Best Running Shoes for Bunions

The heat of the summer is finally over. I'm back in the sun room more. It's a little bit more enjoyable here in the fall. And today I want to do another shoe fitting video where we talk about the very specific problem some of you may be experiencing in trying to find a good shoe to run in.

The heat of the summer is finally over. I'm back in the sun room more. It's a little bit more enjoyable here in the fall. And today I want to do another shoe fitting video where we talk about the very specific problem some of you may be experiencing in trying to find a good shoe to run in.

Even if you don't have this particular problem. There are going to be tips in this video that you can use to find a good fit for your shoe. So if you have bunions, let's talk about some specific shoes that are out as well as what you need to be looking for in general to get a good running shoe to have while you've got bunions.

I'm Jesse Funk, the founder of and the host of this show, Runner's High, where we talk about everything running and running related like today's topic, finding good shoes for somebody who has bunions. So if you like running, stick around. Hit subscribe. You get more videos every single week. I do this show and I also do a really cool thing called a podcast, if you ever heard of that, we do a video version. I talk to all kinds of awesome people on the Smart Athlete Podcast anybody from ultra runners to Olympic rowers, and we talk all things sports. So it's a really cool show. You should check that out as well.

But onto today's episode where we're talking about how to find a shoe that's going to fit bunions. Now I'm going to give some examples of shoes that are out right now that people like for bunions.

But shoes change all the time. That means that any suggestion I can give while I'm recording this video is going to be very topical. So I want to go over what are the qualities of a shoe and why that you're looking for those things to get the right fit for you. Knowing that I spent three and a half, almost four years fitting shoes full time for people with medical conditions to runners. So the whole gamut of people, we saw all kinds of different foot issues and getting the right fit for the right person, for the right activity was my full time job. So I am more than qualified to speak about this.

So let's get on to what you're looking for in general before we get to the specific mentions of shoes. So today I want to use my handy dandy whiteboard, do a little bit of drawing. So we're going to do some overhead shots and I'm going to show you kind of like what a "normal foot" looks like versus a bunion, while we're making considerations for particular shoes.

So hopefully this will go relatively quickly. Excuse my drawing. It's been a long time since I've really spent any time drawing, so I'm not going to be the best. So we'll jump ahead to the overhead shot of doing the whiteboard and kind of showing what we're looking for in shoes. And my video editor will hopefully speed me up as we're going through the drawing. So you're not watching me draw in real-time.

So we've got our basic foot, not a great drawing. So excuse me, but so with our shape here, we've just have our heel. It tapers to the middle and it comes out. We've got our comic toes here. You know, largely your big toe is bigger than this. And then on to our bunion toe. Let me draw that here real quick. So in comparison, we get to -- see if I can do this. We get to our bunion and it produces this large lump on this side, which can be painful for some people. Other people, it's not going to be.

But you can see the basic problem, right, is that it changes the fundamental shape of your foot. So many shoes are not going to fit. Shoes are built on what's called a "last" and a last is basically a model replica of a shape of a foot. There are many different types of shapes of feet, and the last is the attempt to replicate a certain shape.

Now, the other thing to take in consideration when you're talking just shoes is that these are 2D models of feet and we're working with 3D models so we can talk about this in another video. But dealing with your instep, how tall your foot is, also changes the dynamics of what kind of shoe you're going to be in. So like I know I have a higher instep on my right foot, that's the height of your foot than I do my left foot. And that changes the genesis of which choose to choose for me.

So with our examples here with the bunion in particular, the solution looks relatively similar to our foot, right? So we want something with a wide toe box. That means often Nike gets a bad rap here because sometimes they can make shoes that do fit. But historically, Nike makes much tighter, narrowly fitting shoes. So often people just steer clear of the brand altogether. They are coming out with more shoes that kind of fit for people like this.

You have to look at the size and shape of your foot, how severe that bunion is, as to how wide your toe box needs to be and the sensitivity. So if your bunion is painful, you're probably going to need a wider toe box than if somebody who has one that's basically not painful at all doesn't get irritated. If you're that case or it doesn't get irritated, you can probably use a little bit tighter toe box. You don't want tight but more snug. And with that mesh lining, we usually get in running shoe uppers.

