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How to Work Out When You Have a Bunion

How to Work Out When You Have a Bunion

Getting to the gym can be difficult enough when your body’s in perfect working order. Throw in a bony protrusion on the side of your big toe, and you may throw in the towel altogether. 

Bunions are toe deformities that can look bad and feel worse. In addition to the awkward bump sticking out on your foot, you may experience pain, soreness, redness, numbness, and stiffness. Symptoms can become so severe that it’s uncomfortable to walk, let alone hop on a treadmill or play a sport. 

Because we know how necessary physical fitness is to your overall health, Kelly L. Geoghan, DPM, and our team present these simple strategies to stay active even when you have a painful foot condition. 

Bunion beginnings

To care for bunions and keep up your lifestyle despite them, it helps to understand what’s caused them in the first place. 

The metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint at the base of your big toe is the junction of your metatarsal bone in your foot and the phalanx bone in your toe. Ideally, they form a straight line. However, when these two bones shift in opposite directions, the misalignment enlarges the MTP joint and creates a bump. 

Although not as common, you can also develop bunions on your little toe, called tailor’s bunions or bunionettes.

Anything that puts extra pressure on your toe can cause a bunion to develop, including:

Your family history and bone structure can also contribute to your likelihood (and the severity) of bunions. 

Leaving a bunion untreated can lead to other problems, ranging from calluses and corns to progressive arthritis; it can also affect your body mechanics if you favor your foot. We have years of experience treating bunions and can create a customized treatment plan to help you manage and correct them. 

Nonsurgical treatments include anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroid injections, taping, padding, and hot and cold therapy. Only severe bunions that don't respond to conservative methods need surgery. 

We also provide detailed, tailored-to-you care instructions to help you live a healthy, active lifestyle. Here are some basics to help you get started before your appointment. 

Examine your footwear

Your shoe choice may have exacerbated or even caused your bunion, so you must have the proper footwear when heading to the gym. 

After checking your feet, Dr. Geoghan can recommend brands and styles that fit you properly and have a wide toe box to provide adequate space for your foot and your bunion. Your shoes should also have cushioning support for your arch, heel, and toe to absorb shock as you move. 

If you’re unsure whether your current pair of gym shoes is up to snuff, bring them to your appointment. 

Consider orthotics

Even the best shoes can get better when you add custom orthotics. We often recommend these shoe inserts for our patients with bunions (especially our active patients) to offer additional support and ensure proper foot alignment that helps with reducing pain in the toe joint and slowing its progression.

We make orthotics to fit your foot exactly and slip seamlessly into your shoes so you don’t skip a beat while training. 

Change up your routine

You may love to play pickleball or to spend your workouts on the treadmill, but these high-impact activities aren’t ideal for feet with bunions. 

Until we get your bunion under control, switch up your workouts to include more low-impact exercises, like swimming, water aerobics, yoga, and bicycling. Lifting weights, especially if you’re seated while you lift, is another great option. If leg-pumping movement is more your style, swap your treadmill for an elliptical machine. 

Bunions don’t have to grind your active life to a complete halt. If you partner with Dr. Geoghan, you don’t have to sacrifice your other health and wellness goals. For more information about bunion treatment options, contact Kelly L. Geoghan, DPM, in Lutherville, Maryland, today.

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