1. First and foremost, look for a wide toe box. The best new tool to help you find a shoe that fits nice and wide in the toe box is Shoefitr. It allows you to compare models, so if one model worked for you, you can find a similar fit in a different shoe. The technology is also used in shoe reviews; when I read Running Times' shoe reviews I always look for the nice "roomy" blue or green over the bunion area!
|OUCH! This is the Adidas adiZero Aegis 2: super tight over the bunion!|
- Brooks, especially Pure Project
- Saucony: consistently wider forefoot styles
- Mizuno: Some styles
2. Find a shoe with a mesh or soft fabric upper and minimal overlay at the bunion area. This is key. You want only material that can stretch and conform to your foot's shape over the bunion. Any stiff or non-stretchy fabric or plastic there will create prohibitive rigidity. There have been some fantastic additions to the market with flexible uppers with minimal overlay.
|Altra Instinct: minimal overlay; the strip near the bunion doesn't cross over the foot so doesn't cause narrowing.|
|Karhu still makes some of the best shoes if you want no overlays: this is the Flow trainer|
|The Hoka One One...it's debatable for many reasons but it does limit overlay in the bunion|
|Mizuno Evo Cursoris: wide open!|
|Even the Mizuno Wave Rider keeps the widest area of the toe box free from overlay|
|Saucony's type A isn't overlaid; it's printed.|
|The Saucony spectrum, if you don't want a racing flat|
|The Sketchers GOrun doesn't have overlay, but the stitching might pose a problem|
Obviously there are plenty of other shoes out there to choose from and I'm not endorsing any of these shoes: just using them for demonstration.
3. Go for men's styles if you're a lady. I've been wearing a men's 8.5 for years now and it's the only way I can find a shoe wide enough. Just lace up all the way to make the ankles snug enough.
4. Try a larger size. Maybe you need to go up a half-size. As long as you are not over a thumb-nail length from the front of the shoe, you should be ok and it's worth a try for a wider fit. You can also wear a larger size, and lace it carefully for a better fit: leave the laces loose at the toe, so the shoe can conform to your foot, and tighten as you go up.
|Tight to loose|
5. Look for depth. Even shoes with wide toe boxes can be restrictive if they are not deep enough. After the 2012 Olympics, everyone wanted a pair of Nike Flyknits on their feet. Not me: look at how shallow that forefoot is! Deep shoes give you more wiggle room and more flexibility. Plus, although we tend to think of feet with bunions as just being wider, the bunion also extends down lower than the rest of your foot, so you need a deeper shoe (If you have bunions, look at the profile of your foot and notice how the first MTP joint extends lower than any other part of your foot).
|Look how little depth at the toe!|
6. Buy the right kind of cushioning to protect your bunions. If you have bunions, chances are good that they either hit the ground first as you strike (mid or forefoot strike) or as you transition to toe-off (heel strike). Basically, you are running with the whole weight of your body on one joint! Ease the pressure with a well-cushioned shoe. In my experience, foam seems to be best for this, since your swollen joint can sink down into it: something it can't do in, say, a grid. A word of caution here regarding minimalist shoes: if you want to go zero drop, it's probably best to still buy a shoe with enough cushion. Otherwise, you are slamming an inflamed, painful joint into the ground over and over again with every run.
7. Consider a shoe that promotes a mid-foot strike. In my opinion, going from heel-to-toe is tougher on the bunion than going from mid-foot-to-toe. If you land on your mid-foot, yeah, your bunion probably still strikes first, but then the rest of your forefoot makes contact with the ground, providing a stable base to absorb impact and sharing the work of push-off. When you heel strike you transition from heel to forefoot (your larger bunion striking first, of course) then immediately toe off, putting the full force of that action on your bunion alone. Just a thought. Don't change your form lightly though!
8. Pick the right sock. Everyone's got their favorite sock, and my particular favorite is a lightly padded cotton sock. I don't want any thick terry cloth socks to add bulk to the bunion area!
9. Avoid shoes with pointed toes. The shape not only promotes bunion formation/continuation, it places undue stress on the bunion as you strike and toe-off. Plus, the pointier the toe, the larger a size you'll have to buy to accomodate your width, and going too large can create other problems like black toenails and blisters.
|Altras with flat, broad toes.|