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If you have an asymptomatic or mild bunion, you can continue running. However, if you have a severe bunion, we recommend that our patients cease running until they have a running gait analysis. This analysis aims to identify factors in your running style that can contribute to the formation and worsening of your bunion. Simple measures like increasing your cadence or foot strike position can prolong your ability to run with a bunion.
Footwear choices are essential when it comes to running with a bunion. Minimalist running shoes have a higher likelihood of irritating symptoms, while cushioned, stable shoes are likely to reduce pain levels and prolong your ability to run with a bunion.
We would recommend considering the following steps for Bunion Relief for Runners:
Movement patterns of the foot mainly cause bunions through the gait cycle or poor footwear. If your biomechanics make you more susceptible to developing a bunion when walking, then running can do the same but quicker due to the increased force associated with running.
Bunion formations are very slow and progressive unless there has been trauma, such as a fracture to the big toe. Keeping this in mind, if you have no pain or mild pain, you can continue to walk as usual with a bunion. Remember that footwear plays a significant role in preventing a bunion from getting worse, and we have written a detailed article on what to consider when choosing your footwear when you have a bunion here.
If you have moderate or severe symptoms of a bunion, you can continue to walk but consider walking for up 20 minutes at a time 3-4 times daily rather than lengthy walks of 1 hour or more.
If you cannot walk pain-free with a bunion, then we would not recommend hiking with a bunion. When walking up a hill, significant extension of the big toe joint is required, which places greater force through the joint than walking on flat surfaces and due to the nature of hiking, it is likely to worsen your bunion pain.
If you have an asymptomatic bunion or mild symptoms, ensure that you have a correctly fitted hiking shoe to reduce the risk of irritation.
Cycling does not worsen bunions if you wear correctly fitting cycling shoes. Once a cycling shoe is correctly fitted, the big toe stays in a neutral position throughout the pedal stroke, and the foot moves in one plane, which prevents a bunion from being caused or worsened.
If you have a severe bunion, any form of pressure through the forefoot may irritate your symptoms, regardless of the exercise. Still, overall, Cycling is OK to do with a bunion. If you don’t have cleats, we recommend cycling with a high cadence, low resistance and staying in the saddle for the entire cycle.
Swimming is the best form of cardiovascular exercise for bunions. Due to its non-impact nature, it cannot cause nor worsen a bunion. For severe cases of bunions, we recommend not to push off the wall with your affected foot, but otherwise, it is an excellent solution for keeping fit and healthy.