Bunions, or Hallux Valgus if you want the medical term, are a condition where the metatarsal bone of the foot and the first bone of the big toe, the proximal phalangeal, start to change angle so the big toe starts to point in towards the other toes. Long term it develops to become a very painful condition making it hard to walk and uncomfortable to wear many pairs of shoes. Eventually surgery is often required, an operation that requires a fair bit of pain (feet are very sensitive) and a long rehab stint. Not wanting to go down this path? Can we do anything to help prevent the condition worsening? Of course you can.
These are bones and as always there are muscles in the area that should be supporting the bones and helping to keep them in alignment. To stop the bunion, we need to really put a lot of work into these muscles.
The arch lifters – if the arch down the inside of the foot collapses then there is more chance of you rolling your foot as you walk, resulting in you pushing off more with the inside of the big toe. This pushes the big toe further in, increasing the bunion. Whenever you are standing try to keep the ball of the big toe and the heel on the ground but lift the arch of the foot. Hold at least 10 seconds and do this 10-20 times a day.
The Abductor Hallucis is a muscle that runs from the inside edge of the big toe up the inside arch of the foot – it helps to pull the big toe out. You really need to get this guy working. Sit or stand with your feet resting flat on the ground, slightly lift the inside arch of the foot as we did above. Then try to make the big toe slide away from the other toes, trying to move it outwards towards the other foot. Hold 10 seconds and do sets of 10 reps several times through the day. You can also do this with a rubber band around the toes and try and push the big toe outwards against the band.
Really getting in between the big and second toe and massaging out these tiny intrinsic muscles will also help to stretch these out. These muscles will have become tight as the toe position has changed, and will want to thus keep pulling, increasing the bunion.
These are only a few of the things you can do. At Physiologix, our physios all use ultrasound imaging. This helps you to see the muscles on a screen and learn how to get the muscle working using this amazing form of biofeedback. It ensures that when you do the exercise you get the right muscle working, first time. At Physiologix, e look forward to helping you beat your bunion, and keeping your feet looking great!