We've all heard of bunions. We may have heard of Hammer Toes too. But what exactly are they, why are they a problem, and why can wide-fitting shoes be life-changing for people with bunions & hammer toes?
So, just what are bunions and hammer toes?
Both bunions and hammer toes are deformities within toe joints. Bunions are a deformity of the big toe joint, which causes the joint to stick out, pushing the big toe inwards towards neighbouring toes. The classic symptom is a painful lump at the base of the big toe.
Hammer toes are deformities of the second, third or fourth toe that cause the toe to bend at the middle joint, making it look like a hammer. The toe may then lift over the toe next to it and moving the affected toe can be very difficult and painful.
Both conditions can be very painful for the sufferer not only in themselves, but especially because most footwear will further press on or rub against the afflicted area, in many cases aggravating the issue further, but at the very least, causing a lot of discomfort.
What causes bunions & hammer toes?
Bunions are thought to be caused by an inherited bone condition, but they can certainly be made worse by hypermobility, overpronation (a low arch or uneven weight bearing in the foot, making the toe joint unstable), or the wearing of narrow shoes. Foot injuries and certain types of arthritis can also contribute to the condition.
As the joint sticks out more though, the likelihood of footwear rubbing against the sore skin only increases, exacerbating the problem further.
And while most reports of bunions are from older people, they can affect the whole population, with even around 2% of children under 10 years old suffering from bunions!
Whilst non-painful bunions, or those that don't restrict movement too much may be tolerated, it is advisable to see your doctor or foot health professional if you have bunions. They may suggest some of the remedies below, or surgery to remove the bunion, depending on your situation.
Hammer toes are generally caused by an imbalance in the tendons, muscles or ligaments around the affected toe, although this can be caused by an injury to the toe, shoe styles like high heels or shoes that are too tight in the toe box that cause the toes to crowd together.
Initially, hammer toes are flexible and can be corrected with simple measures but, if left untreated, they can become rigid and may require surgery.
Bunion Fact: A bump at the base of the little toe is often called a "bunionette" or “tailor's bunion".
Bunion & Hammer Toe Prevention & Remedies
You can reduce the chances of getting bunions or hammer toes through correctly fitting footwear. Shoes with a wide toe-box will ensure plenty of room for toes without crowding, and a shoe with enough length will prevent toes being pushed inwards.
Avoiding high heeled shoes can also help to prevent excess pressure in the areas that could cause disturbances to the joints or imbalances around the muscles and tendons around the joints, that could in turn lead to bunions or hammer toes.
Making the switch to correctly fitting footwear is a must if you are trying to prevent worsening bunion or hammer toe symptoms. Wide and deep toe-boxes, ensuring plenty of room for toes without crowding them together is a great place to start.
There may also be some exercises you can do to treat mild hammer toe symptoms, such as picking up a marble with the toe as well as simply stretching the toe regularly throughout the day. (1)
Increasing arch support or using orthotics is another suggested way to alleviate symptoms by reducing pressure on and restoring balance to the tissues around the toe joints. (2)
Wide & Deep Fitting Shoes
Moving to a wider and deeper fitting shoe will provide the extra room your toes need and also offer increased space for the insertion of such insoles.
Our Variable width fitting shoes also allow you to change the depth of 1 or both shoes through the removal of specially designed insoles. So if you have only one affected foot, no problem! Simply adjust that shoe, leaving the other as is.
All of our shoes are wider and deeper than high street shoes. Our shoes range from width fitting E right up to 8E (EEEEEEEE), which we believe to be the widest & deepest fitting shoe available from a "regular" retailer.
The extra width and depth could be just what you need to provide that all important extra room.
We really do have shoes for bunions to see you through all occasions. Our range of wide fitting shoes for bunions includes head-turning fashion shoes for hitting the town, like Carrie or Belmont; there’s occasionwear, like Constance; shoes for the office, like Shearwater and Tetbury, boots for autumnal walks in the woods, like biker boot Reef or sporty boot Santa; everyday shoes like Rory, Carlisle, and many others, alongside a vast range of slippers and styles for men. There are even completely waterproof walking boots for rugged countryside walks like Nebraska. Who knew the choice was so wide for people with bunions and hammer toes?!
Read on for a more detailed look at some of the features of our shoes for bunions and hammer toes.
Our features specifically for Bunions and Hammer Toes
In addition to providing wide & deep fitting shoes, our styles also include features specifically designed to help people with various foot health issues, including bunions and hammer toes.
You might think that these specially designed features make for ugly shoes, but we think you'll be surprised! Read on for stylish shoes with in-built features!
Some additional features making our shoes suitable for people with bunions and hammer toes include:
Different Toe Shapes
When choosing your shoe, it is important to take your toe shape into account, as well as your size and fitting, to ensure ALL your toes have enough space. As we’ve seen, pressure on your toes can cause bunions, hammer toes and many more serious problems.
Most people have one of three common toe shapes:
Rounded - known as "Roman" – you should stick with a rounded toe box
Square - known as "Egyptian" – you should stick with a square toe box
Tapered - known as "Greek" – you could wear almond, round or square toe boxes comfortably, although if you suffer from bunions then these may not be suitable for you unless coupled with such features as stretch panels to reduce rubbing such as wide-fitting trainers Rail, Whitworth (pictured below) or Garforth.
We offer five toe shapes across our full range to cater for different toe shapes in different stylings, including our brand new “asymmetric toe”, so you can be sure of the comfort you require.
Seam Free Toe Boxes
Our shoes have smooth insides and most styles have no internal seams within the toe box, which is a huge consideration if you have a hammer toe or bunion. With these conditions it is also prudent to avoid styles that have external seams in the toe area too.
Our seam free toe-boxes will reduce rubbing and improve your comfort whilst walking.
Stretch Shoes & Boots
Our Stretch range of shoes and boots are designed to mould to the shape of your feet. By moulding to your foot, the fabric provides extra room for swollen feet, lumps & bumps and reduces rubbing.
Look out for Stretch panels in the shoe front and for seam free toe boxes too, especially if you suffer from hammer toes.
Even if you aren’t looking to stretch styles, quality soft leathers or canvas can provide enough give to reduce rubbing or forcing together of toes.
We provide stretch styles across our whole range so, whether it’s a training style shoe you’re after, a smart shoe for a special occasion or a boot to hit the town in, we’ve got you covered.
Men’s Shoes for Bunions and Hammer Toes
Of course it isn’t just ladies that suffer from bunions and hammer toes, and that’s why we ensure that we also make many men’s shoes for bunions.
Suffering from bunions or hammer toes?
Look no further than our range of ladies and men's wide and deep fitting shoes. If you need help understanding your shoe width requirement then learn about our width fittings and how to measure your feet with our handy measuring guide here
Disclaimer: This information is of a general nature and should not be taken as a diagnosis. All questions and concerns should be directed to your Doctor, Podiatrist or other health advisor.