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Exercise to Avoid Those Darn Bunions

Exercises that may prevent serious deformity

by Jan 7, 2016

Are you one of the millions of Americans who suffer the embarrassment of the deformity called bunions? They aren’t always painful and there are quite a few pro-actives that you can take to prevent them from getting to that point.

A bunion is a deformity caused by the enlargement of the bone at the base of the big toe. The extra bone growth causes the bone to misalign and force the toe to reposition itself and grow toward the other toes. The enlargement can become swollen and painful when aggravated by shoes. If caught in the early stages and treated properly, a bunion may never reach the point of extreme pain. Early treatment is the key. Change to shoes that accommodate the deformity and avoid irritating it. Sandals may be a good choice, but talk to us as I may have other suggestions.

Thankfully, there are a number of exercises that may prevent the outgrowth of bone to be minimized and prevent serious deformity.  This can be done by stretching, which will encourage correct positioning of the big toe. Certainly conservative, non-surgical strategies make more sense than action of last resort, surgery.

  • Simple toe stretches where you point toes straight for 5 seconds, then curl them under for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times.
  • Toe flexing involves pressing your toes against a wall to flex and stretch. Hold the position for 10 seconds and release. Repeat 3 or 4 times, then flex them in the opposite direction and repeat 3 or 4 times.
  • Big toe stretch includesusing a stout, large rubber band.  You place it around your big toes, then stretch the rubber band, hold for a count of 5 and release. Repeat 10 times.
  • Resistance exercise requires using a towel and wrapping it around your big toe and gently pulling toward you. At the same time push against the towel.
  • Toe curls require you to spread a towel down on the floor in front of you. Grip the towel with your toes and pull it toward you. Repeat 10 times.
  • Picking up objects involves placing 20 marbles on the floor.   You should then pick them up with your toes and place them in a bowl.

Bunions won’t go away, but maintaining flexibility and movement are key to preventing and minimizing pain.  However, if they aren’t painful, they really don’t require treatment. If you have a tough case and are in pain and at your wits end, call the Hillsboro office at (503) 648-1713, the Newberg office at (503) 538-0466 or the Beaverton office at (503) 292-9252. Get your foot pain treated now.

K.G. Gauntt, DPM


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Dr. Kim Gauntt
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