How to Prevent Bunions and Foot Pain

Bunions are a common foot condition that can become painful and unsightly. The best method of preventing bunions, or preventing their progression, is to follow a few simple steps. While it’s true that not every bunion can be prevented, it’s also true that the vast majority can. The problem is, most people don’t take bunion prevention seriously until it’s too late.

Soft focus woman massaging her foot
 spukkato / Getty Images

If you are worried that you are forming bunions, don’t turn your world upside down. Just read through these recommendations, try to make some simple changes, and see if your symptoms start to ease. The good news, even if bunions don’t go away, they often become less symptomatic when people start to change their footwear.

6 Tips to Prevent Bunions

Bunions can be aggravating, but there are a number of things you can do to cope if they interfere with your mobility or cause you pain.

Pad the Bunion

When the bunions become painful and irritated, they become more prominent. If it’s bothering you, place some moleskin or cushion around the bunion. Podiatrists often can help you find some simple braces or pads to protect your bunion.

People will sometimes have foot mechanics that place abnormal pressure on a bunion. These mechanics can often be corrected with custom or off-the-shelf orthotics

Your healthcare provider or podiatrist can help you find the most appropriate for your foot and foot position.

Wear Comfortable Shoes

This may seem obvious, but if the shoes are causing pain at the site of your bunion, then they’re not good shoes to be wearing. The pain that comes from bunions is a result of increased pressure over the prominent portion of the bunion. Easing pressure on this area means the bunion is not progressing, and it also feels better that way.

Buy Shoes With a Wide Toe Box

Wider shoes may not be as fashionable as the newest Polo or DKNY shoes (if I’m showing my lack of style, I apologize!), but comfort really should matter more. Good shoes will have a wide toe box that easily fits your forefoot. Shoes should not push your toes together to a point, but rather they should allow your toes to rest comfortably.

Avoid High Heels

Heels cause orthopedic surgeons to shudder, and for good reason—they’re bad for your feet. If you have to wear them, do so in moderation. High heels force the toes to be pushed together in the front of the shoe, causing pressure and deformity of the toes.

Make Sure the Shoe Fits Correctly

The toe box is just one area—the rest of the shoe, including heel and arch, should also fit well. Try some tips on how to buy the right shoes. When trying on shoes, walk around in them, and make sure they feel good. Our parents used to tell us that shoes need to be broken in... These days a good fitting shoe should feel comfortable when you first put it on.

If possible, buy shoes at the end of the day. Your feet will almost invariably be larger from walking around all day. By doing so, you can avoid getting shoes that are too snug.

Rest Your Feet

Whether at the office or around the house, don’t be afraid to slip off your shoes every now and then to relax your feet. Your feet will appreciate this break, despite objections from your co-workers. If you have to wear high heels or tight shoes for an event, be sure to wear comfortable shoes for the rest of the day.

A Word From Verywell

A few simple steps can make a big difference. Preventing bunions does not have to mean wearing athletic shoes or (gasp!) orthopedic shoes. You can make some simple changes that can help to prevent the progression of toe deformities.

The vast majority of bunions are the direct result of footwear causing pressure on the toes. By relieving this pressure, you probably won’t go backward, but you can prevent the progression of this deformity.

2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Yu G, Fan Y, Fan Y, et al. The role of footwear in the pathogenesis of hallux valgus: a proof-of-concept finite element analysis in recent humans and Homo naledi. Front Bioeng Biotechnol. 2020;8:648. doi:10.3389/fbioe.2020.00648

  2. Wülker N, Mittag F. The treatment of hallux valgus. Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2012;109(49):857-868. doi:10.3238/arztebl.2012.0857

By Jonathan Cluett, MD
Jonathan Cluett, MD, is board-certified in orthopedic surgery. He served as assistant team physician to Chivas USA (Major League Soccer) and the United States men's and women's national soccer teams.