Published on August 2nd, 2017 | by Beth Bengtson3
Comfortable Pumps for Bunions (Plus 6 More Bonus Picks)
If you have bunions and work in a business setting, chances are you’ve tried finding comfortable pumps for bunions. I probably don’t have to tell you that finding shoes for bunions can be a challenge! As always, the Barking Dog is here for you with a great pair of comfortable pumps for bunions, plus a fresh roundup of other bunion-friendly shoes to help alleviate possibly debilitating bunion pain. Note: each shoe pictured throughout the post is described in more detail at the end. But as with most things, education is key – so let’s back up a bit and talk about bunions before we get to the shoes.
A bunion (also known as hallux valgus) looks like a bump on the side of the big toe. But a bunion is more than that; the visible bump actually reflects changes in the bony framework of the front part of the foot. The big toe leans toward the second toe, rather than pointing straight ahead. This throws the bones out of alignment, producing the bunion’s bump.
Bunions are a progressive disorder. They begin with a leaning of the big toe, gradually changing the angle of the bones over the years and slowly producing the characteristic bump, which becomes increasingly prominent.
Many people think bunions are caused by wearing the wrong shoes, when in fact, bunions are most often caused by an inherited faulty mechanical structure of the foot. It is not the bunion itself that is inherited but certain foot types that make a person prone to developing a bunion. Sometimes bunions can also be caused by having an inflammatory condition such as rheumatoid arthritis, or a neuromuscular condition like polio.
HOWEVER, no matter what the cause, wearing shoes that crowd the toes can make the deformity get worse, and symptoms may therefore appear sooner. Since symptoms like pain, inflammation, redness, and burning occur most often when wearing shoes with a tight toe box or high heels, women are more likely to have symptoms than men.
While some folks with bunions may eventually need surgery, there are many non-surgical options for relieving the pain of bunions (and possibly slow their progression.) We at the Barking Dog have had great results from regularly using Yoga Toes or Yoga Toes Gems to realign the toes (bonus: they feel great!) We also use Dr. Frederick’s Bunion Pads & Spacers, which make activities like walking and running much more comfortable. Some folks swear by bunion correctors like the Bunion Bootie. A custom insole or orthotic can also provide relief; talk to your podiatrist to learn more.
But the first thing any doctor or foot care professional will tell you about alleviating bunion pain is to wear the right kind of shoes, and make sure they fit correctly. In general, go for shoes with wide insteps, broad toes, and soft soles. Avoid shoes that are too short, tight, or sharply pointed, and those with heels higher than a couple of inches. Higher-heeled shoes put more pressure on the forefoot and increase the likelihood of foot problems or injury. (We admit, these requirements make finding comfortable pumps for bunions even more challenging. But it’s possible…read on!)
If new shoes aren’t in the cards for you (or you have old favorites you can’t part with), a quick-fix is to try stretching your current shoes across the bunion area. You can purchase a shoe stretcher for this purpose, or try our favorite hack of putting a ziplock back of water in the forefoot of your shoe, then putting the shoe in the freezer. The water expands as it freezes, thus stretching the shoe. (This technique may sound a little crazy, but we have readers who’ve tried it and say it really works!)
If you’re shopping for shoes, the following tips will help you choose a shoe that fits correctly:
- Do not select shoes by the size marked inside the shoe. Sizes vary among shoe brands and styles. Judge the shoe by how it fits on your foot.
- Select a shoe that conforms as nearly as possible to the shape of your foot.
- Have your feet measured regularly. The size of your feet changes as you grow older.
- Have both feet measured. Most people have one foot larger than the other. Fit to the largest foot.
- Fit at the end of the day when your feet are the largest.
- Stand during the fitting process and check that there is adequate space (3/8″ to 1/2″) for your longest toe at the end of the shoe.
- Make sure the ball of your foot fits well into the widest part (ball pocket) of the shoe.
- Do not purchase shoes that feel too tight, expecting them to “stretch” to fit.
- Your heel should fit comfortably in the shoe with a minimum amount of slippage.
- Walk in the shoe to make sure it fits and feels right. Fashionable shoes can be comfortable.
These tips come from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons; here’s a link to their website with more helpful information on bunions.