You can have some kind of slightly snug fit and not be too much of an issue. The big challenge for you, if you have a bunion, is going to be getting a shoe that has a last that's like a triangle where you have a nice big toe box, but then it narrows and tapers towards the heel.

So I worked at a New Balance store, and New Balance is known for having various sizes and widths, which is great if you need to get a bigger shoe so some people have wider feet than others, not just shape consideration, but it's a volume consideration. So on occasion, depending on the last, that's the shape of the shoe, we would go with a wider shoe. The problem being if the last wasn't tapered enough towards the heel, then you would be like swimming here.

So if I can get my other, I'm going to be drawing left-handed. So apologies. So maybe it fits up here, but then the shoe is enormous. You know, around that foot. So what you need is a shoe that tapers. Now, a shoe is supposed to fit the size and shape of your foot. But you need something with that wide toe box that tapers strongly towards the heel.

And this is a kind of a trick because any kind of shoe that you're going to get, often they're fitting general shapes. So it's like trying to fit your custom shape, which is what God gave you, what you were born with. Because bunions are often genetic and they can be the cause of tight shoes, but often genetic. So you're trying to fit your custom shape your unique foot into a general shaped shoe. And that's the challenge.

So those are the general characteristics. Let's go over some of the shoes out now that have been recommended by people on Reddit who are dealing with this problem been fit recently. Nothing. You know, the general characteristics of what you're looking for. We can go over some of those specifics, at least for the time of this video.

Number one is the Brooke's Ghost Series is the Ghost 13 that we could find at the time. But they're transitioning over to the new model. Neutral shoe, pretty traditional heel-to-toe drop, 12 millimeters. So it's going to have that taller stack height differential. And then again, neutral shoe. Brooks has been around forever. So, you know, they're going to be making roughly the same shoe day in, day out.

This is one of the reasons I personally got back to wearing some shoes from ASICs because they kind of make traditional running shoes. This isn't always going to be necessarily the best fit for you. But as an aside for shoe challenges, if you can find a series in one of the established makers or in a new shoemaker that you are confident is going to keep characteristics similar between shoe models, that's what I like.

Otherwise, you end up kind of juggling through trying to find the right shoe every single time, which is a huge pain in the but. So pretty classic shoe if you don't overpronate good to go with the ghost. That is a consideration. With that traditional head-to-toe drop, I used a lower heel-to-toe drop for a number of years during my triathlon years. And then it actually caused me problems as I came back to running full-time.

And that's been this whole year of now recovery with my Achilles tendon. So I think you can use the lower heel-to-toe drop in certain situations, especially racing flats, faster shoes, everyday use, especially if you're running more miles, you're getting up over 20, 25 miles. Doing something like the ghost with the traditional heel-to-toe drop may save your Achilles tendon a little bit more and you don't need more problems on top of the bunions.

So number two and I'm going to list here, so I've got to look at my computer. The HOKA Clifton. HOKAs really blown up since they've launched. This is not a shoe I particularly like because of how they design them. So that's going to be the biggest con is that you're buying into the HOKA system basically with the whole way the shoe, rocks and rolls. It's a personal preference.

Anytime I'm talking about shoes and this is why pretty much I almost never mentioned specific shoes, is that what's right for me? I may not necessarily be right for you. So these are some options recommended by other people that other people have liked. Great options to try out. If you go to a local running store, they can also guide you in terms of the fit with the wider toe box tapering towards the heel.

But again, just depends, but kind of a new entry into the space. I'll say new. They're not brand new, but the Topo Ultra Fly. This is a shoe that fits that lower heel-to-toe drop category, but it's also stability shoes.

So if you have a bunion and you overpronate and you like that lower heel-to-toe drops, five-millimeter drop, at least at the time of this video, then that's an option for that more kind of like natural midfoot forefoot kind of striking pattern, which you can do in a traditional 12-millimeter shoe. I'm wearing a ten-millimeter now and I can still do that even with the Achilles issues in my low mileage.

