Bunions (or Hallux Valgus) occurs when your big toe creates and angle greater than 15 degrees in the direction of your first metatarsal. There are two primary factors that contribute to bunions:
- Poorly fitting shoes. The entirety of Western society wears a style that resembles the ancient practice of foot-binding.
- Physical activity in poorly fitting shoes. The more active time spent in shoes that bind feet and misguide toes, the more misshapen feet will become.
There are many studies out there telling you not to blame your shoes, blame genetics! These studies fail to include these important variables such as cultural style, exercise habits, and the rearing practices of test subjects (elements that also get passed down for generations). In other words, some families or cultures might favor a more constricting shoe shape than others. Some families pay little attention to how their children’s feet are growing (and a shoe that is too small for a child’s foot has the potential to deform their feet). Some families don’t have the money to buy new shoes for their children, and those children may be forced to wear smaller shoes for longer than they should. These variables can be passed down for generations while actual genetic components have little or nothing to do with deformity. The research studies primarily include people from cultures that wear shoes from the moment they can walk (and unfortunately, the style of those shoes prevent healthy moment and growth of children’s feet). That means there are no healthy-footed subjects, nobody to compare with unhealthy feet. They’re all unhealthy. Nobody within these cultures knows what a healthy foot is supposed to look like (that includes almost every researcher within Western society).
You can barely find a single shoe that will fit a healthy foot in any department store. You may think you have a “wide toed shoe”, but in reality, your shoe is only wide enough for the ball of your foot, then tapers all your toes together in a stylish point at the tip (see dashed orange line in figure 1). That shape will eventually malalign your toes and cause pain, and/or long-term damage (such as a bunion or bunionette).
You can take responsibility for the health of your feet, and you shouldn’t need to spend a lot of money to do so. There are links listed on this site to shoes that are inexpensive, practical, and stylish.