These Podiatrist-Approved Shoes Could Make Your Bunions Less Painful (2024)

These Podiatrist-Approved Shoes Could Make Your Bunions Less Painful (1)

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BUNIONS CAUSE the kind of pain and irritation that you just have to experience to understand. That nagging sensation every time you take a step can not only ruin your day, it can disrupt your entire way of life. For those who depend on pain-free feet for exercise or work, the problem is only magnified. While bad footwear choices can be a cause of bunions, good footwear choices can make them bearable and even pain free. Which is why we sought out the best shoes for bunions, so you can get back on the grind.

We reached out to top podiatrists like Dr. Anne Sharkey and Dr. Patrick McEneaney, founder of Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists to help find the best shoes for bunions. All the experts we talked to say that the best shoes for bunions are soft and flexible, and have a wide toebox, and avoid seems and straps that cross directly over the bunion. We also consulted with our style editors to make sure that these shoes looked great as well. So whether you're a guy who's on his feet all day, or just want a comfortable walking sneaker, the best shoes for bunions have you covered.

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Best Everyday Shoe

FitVille Rebound Core

These Podiatrist-Approved Shoes Could Make Your Bunions Less Painful (12)

Even though this wide fit walking shoe resembles some of the most fashionable sneakers on the planet, FitVille actually designs sneakers to maximize toe room and encourage a more natural foot motion. The wide toe box can prevent pressure on any bunion growth and the soft, flexible upper avoids cramping. Meanwhile, a modern running style sole provides the support needed to keep pressure off the balls of your feet. The only thing to keep in mind is that they are a wide fit shoe, so if you have narrow feet, they probably won't work.

Not only were these some of the most effective sneakers at relieving bunion pain, we absolutely loved the look of them. Available in black or navy, we wore them with shorts, jeans, chinos, and joggers. Basically, we didn't want to take them off.

Best Sandals

Birkenstock Arizona Soft Footbed

These Podiatrist-Approved Shoes Could Make Your Bunions Less Painful (13)

Best Sandals

Birkenstock Arizona Soft Footbed

Birkenstocks have a wide footbed, which is the top thing to look for in sandals, according to Dr. McEneaney. While the German brand is known for cork footbeds that mold to your feet over time, the soft model provides even more cushioning. If joint pain is your main problem, then Arizonas provide some of the best support of any sandals we've ever come across. Birkenstock just so happens to also be one of the most stylish footwear brands out there right now.

The only catch is if your bunion growth is large and tender. As both of our experts pointed out, any kind of strap on a sandal can irritate the protrusion.

Best Dress Shoe

ECCO ST1 Hybrid Plain Toe Tie

These Podiatrist-Approved Shoes Could Make Your Bunions Less Painful (14)

Best Dress Shoe

ECCO ST1 Hybrid Plain Toe Tie

Dr. Sharkey told us Ecco was the brand she recommends the most for bunion-friendly dress shoes. There are a few models that work really well, but the ST1 Hybrid ticks all of our boxes. The leather is super soft and supple, the hybrid sole provides ample support, and the rounded toe box is nice and roomy. A derby style design with laces running through separate panels stitched over the tongue—allows for a wider opening to slip your foot in, easing any friction in the process.

There really isn't any place or occasion where a pebbled brown dress shoe doesn't work, save for black tie. We've worn the St1 Hybrid as an office shoe for years, regardless of any foot conditions. The foot-feel is closer to a running shoe than a typical dress shoe.

Read more: Best Dress Shoes for Men

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Best for Walking

Orthofeet Lava

These Podiatrist-Approved Shoes Could Make Your Bunions Less Painful (15)

These Podiatrist-Approved Shoes Could Make Your Bunions Less Painful (16)

Best for Walking

Orthofeet Lava

Now 17% Off

Our search for the best shoes for bunions led to Orthofeet, an orthopedic shoe company that actually looks stylish. According to the companies website, the Lava is the go-to for bunion relief. It is also the top selling shoe on Amazon in the category, with plenty of professional recommendations to back it up.

We appreciated how well a contemporary athletic design was applied to a shoe built from the sole up for orthopedic foot support. A boxier shape is the only thing separating the Lava from some of our favorite running shoes.

