Are painful bunions ruining your running experience? Are you finding it hard to complete a single mile when you could complete 10 before? It’s no secret that bunions can get in the way of our goals, just take a look at famous British marathon runner Paula Radcliffe who had surgery to remove hers!
With the wrong pair of shoes every step we take creates pressure causing irritation and pain when our mind should be free to focus on the road ahead. In this article I’ll talk about which features we should look for in a good running shoe for bunion pain and reveal my recommended list of shoes.
Click here to skip straight to my recommendations!
What To Look For
Most running shoes are made of mesh, but they also tend to have a lot of plastic added on for stability. With bunions these plastic parts can be too restricting and not allow the shoe to conform to the shape of the foot. Picking a shoe without a lot of plastic or reinforcement around the bunion area will help to prevent rubbing and allow the mesh material to stretch and provide comfort during our runs.
Some brands such as Salomon offer special support for runners with bunions by fitting their shoes with a “sensi-flex” insert at the sides of the toes. This stretchy material was designed specifically to allow extra room for bunions.
Raised heels are a big problem, they put the weight of our body onto the front part of our foot causing pain with each step. When running, a raised heel naturally promotes the use of the toes for pushing and momentum which increases the pain further making it almost impossible to go for even the gentlest of jogs! Instead you should look for shoes which have only a very slight drop or a flat heel to distribute the weight evenly throughout the foot and allow for a less toe-oriented running technique. Flat heels can take a long time to get used to, especially for experienced runners who are used to a raised heel and a toe-pushing technique, which is something to consider.
If you have limited ankle dorsiflexion things can get a little trickier, because a flat heel could cause pain. In these cases it’s best to pick a shoe with a slight heel and avoid those which are designed to be completely flat like the Altra Intuition.
Deep and wide
Toebox width is very important! The more width the toebox has the less pressure there will be on the sides of the toes. But even shoes with wide toeboxes can be problematic if they aren’t deep enough. Make sure you go for a style which has enough depth to avoid restriction and give your toes the maximum amount of wiggle room.
Shoes marked as “men’s” can be good for women too! Men’s styles tend to have more room which helps to keep off pressure for very large bunions. However the women’s styles I recommend below are roomier in the toe area than normal and are great to run in, just go half a size up if your bunions are severe.
Check out my recommendations below and complete that marathon! I have carefully handpicked these shoes based on the criteria above and based on my own personal experience with them.
The Brook's beast is every bit as beastly as you'd expect! A very wide, roomy toebox with plenty of depth and an open bunion window with great flexibility are what makes the Beast my top pick for men!
The Altra Torin is an extremely wide shoe which features a zero drop heel meaning your heel and forefoot are aligned. May take some getting used to but it's well worth the pain relief!
Order half a size up.
Saucony shoes are often recommended for bunion sufferers. The Stabil CS2 model is spacious around the toebox and has a wide open bunion window.