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There are plenty of common foot ailments that lead to pain, like plantar fasciitis, flat feet, and high arches. Bunions, however, can be particularly painful.
It’s sent many people, primarily women, to the podiatrist’s office, as Dr. Glenn Davison, owner of Advanced Podiatry in New York City and New Jersey and a Fellow in the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, can attest.The good news is that, according to Davison, with early intervention it is possible to avoid bunions. That means obtaining proper foot support with the best shoes for bunions.
What causes bunions?
There are a lot of misconceptions about bunions and what causes them, with many people citing genetics, or even high heels as the inciting factor. However, it’s a little more complicated than that.
“The bottom line is you get a bunion because of your biomechanics,” says Davison.
When the foot’s arch drops, or pronates, this causes the muscles on the bottom and side of the foot to stretch. Pronation increases pressure on the foot’s inner area. Bunions occur when the muscles on the top of the foot try to compensate for this, pulling back, but causing bone to jut out.
So genetics do play a part in causing bunions, but not how most people think of it.
“You didn’t get a bunion because your grandmother had a bunion. You got a bunion because your feet pronate, just like your grandmother pronated.”
Can shoes correct bunions?
The good and bad news about bunions is that they are treatable through proper footwear, but early intervention is key to prevention.
“If you take a kid whose muscles are young and flexible and adapting and you put them into a device like orthotic footwear that doesn’t allow for pronation, their feet will form and grow and develop in the correct position,” Davison explains.
That’s why footwear that stabilizes the foot into the ideal neutral position, where weight is evenly distributed across the foot, is so important.
Davison advises that even people without foot issues spend at least 50 to 60 percent of the time they are on their feet in supportive shoes, to “greatly reduce the chance of developing bunions” in the future.
By the time patients arrive in his office, they are usually far past that point, however, and experiencing significant pain.
They might benefit from custom orthotics, or in some cases, surgery to remove the bunion, but they can also greatly alleviate their pain with their shoe choice.
What to look for in the best shoes for bunions
High heels don’t directly cause bunions, but they do exacerbate the problem, causing certain parts of the foot to absorb more pressure than others, leading to pronation.
“High heels add insult to injury,” Davison says.
Plenty of companies today create footwear with proper biomechanics in mind, from sneakers, boots, and sandals to, yes, even some high heels that aren’t too high and have lots of support.
“A good corrective shoe will stabilize the foot,” Davison advises. That means look for qualities like arch support, as well as proper cushioning to stay comfortable.
One of the biggest keys for bunion sufferers is to look for a wide shoe fit and a roomy toe box. “Avoid straight or narrow toe beds,” Davison warns, which can result in painful friction.
We’ve selected the 19 best shoes for bunions that offer support and were designed with proper foot anatomy in mind. Read on to find the pair that works for you.
Vionic Kamryn Waterproof Boot
Best Orthopedic Shoes for Bunions
Anyone with foot problems knows what it’s like to have limited shoe options. The Vionic Kamryn Waterproof Boot allows those who suffer from bunions to enjoy fall boot season, thanks to orthotic comfort and support. Vionic’s Orthaheel encourages proper foot alignment, and there’s a removable orthotic insole with arch support. These earn extra points for being waterproof.
Naturalizer Emeline Flat Loafer
Best Flat Shoes for Bunions
The Naturalizer Emeline Flat Loafer is, yes, a flat, but not entirely. A dual-density cushioned footbed provides structure, as does the contoured insole with arch support. The textured, slip-resistant sole provides traction no matter the surface. Most importantly, the toe box isn’t narrow, so bunions have room. Wear low socks to prevent chafing.
Clarks Kaylin Flex Pump
Best Dress Shoes for Bunions
Clarks Kaylin Flex Pump is a lifesaver for those special occasions when a little heel goes a long way. This moderate 2 1/4-inch heel just does that without sacrificing comfort. The block heel is a walkable style and is equipped with shock absorption. A rounded toe is much more spacious than the typical pump.
Hush Puppies Cora Leather Loafer
Most Stretchable Shoes for Bunions
Lots of give makes these Hush Puppies Cora Leather Loafers bunion-friendly. The footbed has memory foam cushioning for superior comfort. They even come in a wide fit.
New Balance 847v4 Walking Sneaker
Best Walking Shoes for Bunions
The New Balance 847v4 Walking Sneaker is designed for total foot support. Anatomic cushioning helps distribute weight evenly, reducing the splay of the foot that causes and exacerbates bunions. The sturdy collar provides ankle stability.
