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Struggling With Bunions? These Are The 14 Best Pain-Free Shoes To Try

mbg Associate Food & Health Editor

By Merrell Readman

mbg Associate Food & Health Editor

Merrell Readman is the Associate Food & Health Editor at mindbodygreen. Readman is a Fordham University graduate with a degree in journalism and a minor in film and television. She has covered beauty, health, and well-being throughout her editorial career.

Image by Studio Firma / Stocksy

July 30, 2022

Nothing can ruin a nice walk quite like wearing the wrong shoes for your feet, and it’s only made worse if you struggle with an issue as uncomfortable as bunions. A painful bump that develops on the inside of the big toe joint, bunions can cause the foot to appear misshapen and feel quite stiff, especially if your shoes are squeezing that area.

If you’ve been ignoring the issue for far too long and are ready to make the investment in a shoe that alleviates pain and doesn’t add more pressure to your bunion, these are the best options to consider for offering both cushioning and space.

What are bunions?

Put simply, bunions are bony bumps that develop on the inside joint of your big toe and are generally caused by years of consistent pressure on that area of the foot. This can be due to your specific gait or even the shape of your foot, but the reality is that while they aren’t dangerous, they can be quite painful and may even require surgery to remove.

Can the wrong shoes make bunions worse?

Seeing as bunions are caused by an excess of pressure on the big toe, wearing a shoe that is too small or narrow when you’re already dealing with this issue may make the state of your feet even worse. “A more rigid sneaker will usually cause the forefoot to jam forward into the toe box and can cause more pressure on the bunion,” adds holistic podiatrist Robert Kornfeld, DPM. “Snug fitting shoes won’t cause a bunion, but they will certainly exacerbate symptoms.”With that in mind, it’s essential to shop for shoes that offer space for your feet (and bunion) to breathe for maximum comfort, and to ensure you’re not making things worse.

What to look for if you have bunions.

It can be helpful to have a list of criteria when shopping for shoes to ease your bunions, and Kornfeld provides some useful tips to help select your perfect fit. “[It’s important] that there is a wide enough toe box so the bunion does not receive undue pressure from the side wall of the sneaker,” he explains. Once again, bunions are created by pressure in the first place, so it’s best to avoid it where you can.

“Making sure there is enough room is best accomplished by shopping for sneakers at the end of the day when the foot is naturally larger, since over the course of the day, blood flow into the foot increases girth and can cause some swelling,” he advises. Selecting a wider shoe will go a long way in giving your foot the space it needs. “The shoe should [also] have a soft upper that moves with the foot and a flexible sole,” Kornfeld adds.

How we picked:

Wide toe box

We selected shoes that either have a wider design or offer a wide option to allow your toes the space to breathe without added pressure.

Comfort

We chose shoes that are both comfortable and supportive for a positive wearing experience that won’t make your bunion pain worse.

Flexibility

We included shoes that offer flexibility to both the foot and the shoe so your bunion never feels restricted by the material during normal wear.

Support

We chose shoes that keep the feet secure and supported throughout the day, because you don’t have to sacrifice quality when selecting shoes for your bunions.

mbg’s pick for the best shoes for bunions of 2022:

Best breathable design: Nike Revolution 6

Revolution 6

VIEW ON Amazon | $80VIEW ON Nike | $70

Pros

Flexible cushioningNatural feel

Cons

Flat design

Designed with sustainable materials and a light, breathable design, the Nike Revolution 6’s are comfortable and well-cushioned without causing worsening bunion pain. These shoes are also designed with a natural feel so they’ll feel like clouds on your feet all day.

Best tennis shoes: Asic Gel Cumulus

Gel Cumulus

VIEW ON Amazon | $75VIEW ON Asics | $130

Pros

Wide size rangeBreathable

Cons

Runs large

With a wide size range and color selection, these supportive and well-cushioned shoes are great for neutral tread. If you have high arches, these are the perfect shoes for you and they’ll offer plenty of space for bunions. Plus, they’re nice and breathable for wear on those hot summer days.

Best for wide feet: Adidas Solar Glide 5 Wide

Solar Glide 5 Wide

VIEW ON Amazon | $57VIEW ON Adidas | $130

Pros

Wide fitForefoot and midfoot support

Cons

Only goes up to size 11Minimal color range

Specially designed with a wide toe box and supportive midsole, these shoes are ideal for allowing your toes space to breathe (aka, your bunions)! If you’re looking for a comfortable shoe to wear on days when your feet are feeling tired and need a little extra room, these sneakers will allow you to feel like you’re gliding with every step.

Best for everyday wear: Under Armour Women’s UA Essential Wide (D) Sportstyle Shoes

Women’s UA Essential Wide (D) Sportstyle Shoes

VIEW ON Under Armour | $55VIEW ON Kohls | $65

Pros

BreathableLightweight

Cons

Runs largeMinimal grip

If you want a sock-like shoe ideal for everyday wear that won’t squeeze or compress your bunions, this is the ideal pair for you. With a cushioned EVA midsole and impressive traction, Under Armour has you covered with a durable sneaker with plenty of room to spread your toes.

Best running shoes: HOKA Clifton 8

Clifton 8

VIEW ON Amazon | $258VIEW ON Hoka | $140

Pros

Extended achilles pull tabBreathable meshCushioned

Cons

PriceyNeutral stability

HOKAs are super popular for a reason–they’re high-quality and built with comfort in mind. With neutral stability and a balanced cushioning, your toes will have the space they need while you’re going on your long runs so even hitting the pavement won’t make the pressure worse. Not to mention, the compression-molded EVA midsole and early-stage meta rocker for easy, smooth steps.

