Does Running Cause Bunions? – Best Advice for Runners!

Did you know that most runners face the same foot deformity as you? Bunions are pretty common in runners and professional athletes. However, that does not mean Bunion is a must with running!

A bunion is an outward misalignment of the big toe joint that causes the formation of a lump. The lump seems to progress with additional factors like running, narrow shoes, hormonal changes, and many more. Even more, Bunions can form at both ends of the feet.

Running not only causes Bunion formation at the metatarsophalangeal joint but also at the base of your pinky toe, called Tailor’s Bunion.

Running is essential for stronger muscular movement and strengthening your gait. However, if the very thing starts to cause a problem, then you should be wary. Running goes deeper than the surface as factors like speed, crashing force, friction, and continuous pace start Bunion’s formation.

That is if your Bunion is not hereditary. The probability of inheritance increases is based on your parents. If both of them have bunions, you will most likely end up with one as well.

To answer the question, Can Running Cause Bunions, I have mentioned factors that alleviate the formation. It may not be the only primary cause, but if faced with constant ignorance can lead to Hallux Valgus and Tailor’s Bunion.

Constant Friction:

The choice of the right shoe matters a lot in the running. Running is an exercise that is done frequently and every day. You have to take a moment to choose the comfortable interior of the shoes. The seamless shoes with soft and padded sock liners decrease friction. Continuous rubbing against the material increases temperature and chaffs the skin.

That not only causes inflammation but skin problems. Calluses and corn are commonly seen. Another misconception of Bunions is Bursa that is a fluid filled sack! Bursa may not be a bunion, but Bunions’ painful symptoms can cause bacterial infection.

Narrow toe box:

Narrow toe boxes of athletics do not develop the Hallux Valgus from scratch, but it does increase its intensity and pain. Bunions are less stable than an average foot because the outward protrusion divides the body weight unevenly. The rounded outward jutting is also hard to jam into the narrow shoes. If you push against the odds, then it is most likely to injure the area. Broader and softer shoes are a safer option.


The midsole of the feet matters a lot. Regardless of running shoes or sandals, it would help if you chose a sturdy yet comfortable midfoot. It enables you to maintain body weight and take the pressure off the toes. The footbed acts as secondary padding that brackets the lump and catalyzes its healing ability.

Choose the socks wisely:

It is not a joke when you are advised to choose the right socks for bunions. The right kind of fabric can heal the pointed tender area within a few months. Cotton socks are commonly used; however, they are not a safe option. Cotton increases friction that causes redness and swelling of a bunion.

Choose spandex or wool socks. They are not only comfortable but provide maximum coverage. Avoid socks that have seams for the toes. That increases the rubbing of toes and juts out the protrusion more. Seamless socks are safer and give a wide berth to the metatarsal joints.

Repetitive Stress:

At a set pace and speed, the shock from the ground is repeatedly hitting the affected area. It may seem like a trivial thing for a few weeks but imagine if it is done for years. The unprotected attack of force is bound to leave its mark on the feet in the form of Bunion.


Bunions make it difficult for the feet to distribute body weight. Usually, the toes flex to accommodate for the crushing pressure. However, because of decreased mobility and the pushing of the big toe, the joint’s outward rolling causes anything but help. The pain increases when the weight of the body comes crashing down on the restrained area.

Relief from Symptoms:

Running may cause bunions, but it does not have to be a game stopper. There are facts that, if controlled, can let you run to your heart’s joy. You no longer have to worry about discomfort and progression of the lump.
However, these factors should be adhered to strictly and regularly! We will start with the most common bunion exercises:

Toe Spreads:
Place your feet on the ground and relax them. Now lift the toes while keeping the heels on the floor. Flex your toes wider and contract them. Repeat this exercise fifteen to twenty times.

Toe circles:
Place your feet on the ground. Bend over and touch your toes. Keep the feet level with the ground. Hold your big toe and rotate it clockwise twenty times. Repeat the exercise two to three times while giving the toe a break for one minute.

The rotation regulates blood flow and eases the stiffness in the joint.

Towel grip:

Place a towel or any thick washcloth on the ground. Grip it with your toes. Roll the toes inward while holding the towel. Keep doing it for seven minutes.

Ball roll:
Take a soft, scrunch ball and place the center of your feet on it. Now roll the ball with your feet till it reaches both ends. Grip the ball when it comes to the toes and release it. Repeat the motion ten to fifteen times.

Additional Support:

Apart from foot exercises, you can choose natural methods to bring back the natural anatomy of feet before the Bunions had formed.

    • Wider shoes to decrease pressure.
    • Use of anti-inflammatory and antibacterial drugs.
    • Topical and parenteral corticosteroids are common.
    • Moleskin or glue filled pads for the bunion area.
    • Toe separates to help joints regain their shape.
    • Night splints for straightening the anatomy of bunions.
    • Icing method.
    • Foot exercises for energizing ligaments and tendons around bunions.
    • Orthotic shoes are worn with supportive shoe inserts.

Surgical methods:

Surgical methods for bunions are a long shot and mostly pursued in advanced Bunion runners. It is also commonly recommended to patients who have severe effects of bunions that have spread to their 2nd and 3rd toes. Sometimes there is overlapping on the other toes that can lead to permanent deformities.

Bunionectomy is advised by the foot specialist as a last resort. If the other methods are no longer useful, then surgery will help!
The type of surgical procedure mainly depends on the intensity of the deformity.


Running is a healthy exercise with many physiological benefits. Do not let a foot deformity come in your way as you still have the power to change and alter the factors mentioned above. I hope you make the most out of it!

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