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My bunion is stopping me from running! Help!

A bunion, also known as hallux valgus, can sometimes be a painful deformity of the bones and the joint between the foot and big toe. It is an enlargement of bone or tissue around the base of the big toe.

Under repetitive pressure, the joint between the foot and the big toe (first metatarsal joint) can move out of place, swell and turn inward, resulting in a painful and stiff bony protrusion on the side of the foot.

Overpronators tend to excessively roll their feet inwards, and this can actually have an effect on the development of bunions. This is because with too much rolling in of their feet, overpronators can put excessive stress on the metatarsal joint during push-off phase of running.

For Asians, we tend to have a wider forefoot. Wearing shoes with narrow toebox can sometimes cause or worsen bunions. Hence, it is important to have a good fitting shoe with a roomy toebox.

Besides wearing proper shoes, the pain and stress on the bunion can be reduced by taping the foot in a normal position before a run. A toe-separator can also be placed between your big and second toe with a padding taped to the big toe.

Modifying your running style can also help reduce the stress on your big toe. When you run, avoid going up on your toes, which puts pressure on the big toe. Instead, try to land with your midfoot down with every step.

However, the above measures are mainly to address the symptoms than to correct the actual deformity. If the discomfort is severe enough, or the correction of deformity is desired, a surgery may be performed.

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