Bunions occur when the tissue at the base of your big toe becomes swollen, forming a large bump on the side of your foot. Bunions can cause intense foot pain and may eventually lead to arthritis. Fortunately, the majority of bunions can be managed without surgery.
Special foot exercises will not get rid of the bunion because the bunion is a biomechanical deformity, but they can relieve symptoms and increase flexibility.
The Benefits of Foot Exercises for Bunions
Non-surgical strategies, such as physical therapy exercises, can help to slow the progression of your bunion.
Foot exercises and toe stretches for bunions can help keep the joint between your big toe and the rest of your foot mobile, maintaining flexibility and strengthening the muscles that control your big toe.
Here are exercises that may benefit people with bunions:
Toe stretches. Stretching out your toes can help keep them limber and offset foot pain. To stretch your toes, point your toes straight ahead for 5 seconds and then curl them under for 5 seconds. Repeat these stretches 10 times. These exercises can be especially beneficial if you also have hammertoes, or chronically bent toes, in addition to a bunion.
Stretching your big toe. Using your fingers to gently pull your big toe over into proper alignment can be helpful as well, says Khan. Hold your toe in position for 10 seconds and repeat three to four times.
Ball roll. To massage the bottom of your foot, sit down, place a golf ball on the floor under your foot, and roll it around under your foot for two minutes. This can help relieve foot strain and cramping.
Towel curls. You can strengthen your toes by spreading out a small towel on the floor, curling your toes around it, and pulling it toward you. Repeat five times. Gripping objects with your toes like this can help keep your foot flexible.
Picking up marbles. Another gripping exercise you can perform to keep your foot flexible is picking up marbles with your toes. Do this by placing 20 marbles on the floor in front of you and use your foot to pick the marbles up one by one and place them in a bowl.
Walking along the beach. Whenever possible, spend time walking on sand. This can give you a gentle foot massage and also help strengthen your toes.