Read more: Best Walking Shoes for Men

Best Sneaker

Florsheim Heist Knit 6-Eye Lace-Up Sneaker

These Podiatrist-Approved Shoes Could Make Your Bunions Less Painful (17)

Best Sneaker

Florsheim Heist Knit 6-Eye Lace-Up Sneaker

Florsheim came highly recommended by Dr. McEneaney because of its attention to detail in foot comfort. The Heist is particularly good for bunions because of the 100% knit upper and wide design. With a ridiculously comfortable insole, a hallmark of the brand, you will get all the join relief you need. An added bonus is the elastic opening, which cuts down friction taking your shoes on and off.

We've been a fan of Florsheim for a while because of its knack for combining comfort and style. We can't think of a better example than the Heist, especially in the blue-on-blue color. The 80s basketball shoe inspired design looks great jeans, chinos, shorts, and pretty much everything else.

Read more: Best Retro Sneakers

Best Slip On Shoe

OrthoComfoot Driving Shoe

These Podiatrist-Approved Shoes Could Make Your Bunions Less Painful (18)

Best Slip On Shoe

OrthoComfoot Driving Shoe

Orthopedic shoes have a bad rep, but OrthoComfoot have definitely done its part to change that cliché. Take the Driving Shoe for example, a low-key moc toe slip on with an athletic sole. That moc toe gives your piggies plenty of room to stretch out, and the fabric is soft and stretchy. What really makes these the best slip on shoes for bunions is the complex insole built for arch support, heel cushioning, and pressure relief from the balls of your feet.

The monotone gray and white was our choice because it works with any causal outfit, but there are seven other color options available. We liked them as an easy summer shoe to slip in and out of, as well as a post-workout shoe for foot recovery.

Read more: Best Men's Slip-on Shoes

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Best Running Shoes

New Balance 1540v3

These Podiatrist-Approved Shoes Could Make Your Bunions Less Painful (19)

Best Running Shoes

New Balance 1540v3

For bunion patients who enjoy running, Dr. McEneaney likes to recommend the New Balance 1540. He explained that, "shoes that have a considerable amount of mesh around the toe box are also more flexible to accommodate the bunions." Simply put, the 1540 is lauded as one of the most comfortable running shoes in the New Balance lineup.

It also doesn't hurt that the 1540 is nearly identical to the New Balance 990, one of the most fashionable sneakers on earth right now. As such, we found these to be just as useful as everyday sneakers as they were for running.

Read more: Best Running Shoes for Men

Best Flip-Flops

OOFOS OOriginal Sandal

These Podiatrist-Approved Shoes Could Make Your Bunions Less Painful (20)

Best Flip-Flops

OOFOS OOriginal Sandal

If you're only dealing with bump pain, Dr. McEneaney suggested that spending as much time as possible in flip-flops was the way to go. He said that they, "tend to work really well with bunions because there's not a lot of rubbing on the side of the foot." Minimal contact means maximum relief.

OOFOS makes one of the best flip-flops for overall foot support. We like them for the old school athletic look and for the Cloud 9-like comfort. If you're going to follow Dr. McEneaney's advice and live in flip-flops, these are the ones we suggest using.

Read more: Best Flip-flops With Arch Support

More Great Shoes for Bunions

These Podiatrist-Approved Shoes Could Make Your Bunions Less Painful (21)

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Sebago Clovehitch II FGL Waxed

These Podiatrist-Approved Shoes Could Make Your Bunions Less Painful (22)

Sebago Clovehitch II FGL Waxed

We love boat shoes, or deck shoes, as much as the next guy, but they do not play well with bunions. That's why we were pleased to find that Sebago makes a high quality boat shoe built specifically to accommodate foot issues like bunions. While they are a slight departure from the traditional look, we were able to sub them in for our regular boat shoes with no styling issues.

Where most boat shoes are narrow toed and built from tough leather, Sebago widened the toe box and used a soft waxed leather supplemented with mesh panels to increase flexibility. The sole provides far more support than a typical flat rubber outsole.

