Bunions: The Silent Epidemic and How to Tackle Them Head-On
Did you know that almost third of the world's population will experience bunions at some point in their lives? It's more than just a cosmetic concern; it's a global health issue, affecting millions of feet, causing pain and discomfort.
If you've ever looked down at your feet and noticed that unmistakable bump, or felt the nagging pain associated with it, this recent Restore To Explore podcast episode is for you.
In this discussion with fellow physiotherapist Tom Williams is a comprehensive deep dive into bunions, how they form, and what you can do about them.
Check it out below or keep reading for a summary of the key points.
What Exactly is a Bunion?
A bunion, or hallux valgus, is a bony bump that forms at the base joint of your big toe. It occurs when your big toe pushes against your next toe, forcing the joint to get bigger and stick out. This condition can be painful, and the skin over the bunion might become red and sore.
The Root Causes
Contrary to popular belief, bunions aren't just an inheritance from your parents or grandparents. While genetics do play a role, there's more to the story. Our modern lifestyle, from the shoes we wear to our daily activities, contributes significantly to the formation of bunions.
Shoes, especially those with a narrow toe box or high heels, force our feet into unnatural positions. This prolonged pressure can push our toes together, initiating the bunion-forming process. Other factors like arthritis and previous injuries can also increase the likelihood of a bunion developing.
How to Address Bunions
The best approach is holistic, involving a mix of therapy, exercises, and lifestyle changes:
- Footwear choice: Opt for shoes that are foot shaped (i.e. a wide toe box) - these will give your feet the space they need to splay naturally. Be careful of brands that promote ‘wide’ shoes that are actually widest at the ball of the foot - these will still create a cramping effect on your toes. Our Natural Footwear Finder has a heap of our favourite brands.
- Exercises: Simple exercises that train the muscles in your feet to move and splay your toes are ideal for restoring alignment and improving function. Movements like Toe Piano and Hacky Picks are a perfect for this - you can find some videos and routines on our YouTube channel.
- Manual Therapy: While seeking a therapist's services can be beneficial, simple techniques like massaging the bottom of your feet with a cork or lacrosse ball or weaving all your fingers can also help release tension in the foot muscles and fascia.
- Mindful Movement: Balance and progressive strength training can be really powerful tools for restoring natural foot function, which will help slow or even potentially reverse the progression of your bunion. Check out our range of exercises and routines on our YouTube channel to help you get started.
Remember to make these changes gradually - this will allow your feet time to adapt to the new loads and demands being placed on them. Too much too soon can be a recipe for more pain and discomfort!
Remember, while these strategies can offer relief, everyone's body is unique. What works wonders for one may not yield the same results for another. This blog is meant to serve as guidance, but it's vital to consult with a health professional for personalised advice and treatment.
If you're looking for trusted professionals to help you on your journey to healthier feet, check out our TFC Pro Directory. Whether you want to book a consult with me (Jim), Tom, or one of our other esteemed TFC pros near you, we're here to guide you every step of the way.
The journey to rectifying bunions might be challenging, but with the right guidance and dedication, you can improve your function and pain so you can get back to doing the things you love to do. Your feet carry you through life. It's time to give them the care they deserve.
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