Gravity Defyer Ion Walking Shoe
The Gravity Defyer Ion Walking Shoe comes with podiatrist-grade orthotics formulated specifically to address ailments like bunions and plantar fasciitis. It features foam cushioning and is anti-microbial treated. A round toe gives your feet the space they need. The rubber sole supports traction.
New Balance 430 Running Shoe
The New Balance 430 Running Shoe has garnered hundreds of five-star reviews, with several happy customers noting the comfort of the wide fit. Built for high intensity workouts like pounding the pavement on a long run, they have a cushioned, supportive insole. Mesh lining keeps air circulating.
Skechers Trego El Capitan Hiking Boot
Best Hiking Shoes for Bunions
The Skechers Trego El Capitan Hiking Boot are crafted in a relaxed, roomy fit, perfect for those suffering from bunions. Reviewers compare their comfort to a “cloud,” and note that the stylish pair doesn’t require breaking in. Wear these in the great outdoors or anytime you’re on your feet for a long time.
Brooks Transmit 3 Running Shoe
Best Running Shoes for Bunions
This podiatrist approved pair of Brooks Transmit 3 Running Shoes is big on structure, keeping your foot in the ideal neutral position that will decrease pain stemming from bunions. They offer lots of cushioning, too. Dr. Davison says: “A sneaker-like shoe is probably the best kind of shoe if you’re going be running around a city all day.”
Crocs Classic Clog
Best Wide-Fitting Shoes for Bunions
Crocs Classic Clog has steadily converted the masses to its cause over the years, providing unparalleled comfort. Available in a ton of colors, the wide fit makes them an easy choice if you deal with bunions. They have the ease of a slip-on but with a handy heel strap that keeps feet grounded in proper position.
Orthofeet Quincy Slip-On
Best All-Around Shoes for Bunions
The soft, nonbinding upper of the Orthofeet Quincy Slip-On gives your foot as much space as it needs. They are also available in wide sizing. Equipped with orthotic insoles and an anatomical arch, every part of the foot is supported and protected. Dr. Davison says: “Shoes nowadays have come so far. There’s a lot of thought that goes into them. Avoid narrow, restrictive toe beds.”
Saucony Grid Excursion T12 Sneaker
Best Athletic Shoes for Bunions
Thousands of glowing Amazon reviews attest to the comfort of the Saucony Grid Excursion T12 Sneakers. Everyone from athletes to nurses on their feet all day for 12-hour shifts applaud their wide, comfortable fit. There is extra traction in the sole to help navigate uneven surfaces, like outdoor trails.
DENACARE Wide Width Shoes
An adjustable closure on the DENACARE Wide Width Shoes allows the shoe to accommodate bunions, instead of the other way around. They also have an extra roomy toe box, yet don’t skimp on the memory foam padding and arch support. Remove the insole to insert custom orthotics. These are also recommended for those who suffer from plantar fasciitis, swollen feet, and edema.
Dr. Scholl’s Madison Sneaker
Most Fashionable Shoes for Bunions
Stylish and comfortable is exactly the intersection where Dr. Scholl’s Madison Sneaker lives. Stretch gore panels and a padded collar make these easy to slip on, while anatomical cushioning and a wide toe box provide support. They’re also sustainably crafted, with the linings and microsuede coming from recycled plastic bottles.
Nike Women’s Revolution 5 Wide Running Shoe
One of the most comfortable sneakers for women, the Nike Women’s Revolution 5 Wide Running Shoe is lightweight and flexible. Say goodbye to bunion stress with the extended width and say hello to comfortable daily activities. The breathable outer material makes these great for working out.
Arcopedico L15 Flat Shoes
The genius of the Arcopedico L15 Flat is in its ultra-flexible upper that stretches and adapts to the foot, perfect for hammertoes and bunions. The material is also breathable and water resistant. The twin arch system in the removable insole support’s bones and joints.
Cloud Hattie Wedge Sandal
A comfortable wedge sandal is a must in anyone’s shoe arsenal. The Cloud Hattie is bunion-friendly, thanks to elastic that stretches across the top of the foot to the wearer’s width. The contoured footbed is equipped with odor fighting and moisture wicking microfiber.
Vionic Relax Slides
Best Slippers for Bunions
Lots of slippers are comfy, but the Vionic Relax Slides are wide to accommodate bunions. They’re also extra supportive with their low wedge design. These are a great alternative to walking around the house barefoot, as bunions will benefit from proper arch support.
Anodyne No. 11 Sport Trainer
Fun colors will lighten up your mood while arch support will lighten your step in the Anodyne No. 11 Sport Trainers. They’re available in a regular, wide or extra-wide fit, ideal for bunions. They’re also lightweight but stable with a rigid heel counter and strong shank. The hook and loop strap lets you adjust the fit for the perfect feel.