With bunions the simple idea of putting on shoes can be a nightmare. The stores we were once so excited to visit now seem to mock us from the window with their beautiful selection of high heels. But not all is lost! If you know where to look you can snag yourself a dazzling pair of bunion shoes that will have all your friends jealous. You can click here to skip to my recommendations, or read on to learn about what you should look for in a potential shoe.
What Makes a Good Bunion Shoe
While footwear kitted out with all the bells and whistles isn’t necessary when it comes to comfort, there are a few things we should look for in a potential purchase:
Width isn’t the only important aspect of the fit, it’s also important to choose the correct size to allow your feet room to expand when you take a step. If you’re buying non-therapeutic shoes pick a half size up from your true shoe size to allow a little extra wiggle room without looking like Pogo the Clown! Therapeutic models are usually already made a little bit bigger so you should pick your normal size when buying those.
Best Choice: Go for half a size up except in therapeutic styles.
One of the main problems with regular footwear is the tightness. Excessive tightness can put a lot of pressure on bunions causing pain when we walk, which is why we need to go for a style with a wide instep and plenty of room around the toe box (the front portion of the shoe). Shoes are usually made in a variety different widths, each specified by a letter. See the table below for the width each letter represents for women:
If you need to create a little extra room try a shoe stretcher, but be warned, if you have feet which are very narrow at the heel wide shoes could slip right off when you put them on! To prevent this from happening you will need to use insoles or orthotic inserts, or go for a style which is made to fit extra snug around the ankle.
Best Choice: It’s best to pick something wide.
The best choice of material is something soft and stretchy. Sadly there are no such thing as marshmallow footwear (yet!) so we will have to make do with canvas, mesh, lycra and soft leather. Mesh and lycra usually offer the best amount of stretch followed by canvas and finally leather, but all three are fine choices and the material you choose comes down to personal preference. Hard leather has almost no give at all and is not a good choice.
Best Choice: Lycra or mesh.
The higher the heel, the more pressure is placed onto the front of the foot, and the more pressure there is on the front of the foot the more our bunions hurt! A simple way to think of this is to imagine high heels, with high heels our feet are angled so far downwards we are basically forced to walk on tip toes. Ouch! That’s why we need to pick the flattest footwear possible so the weight of our body is evenly distributed across the entire foot. Try to avoid anything with a heel bigger than 2 inches.
Best Choice: Flats.
Cushioned soles allow our feet to sink just a little each time we take a step. This acts like a “shock absorber” and prevents all of the force from being placed onto our feet. When dealing with bunions, the softer the sole the better which means foam soles are the best option followed by wave, grid and mesh.
Best Choice: Foam.
From pretty-but-painful stilettos to clogs, there are many different styles available. Therapeutic shoes which are designed to be comfortable for people with foot problems usually offer the most comfort. Boots can also work well because they allow a lot of room and are well supported, but on the down side they usually have big heels. The worst choices are styles with a “point” which don’t allow enough room around the toe and anything which has material cutting across the toe area as these styles can irritate bunions.
Best Choice: Therapeutic styles are the best for relieving pain.
My Top 10 Recommendations
Here’s my list of the best footwear for people with bunions!
Dr. Fay's Rating
The Olivia Slip-On stretches to avoid putting any pressure on your toes. Walk pain free!
The Marla shoe by Dr. Comfort is wide, deep, stretchy and has room to accomodate orthotic inserts! Total relief from bunion pain!
The Annie-X provides fantastic support and comfort with plenty of room for bunions. From a distance it looks like real leather, especially in beige.
Offer: Comes with a free gel insert!
"What? These aren't normal shoes?!"
InStride Newport walking shoes look like completely normal trainers but are actually designed by podiatrists to relieve bunion pain! Highly recommended!
The Mary Janes provide comfort while still looking like a normal pair of lady's shoes.
Available in black, navy and beige.
The InStride Nellie II was designed by a podiatrist with special cushioning for added shock absorption and comfort.
The Life Walkers are comfortable, supportive and deceptively spacious. What's more, they look like normal sneakers!
Available in black and white.
The Tour Walkers look great and are fastened by velcro, which means it's easier to adjust the tightness of the fit to suit your foot. Fantastic build quality to stand the test of time!
Available in several attractive colors.
Ultimate flatness and ultimate stretch, wearing FootSmarts feels like you're not wearing shoes at all!
Go for the leopard or zebra prints which look like normal shoes!
The best bunion relief on a budget. The Oasis Hannah clogs are very cheap and as an added benefit they keep your feet snug and warm during the winter.