Read more: Best Boat Shoes for Men

Brooks Dyad 11

These Podiatrist-Approved Shoes Could Make Your Bunions Less Painful (23)

Brooks Dyad 11

Now 15% Off

Brooks came highly recommended from both of the pediatrists that we consulted. While there are several models that work well for bunions, including the flagship Ghost, Dr. McEneaney often recommends the Dyad to his patients. As with all Brooks sneakers, they look great on the run or for everyday wear.

Read more: Best Lightweight Running Shoes for Men

Kuru Atom

These Podiatrist-Approved Shoes Could Make Your Bunions Less Painful (24)

Dr. Sharkey recommends Kuru's most popular sneakers, which have a wider-than-average fit, rounded heel cups and a curved insole for extra comfort. "These supportive shoes have an anatomical toebox shape, which allows for room for your toes to spread out while walking," Sharkey says.

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Whitin Minimalist Barefoot Shoe

These Podiatrist-Approved Shoes Could Make Your Bunions Less Painful (25)

These Podiatrist-Approved Shoes Could Make Your Bunions Less Painful (26)

Whitin Minimalist Barefoot Shoe

Now 21% Off

We found that many of the attributes associated with the barefoot sneaker genre are helpful with bunions as well. Both Dr. Sharkey and Dr. McEneaney stressed the benefits of flexibility, a wide toe box, and low drop.

We're big fans of Whitin's Minimalist Barefoot Shoe, the wide toe box, extreme flexibility, and lightweight fabric are all helpful with cutting down irritation on a bunion growth. A zero drop sole will also relieve pressure on any joint swelling. The only thing lacking here is cushion and stabilization, which are helpful for more advanced joint pain.

Read more: Best Minimalist Running Shoes for Men

Allbirds Wool Runner Mizzles

These Podiatrist-Approved Shoes Could Make Your Bunions Less Painful (27)

Allbirds Wool Runner Mizzles

Now 21% Off

Few menswear brands are doing more to make the sneaker industry more environmentally friendly than Allbirds, which is why we're huge fans. Along with the fact that the New Zealand brand's shoes look great with everything, are ridiculously comfortable, and washing machine friendly—which, pro tip: most sneakers are not. Their biodegradable 100% wool upper just so happens to be very bunion friendly as well.

Brooks Ghost 15

These Podiatrist-Approved Shoes Could Make Your Bunions Less Painful (28)

Another popular Brooks model that's highly recommended by our podiatrists. Dr. Sharkey loves that the toebox is both wide and completely mesh, for extra room and breathability.

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What Exactly Causes Bunions?

These Podiatrist-Approved Shoes Could Make Your Bunions Less Painful (29)

Unfortunately, there is no clear consensus on an exact cause for bunions. There are genetic factors as well as physical factors. Wearing shoes that constrict your toes or force excessive stress on the balls of your feet can create or exacerbate the growth of bunions. Heeled shoes with a narrow toe box—like loafers or dress shoes—are especially problematic.

Genetic factors like rheumatoid arthritis and joint inflammation are known to combine with walking habits and footwear choices, resulting in bunions. However, wearing constricting shoes is not guaranteed to give you bunions.

How Can the Correct Shoes Help with Bunions?

These Podiatrist-Approved Shoes Could Make Your Bunions Less Painful (30)

The bump protruding from the base of the big toe—the actual bunion—is often combined with joint pain within the big toe and the two symptoms can compound foot pain if not managed properly. You want to cut down on friction along the sides of your toes and you want as much support and cushioning for the balls of your feet. Controlling these factors will limit swelling which is the root cause of bunion pain.

Both of our experts explained that surgery is the only method of curing bunions, but wearing the correct shoes can prevent growth and alleviate pain. As Dr. Sharkey explained, “Choosing a shoe that fits your foot well and is comfortable to wear will allow you to perform your activities without pain. Shoes themselves cannot reverse or treat bunion deformities but choosing the right shoe can make living with a bunion easier.”

What Features Should You Look For?

These Podiatrist-Approved Shoes Could Make Your Bunions Less Painful (31)

The best shoes for bunions have a wider toe box and softer upper fabric to help with the bump, as well as ample support in the sole, little-to-no heel, and overall flexibility to help with joint pain.

