How to shop for comfortable shoes if you have bunions, according to podiatrists (2024)

For those of us who have never had a bunion, they're somewhat of a mystery. But anyone who lives with the frustrating foot condition — one in three Americans experiencing them at some point to be more precise, according to the Cleveland Clinic — can attest that they're no fun.

Bunions certainly make shoe shopping a bit more challenging, but finding your perfect fit doesn't have to be a dreadful experience. With our shoppable picks and some expert advice, your feet will be jumping for joy in no time.

What are bunions?

The word "bunions" gets tossed around a lot in the footwear world, but we honestly weren't quite sure what it meant until we caught up with two top podiatrists.

"A bunion is a prominence on the first joint on the base of your big toe on your foot," Dr. Asim Sayed, a podiatrist and foot/ankle surgeon from Overland Park, Kansas, explained. In other words, it's a sizable bump that forms when the metatarsal bone begins to shift outwards.

Bunions are often caused by genetics, but can be the result of several other factors including tight shoes, overpronation (caused by the way you walk) and ligament laxity of the foot. According to Sayed, those with flat feet are also more prone to developing bunions than folks with high arches.

Once you have a bunion, you're usually stuck with it — unless you want to undergo surgery.

"You can manage them to feel more comfortable, but the only way to eliminate or reverse them is surgical intervention," Sayed said, adding that untreated bunions can lead to arthritis pain.



ShopNeed more shoe support? Podiatrists share tips for finding the best insoles

What kind of foot issues do bunions create?

No two foot conditions are alike, and bunions have their own unique set of symptoms including pain in the joint or on the top of the big toe joint when you're walking. The bump itself can also feel pain, and calluses on the inside of your big toe or ingrown toenails on the inner edge of the nail can form.

"Shoes can feel uncomfortable because as bunions grow, the foot becomes wider and this can cause irritation on the toe joints," Sayed said. "Another thing that can be irritating, as the bunion progresses, the big toe starts to drift towards the second toe, which can cause rubbing between toes and in extreme cases cause the toes to cross over."

Can the wrong shoe make bunions worse?

When you're already dealing with foot care woes, improper footwear can sometimes exacerbate the problem. "The wrong shoe can most definitely increase symptomatology and possibly make the bunion worse," Sayed explained.

For instance, if you're wearing a narrow shoe that doesn't offer enough space, it can further irritate the bunion.

What kinds of shoes are best for bunions?

When shopping for shoes for bunions, the name of the game is space, so wide styles and stretchy materials are ideal.

"With any type of shoe, be mindful of the material and look for a shoe made of a forgiving upper (top part of the shoe) material," Sayed said.

If you're looking for a more particular style, here's a quick cheat sheet to help you find your sole-mate.

  • Best sandals for bunions: "Sandals work well as long as the strap isn’t located over the bunion area as that can cause unwanted irritation," Sayed said.
  • Best heels for bunions: "Look for a wider sole without any tight fitting straps around the toe area," Sayed said.
  • Best sneakers for bunions: "If overpronation or ligament laxity is the cause of the bunion, look for shoes with either a built-in arch support or add in one to the shoe," functional podiatrist and founder of Naboso Dr. Emily Splichal said.
  • Shoes to avoid for bunions: "Steer clear of leather boots because they won’t have much give and will put pressure on the bunion," Sayed said. In general, it's also best to avoid high heels and other narrow width shoes that can cause irritation.



ShopFrom slides to slingbacks, 15 sandals with tons of arch support

Sandals for bunions

Aetrex Jillian Sport Water-Friendly Sandal

Jillian Sport Water-Friendly Sandal$34.98$69.95

Made to support several foot conditions, including bunions and plantar fasciitis, these water-friendly sandals are great for trips to the beach and beyond. They feature lightweight cushioning, arch support and a contoured back that reduces foot pressure. Did we mention that they're also available in nine colors?!

Easy Spirit Moon EMOVE Slip On Sandals

"Flip-flops are an easy choice for a leisurely activity because the placement of the straps shouldn’t irritate the upper area of the foot," Sayed explained.

These lightweight sandals are made with Easy Spirit's EMOVE technology and cradle feet in comfort with their memory foam cushioning, arch support and shock absorption. They're available in three colors with snazzy rhinestones, making them a cute and comfy choice if you're looking to step up your flip-flop game.

Deckers x Lab Ko-Z Ba Da Da 25 Flip-Flop

Ko-Z Ba Da Da$40.00

Flip-flops aren't always the most supportive shoes, but these ones were made to keep your feet nice and steady while you're soaking up the sun. Complete with memory foam cushioning and an ergonomic midsole with arch support, the easy breezy style is ideal for running errands or leisurely strolling around on a beautiful summer day. Other notable features include comfortable hemp straps and a wide sponge rubber outsole.

Blowfish Malibu Goya Footbed Sandal

"Consider strap placement on sandals. To ensure no irritation of the bunion, you want soft fabrics and straps that are adjustable and do not cross directly over the bunion," Splichal said.

Equal parts sassy and sleek, these faux leather sandals have eye-catching braided straps, a durable outsole that offers nice traction and a comfort footbed with a soft lining.

Kuru Suomi Sandal

Suomi Sandals$120.00

Craving extra support? These flip-flops prove that you don't have to sacrifice fashion for function. In addition to providing awesome arch support, they also reduce foot pain and improve body alignment and posture.

"These sandals are wonderful: lightweight (for traveling); no more pain from bunions, plantar fasciitis and arthritis," one happy customer wrote.

Sneakers for bunions

New Balance 411 V1 Athletic Shoes

Comfy, flexible material? Check. Wide sizes? Double check. New Balance is checking off all the boxes with these cool kicks that are made of a leather and mesh upper. They make walking easy with their responsive cushioning and have a sturdy outsole to boot.