Whenever we do a bunion post we get the question “Why so many mary janes?” The short answer is that bunions and hammertoes are aggravated when you have to “scrunch” your toes to grip a shoe while walking, as happens with backless sandals, most flats, and anything without a high vamp or strap to keep the shoe secured on the foot. Shoes with straps, like a mary jane or an ankle strap, can make a big difference comfort-wise when you have bunions. But we do our best to find something for everyone, so we always try to include a few non-strap shoes!
Now to the shoes! Each shoe described below is pictured somewhere in this post – just match the name on the photo to the description below.
Aravon Patsy: With regard to comfortable pumps for bunions, one of the most promising picks we’ve run across recently is the Aravon Patsy, a low-heeled pump which gets great reviews all around, including from women with bunions. It has a removable footbed if you wear an orthotic, plenty of room in the toe box, and stretch goring panels for a secure fit. The Aravon Patsy also comes in FOUR widths, from narrow to extra wide, available at Zappos, 6pm.com, and Amazon.
Arcopedico Shawna: “They are so comfortable to wear, like bedroom slippers, only they have the support that I need,” says one reviewer. The buttery-soft leather, 1″ heel, and lightweight, supportive sole of the Arcopedico Shawna makes this a perfect shoe for bunions and a host of other foot and leg issues. Many reviewers also love this shoe for travel because it’s versatile, comfortable for walking, and easy to slip on and off. The Arcopedico Shawna comes in basic black plus 3 vibrant & versatile colors (even bunion sufferers should be able to have fun shoes)! Available at Zappos, Amazon, and Shoes.com.
Born Julianne: Most ballet flats don’t work well for problem feet, but the Born Julianne is one to try if your fashion sense or lifestyle demands flats. It has a cushioned footbed, moderate arch support and soft leather to comfortably cover and accommodate bunions. Available in lots of great colors from Zappos, Amazon, and 6pm.com.
Alegria Belle: “I nearly cried when I slipped on these shoes and felt sheer heaven,” says one reviewer with multiple foot issues, including bunions. We probably don’t need to say much more than that, but will let you know the Alegria Belle has a footbed made of cork, memory foam and leather-covered latex which, while supportive, forms to the natural contours of the foot. This may be all even problem feet need, but it’s removable should you need an orthotic. The Alegria Belle outsole is engineered to reduce heel and central metatarsal (forefoot) pressure – a big difference-maker for bunion sufferers. Available in practical solids and fun patterns at Zappos, Amazon, and Nordstrom.
SAS Funk: San Antonio Shoemakers, or SAS, knows comfort! Many people associate this brand with grandma’s walking shoes, but they’re coming out with increasingly fashionable options, like the SAS Funk. This lightweight, flexible skimmer comes in 4 widths and features the SAS Tripad® Comfort System, which cushions three pressure points of the foot. The footbed is removable, and the bungee-and-toggle vamp makes it easy to keep the shoe securely on your foot. So if you need to order a wider shoe to accommodate your bunions, you can cinch in the cord above the bunion for a customized, no-slip fit. The SAS Funk comes in soft, versatile leathers (including two subtle metallics) or a fun striped fabric and is available at Zappos.
Aetrex Berries Helen Mary Jane: With a 4-way stretch upper, the Aetrex Berries Helen Mary Jane will accommodate just about any lumps or bumps your foot can present! The supportive, memory foam insole adds extra comfort, and they’re available in medium and wide widths (including the needle-in-a-haystack 10.5 wide)! Available at Aetrex.com and The Walking Company.
Walking Cradles Hayden: With a perfect heel height, roomy toe box, multiple-width sizing and loads of comfort features, the Walking Cradles Hayden is a versatile, bunion-friendly favorite for everything from a business-casual workday to a Saturday picnic. Find them at Zappos.
Since we specialize in shoes for problem feet, it’s no surprise that we’ve reviewed many comfortable pumps for bunions over the years. Here’s a post that features another pair of comfortable pumps for bunions with a higher heel. See our full archive of reviews and recommendations of bunion-friendly shoes here and check out some of our top picks from well-known comfort brands (many of which are great for bunions) here.
Have you had any luck finding comfortable pumps for bunions? They can be very hard to come by – so if you’ve had success, please share!