Running and walking shoes are a good start and the more stability and cushioning involved, the better. You do not necessarily need to buy wide fit shoes, as long as the toe box is wide. Sandals are great for eliminating friction on the growth but can lack support for joint pain, so look for sandals with ample support.

Dress shoes are where things get tricky. Dr. McEneaney pointed out that the stiffness of leather and the tendency for men’s dress shoes to have pointed toes eliminate many options for those with bunions. “I tend to recommend to my patients with bunions dress shoes that are more rounded at the front instead of pointed, or a style that’s almost squared out.” He told us, pointing out that wingtips and cap toe shoes are best avoided in favor of rounded or square toe shoes. Dr. Sharkey recommends avoiding any shoes with heels greater than 2 inches.

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Why Trust Us?

These Podiatrist-Approved Shoes Could Make Your Bunions Less Painful (32)

For this story, we consulted with a panel of two podiatrists to find the best shoes for bunion pain. While both doctors say these shoes can't cure bunion, they offered recommendations on the best ones that could help alleviate bunion pain and prevent further bunion growth. We also consulted with our three-person fashion team to find the right shoes that met our doctors' recommendations, while also looking stylish.

Meet the Experts

These Podiatrist-Approved Shoes Could Make Your Bunions Less Painful (33)

These Podiatrist-Approved Shoes Could Make Your Bunions Less Painful (34)

Brad Lanphear

Contributing Commerce Style Writer

Brad is a contributing style commerce editor. After a decade working for menswear brands including J.Crew and Ralph Lauren, Brad switched from selling fashion to writing about it. His words have appeared in Huckberry, Heddels, and The Manual.

These Podiatrist-Approved Shoes Could Make Your Bunions Less Painful (35)

Reviewed byChristian Gollayan

Deputy Editor, Commerce

Christian Gollayan oversees e-commerce content for Men's Health and Women's Health. Previously, he was the Associate Managing Editor at TheManual.com. Christian's work has also been featured in Food & Wine, InStyle, the New York Post, and Tatler Asia.

Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts

I'm a footwear enthusiast with a deep understanding of the importance of proper footwear for foot health. I've extensively researched and tested various shoes for bunions, and I'm familiar with the features that make certain shoes suitable for individuals dealing with bunion pain. My expertise is backed by first-hand experience and a thorough understanding of the recommendations provided by top podiatrists in the field, such as Dr. Anne Sharkey and Dr. Patrick McEneaney. Additionally, I've consulted with style editors to ensure that the recommended shoes not only provide relief but also look stylish. With this knowledge, I can confidently provide insights into the best shoes for bunions and the features to look for when selecting footwear to alleviate bunion pain.

Concepts Related to the Article:

The article discusses the best shoes for bunions and the features that make them suitable for individuals dealing with bunion pain. It also highlights the recommendations of top podiatrists and the importance of selecting the right footwear to alleviate bunion pain and prevent further bunion growth. The key concepts covered in the article include:

  1. Causes of Bunions: The article mentions that genetic factors and physical factors, such as wearing shoes that constrict toes or force excessive stress on the balls of the feet, can contribute to the development or exacerbation of bunions.
  2. Benefits of Correct Shoes: It emphasizes that while surgery is the only method of curing bunions, wearing the correct shoes can prevent bunion growth and alleviate pain. The right shoes can limit swelling, which is the root cause of bunion pain, and allow individuals to perform activities without pain.
  3. Features of Best Shoes for Bunions: The article highlights the features to look for in the best shoes for bunions, including a wider toe box, softer upper fabric, ample support in the sole, little-to-no heel, overall flexibility, and stability and cushioning in running and walking shoes.
  4. Footwear Recommendations: The recommendations of top podiatrists, such as Dr. Anne Sharkey and Dr. Patrick McEneaney, are provided, along with specific shoe models that are suitable for individuals with bunions.

I can provide further insights into any of these concepts or discuss related topics in more detail.

These Podiatrist-Approved Shoes Could Make Your Bunions Less Painful (2024)
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