Best lace-free: Skechers GOwalk Joy

GOwalk Joy

VIEW ON Amazon | $40VIEW ON Skechers | $65

Pros

Slip onMedium & wide width

Cons

Squeaky

Not everyone wants to have to tie their shoes every time they put them on, so if you’re of a slip-on-and-go person, Skechers GOwalk Joy are the right call. Featuring a spacious toe box and made of breathable, airy material, these shoes are fit for any width feet and will be gentle on your bunions to help alleviate some of the pressure. They’re also machine washable if you find yourself often getting your shoes dirty.

Best width selection: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22

Adrenaline GTS 22

VIEW ON Amazon | $140VIEW ON Brooks | $140

Pros

Wide width selectionSupportive

Cons

Laces come untied

You might be sensing a pattern here, but we love a wide toe box for bunions and Brooks does not disappoint. This supportive and well-cushioned shoes offer balance and support while you’re walking or running, and with 20+ years of innovation behind the design, it’s safe to say this shoes are ready to hit the road, bunions and all.

Best walking shoe: Saucony Echelon Walker 3 Wide

Echelon Walker 3 Wide

VIEW ON Amazon | $120VIEW ON Saucony | $120

Pros

DurableSupportiveWide toe box

Cons

Chunky

They may be chunkier than the sneakers you’re used to, but Saucony has created a shoe that offers plenty of room for your toes to breathe without undue pressure on bunions. These shoes are both durable and springy, plus they complement any width of feet. Bonus points: they’re APMA-certified!

Best arch support: Kuru Atom

Atom

VIEW ON Kuru | $160

Pros

Plush insoleEasy to slip onPadded heel

Cons

Pricey

These sneakers have rave reviews, and for good reason. Both supportive, cushioned, and lightweight, the ATOM’s are designed for high-power performance so no matter what workout you’re doing, your feet will feel their best. Offering medium and wide widths, you can expect a breathable and pain-free wear.

Best for long wear: Ryka Women’s Devotion Plus 3

Women’s Devotion Plus 3

VIEW ON Amazon | $75VIEW ON Ryka | $100

Pros

Impressive shock absorptionBreathableSupportive

Cons

Can feel stiff

Looking to combine style and comfort in your walking shoe? Look no further than Ryk? Devotion Plus 3. Offering impressive shock absorption to leave your feet feeling their best after long wear, your bunions will have the space they need to avoid putting unnecessary extra pressure on that sensitive area of your foot. They even offer responsible cushioning to allow you to feel light on your feet all day long.

Best clogs: Dansko Professional Clog

Professional Clog

VIEW ON Amazon | $130VIEW ON Dankso | $130

Pros

SturdyReinforced toe box

Cons

ChunkyInflexible

A clog isn’t for everyone, but if you’re in need of a sturdy shoe that won’t compress your feet, Dansko leads the pack in bunion support. The roomy and reinforced toe box gives your toes adequate wiggle room, plus the PU outsole with rocker bottom makes every step feel easy. Nurses, this one’s for you.

Best for plantar fasciitis : Vionic Tokyo Sneakers

Tokyo Sneakers

VIEW ON Amazon | $130VIEW ON Vionic | $130

Pros

Flexible & stablePodiatrist-designed footbed

Cons

Minimal arch support

If you have plantar fasciitis and bunions, it’s probably no small task finding a shoe that works. Thankfully, Vionic has designed a sneaker that is both flexible and stable–not to mention it’s fitted with a podiatrist-approved footbed for ultimate comfort. Helping to re-center the natural alignment of your feet, these breathable shoes feature a removable textile-covered EVA orthotic insole so you’ll always feel light on your feet.

Best sandals: Chaco Chillos Flip

Chillos Flip

VIEW ON Amazon | $40VIEW ON Chaco | $20

Pros

AffordableLightweightOpen-toed

Cons

Minimal arch support

Sandals can be tricky when you struggle with bunions, particularly if the strap is digging into your toes. That’s why we trust Chaco’s to offer your feet the space to breathe, while offering maximum comfort and a chic design within a budget-friendly price range. Super light and ready for any activity, if you’re in need of a new staple sandal, these are for you.

Best flat shoes: Altra Escalante Racer

Escalante Racer

VIEW ON Amazon | $140VIEW ON Altra | $140

Pros

Plush midsoleBreathableWide toe box

Cons

Minimal arch support

Sometimes you just want to wear a shoe that allows you to feel one with the earth, and with a flat-sole design, the Escalante Racer is perfect for the job. Offering a wide toe box so your feet can feel at ease on even your most difficult runs, Altra nails the design for a light and airy racing shoe that gives you one less thing to worry about.

FAQ’s

What causes bunions?

Bunions are caused by pressure on the big toe after an extended period of time. “Most bunions are caused by caused by a first metatarsal bone that is hypermobile, which means under the stresses of body weight and impact, the first metatarsal elevates upward, thereby locking the first metatarsal joint,” explains Kornfeld. Essentially what this means is over time the joint of the big toe will become dislocated, creating that uncomfortable bump.

How can you stretch shoes for bunions?

If you already have a pair of shoes you like that aren’t quite suited for bunions, Kornfeld explains that you can actually stretch the shoe to make more room. “Stretching the forefoot of the shoe can create more room for the bunion and decrease the pressure on it. Making a slit under the area where the bunion protrudes can also relieve some of the pressure.”

The takeaway.

Having bunions doesn’t mean you’re destined for a life of pain and discomfort every time you squeeze your feet into a pair of shoes. Instead, you should focus on finding shoes with a wide toe box and a more flexible design that will give your toes the room they need to breathe, alleviating pressure and creating a more pleasant walking experience.

Although bunions are certainly a burden, buying the right pair of shoes is actually one of the best ways to help your feet feel their best in the day to day. When in doubt, check with your podiatrist!

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