9. Cushioned Foot Bed
Try: Kork-Ease Myrna 2.0, $140, Kork-Ease
If the foot-bed of your shoe is too thin, chances are the first place you'll feel pain is in your bunion. So to keep the impact low and the pressure off, look for foot-beds that are cushioned with cork, memory foam, or generally thicker material than the average shoe.
10. Anti-Friction Barriers
Try: PreHeels, $15, PreHeels
Regardless of what type of shoe you choose to wear though, if you need a little extra help preventing friction against your bunion, opt for a clear, liquid barrier. All you have to do is spray it on your bunion, wait for it to dry, slip on your shoes, and go.
Try: Bitly Comprehensive Ball of Foot Cushions Kit, $13, Amazon
It's amazing how much relief a little extra cushion under the ball of your foot can bring. Slip one of these insoles into any pair of shoes to make them instantly more wearable.
12. Bunion Sleeves
Try: Dr. Fredrick's Original Gel Pad Bunion Sleeves, $14, Amazon
For extra cushioning directly over your bunion, opt for a sleeve that you can wear alone or with shoes. For the most comfort, try wearing a bunion sleeve under a snug-fitting sock to prevent awkward bunching or rolling.
With any of these options you'll be able to keep your shoes on longer and walk farther. Of course, if you're still worried about managing bunion pain or are unsure what will work for you, be sure to talk to your doctor or podiatrist.