"They fit great and are super comfortable. I use them for walking every morning and they are holding up perfectly," one shopper wrote. Another left the following review: "I need a very comfortable wide shoe - hard to find in my size. These shoes are perfect!"

Hammacher Schlemmer The Woven Stretch Comfort Shoes

The Woven Stretch Comfort Shoes$69.95

If wide sizes and stretchy materials are high priorities for you, these shoes are a worthy contender. They're available in five colors (black, bronze, navy, pewter and white) and have stretchy woven uppers that can offer your feet relief if you're experiencing pain from bunions or other foot conditions. The slip-on style also has a memory foam footbed and a slip-resistant outsole.

Vionic Radiant Sneaker

Radiant Sneaker$109.95

"When shopping for shoes, always look for soft stretchable uppers or wider toe box shoes as this will relieve pressure on the pump," Splichal advised.

Vionic's Radiant Sneaker fits the bill perfectly with its soft mesh material, wide sizes and built-in cushioning. The shoe comes in three shades with colorblocking, including a marvelous mint, a bright gray and a sleek black.

"It is so lightweight but supportive and I can wear it comfortably for hours. My feet don't feel like they are suffocating like they have in other types of active sneakers," one reviewer shared.

Kizik Lima Sneaker

Sick of using a shoehorn to wiggle your way into your sneakers? You'll adore this hands-free design. The vast array of sizes (including wide options) and roomy toe box will also be music to your ears. Still not convinced? Other awesome features include ankle padding, foam outsoles and a breathable material.

Xero Shoes Speed Force Sneaker

Speed Force Sneaker$109.99

This sneaker's wide toe box offers feet plenty of space, and the shoe is just about as close to being barefoot as you can get while still feeling comfortable. The lightweight style has a flexible sole and a removable insole, and its non-elevated ("zero drop") heel also encourages good posture. Even cooler? They have a 5,000-mile sole warranty!

Hoka Clifton 8 Sneaker

Clifton 8 Sneaker$140.00

A breathable mesh material makes these Hoka sneakers ideal for workouts, and their cushioning comes in pretty handy, too. Oh, and they've also earned the Seal of Approval from the Podiatric Medical Association

One happy shopper left the following review: "My feet are in heaven with these, the mesh lets my bunion push out without pain and not only my feet but my knees and hips feel better after I wear them all day."

Drew Sprinter Sneaker

Available in medium, wide and extra wide sizes, these roomy sneakers have plenty of space to accommodate your bunions. Their slip-resistant sole, padded midsole and removable insole put a premium on comfort, and the mesh fabric helps keep your feet nice and cool.



ShopPodiatrists share why you might want recovery shoes for post-workouts — plus 7 to shop

Clogs for bunions

Easy Street Origin Comfort Slip-On Clog

"Clogs can be beneficial as long as they are supportive and give the forefoot enough room to function properly," Sayed explained.

This pair comes in wide and extra wide widths and has a sleek pebbled finish that can be dressed up or down with ease. The padded insole, flexible material and affordable price tag also add major points in our book.

Softwalk Amber Clogs

The subtle design on this cute clog immediately caught our eye, and the wide array of sizes (all the way up to 12!) also sounds pretty appealing. It's available in black and blue hues and has a 1.75" heel that makes walking a breeze. Other notable features include a memory foam midsole and faux suede foam insole that promote comfort.

Dansko XP 2.0 Watercolor Dots Patent

XP 2.0 Rainbow Flecks Patent$150.00

Available in wide lengths that provide more space for bunions, these clogs come from a brand that nurses swear by. The shoe comes with removable footbed with arch support, a slip-resistant outsole and a padded instep collar. Did we mention that it has a roomy toe box?!

Boots for bunions

LifeStride Aurora Ankle Boots

You don't have to swear off boots just because you have bunions. You simply need to be strategic about finding stretchy styles with more room! Take these ones, for instance. LifeStride made its Aurora Ankle Boots with stretch panels and a forgiving ruched material that won't restrict your tootsies. On top of that, they also feature memory foam cushioning and a stable sole that provides plenty of traction.

Orthofeet Milano Boots

Searching for a waterproof shoe that won't leave your bunions aching? Look no further! Orthofeet's Milano Boot is a supportive style that offers arch support with its removable orthotic insoles. The wide toe box, ample cushioning and padded fabric interior have certainly won over shoppers.

"The support is excellent. They do not rub my bunions or hammer toes," one customer shared in their review.

Apex Paige Boot

Women's Paige Boot$116.25$155.00

Basic black booties will never go out of style, especially ultra cozy ones like this style that's ideal for a range of foot conditions, including bunions. The moisture-wicking lining keeps feet cool and the roomy toe box gives them plenty of breathing room. As an added bonus, they have a slip-resistant outsole and comfy insoles.

Chrissy Callahan

Chrissy Callahan covers a range of topics for, including fashion, beauty, pop culture and food. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, watching bad reality TV and consuming copious amounts of cookiedough.

How to shop for comfortable shoes if you have bunions, according to podiatrists (2024)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Mr. See Jast

Last Updated:

Views: 6690

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (75 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Mr. See Jast

Birthday: 1999-07-30

Address: 8409 Megan Mountain, New Mathew, MT 44997-8193

Phone: +5023589614038

Job: Chief Executive

Hobby: Leather crafting, Flag Football, Candle making, Flying, Poi, Gunsmithing, Swimming

Introduction: My name is Mr. See Jast, I am a open, jolly, gorgeous, courageous, inexpensive, friendly, homely person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.