But again, personal preference, if that's the style you want. So that kind of covers the gamut. There are more shoes to choose from, but I like these three as recommendations because we can go very traditional shoe with the Brooks Ghost and neutral. So it's going to cover a wide variety of people, you know, HOKA because HOKA does what HOKA does, the HOKA Clifton and then Topo's Ultra Fly. Ultra five -- four as this comes out because it's a newer maker, new kind of shoe, newer style it gives credence to there being room for new shoe styles for people that aren't currently served by the traditional band.

That being said, there are a couple other things you can do besides shoes, or just the perfect shoe to help alleviate some pressure or alleviate some pain when you're running. So I want to talk about those and kind of circle out our video with the last tips I have for getting a good fit with the shoe and the bunion when you want to go run.

And my last two tips are really modifications to the shoe. So in my opinion, you want to start with the shoe first, get that right, and then if you need to make modifications from there, do so. And those two modifications are lacing and arch supports. Arch supports can be controversial depending on who you're talking to. In this case, why we would be using them is to alleviate pressure from the area of the bunion, because we know if we have more pressure, more beading basically on that bunion that can cause it to grow and become worse over time, which can again result in it being more painful and harder to fit as you're running.

You're already putting a lot of pressure on it as you're running a lot of pounding and mileage. So you don't need to add to that. Whole idea and we always demonstrated this with our hands. You pretend that this is my foot, this is my arch. I've got a big bunion here, like a sticky out thing. Can't make my finger do that, but pretend there's a bunion there when you use an arch support.

Now, instead of pressure coming here, initial pressure is going to be coming in the middle of your foot instead of at the front. So without it, maybe you land, roll you need a lot of pressure here. It's pressure displacement. So you're still going to have the side forces of the shoe acting on your foot, acting on that bunion, and you're still going to have pressure as you roll through toe-off, you know, your foot comes forward whether you land here and come back and go forward or whether you land here and go forward, doesn't matter.

You're going to go through this rolling forward motion at some point so your foot comes through this rolling motions is exaggerated, obviously, and then you toe-off. You're always going to have that no matter whether you heel-toe, big foot strike, that roll-off happens. But with that arch support in the middle, then when you go through that, you lessen the pressure on the front end on those toes because you're pushing up in the middle.

The other thing, and I -- my personal bend is that sometimes lacing is a little hokey. Doing different lace changes, but this is a potential lace change. So this shoe in particular would be terrible for somebody with bunions, but it's good for demoing laces on. So that's why I've laced this one up and it's what I've got.

So this is where you're basically going to skip the loop where that bunion is. So this would be my right foot shoe. My big toe would be on this side. So I'm skipping that one. And again, we're just trying to alleviate a little bit of pressure over here in case the upper doesn't fit just right. Then when you snug up, you snug up the laces and tighten the laces up, then you're not going to have as much pulling on this particular area where your bunion is.

As a side note, this is not as popular now. This is very popular with Nike for a while. And this in this shoe. These are the shoes I wore for a long time, just kicking around shoes now. But this is a single-piece upper, so it's like a sock. There's no traditional tongue, in my opinion. For what that's worth, you're going to want a tongue, especially if you've got bunions, because you're going to have the ability for expansion in the toe box more easily than a one-piece upper, which is going to be snug.

The reason I like these for kicking around now, I ran in them for however many miles, 300 some odd miles before I retired them. I can just slip them on because they are like a sock. But that is a terrible situation for somebody who needs less pressure up front.

So there is my long-winded, long video on how to fit for bunions. If you've got any more questions about bunions in particular, leave them in the comments, or if you made it all the way through and you're like, "Jesse, you told me about bunions, but I really need to know about corns or calluses or arch supports or any other kind of shoes" or anything running related, leave them down in the comments. Subscribe. So you'll be around for that video when I make it to reply to your comment and I'll see you next time on the next episode of Runner's High.

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