Bunions and Hallux Valgus
Dr. Sam Dubé discusses bunions and hallux valgus
Learn about the symptoms, causes, and benefits of different treatment options.
Both bunions and hallux valgus develop from poor foot mechanics caused by wearing shoes that are too tight or too stiff in the toe area.
When the foot excessively pronates and when the arches collapse while walking or running, bunions and hallux valgus can also occur. The excessive pronation causes the toes to point outwards, and body-weight forces to be centralized at the inside of the ball of the foot during toe-off. With each step, the ball of the foot (or first metatarsal head) rubs against the shoe and a bunion forms over time. The bone enlarges and soft tissue thickens at the points of intermittent pressure.
Change in the size and shape of bones is accompanied by damaging soft tissue stress that leads to inflammation and pain.
Hallux valgus occurs when narrow shoes or shoes with pointy toe boxes force the toes to realign. Over time, the foot’s bony structure and soft tissue maladapt to the shape of the shoe’s toe box. Footwear with narrow, pointy, and stiff toe boxes further contribute to over-pronation.
Historically, over-pronation (collapsing arches) has been thought to be hereditary.
However, modern science has identified that the nervous system plays a critical role in stabilizing the feet and ankles when we walk or run. It is now understood that over-pronation is a symptom of inefficient neuromuscular function caused by conventional footwear use. Conventional footwear use causes poor neuromuscular function throughout the feet, legs, hips and back, when:
- the soles of the feet don’t receive the subtle, varied stimulus that the nervous system requires for healthy function, and
- snug toe boxes, stiff midsoles/outsoles/uppers, and tight lacing restrict healthy foot movement.
To learn more about the modern science, click HERE.
The best way to prevent and treat bunions and hallux valgus is to eliminate the excessive foot movement caused by the collapsing arches and to use footwear that is soft, flexible, and roomier in the forefoot.
Conventional treatment methods for bunions and hallux valgus
Since the late 1890s, the traditional treatment for over-pronation (collapsing arches) has been to artificially support the arches with an orthotic. Other conventional treatment options include:
Modern science has transitioned away from using long-term support on any body part because it causes a progressive weakening of the body part being supported.
The modern approach to treating bunions and hallux valgus
Science has shown that merely challenging the body to “do its job” is the best way to restore and enhance function.
The modern approach to address poor neuromuscular function is to employ a “Proper Technique” rehabilitative therapy to restore healthy function. This approach is extensively used pre- and post-surgery and is also the foundation of virtually all sports training/rehabilitation programs. By employing a therapeutic approach, the feet become stronger and more stable, thereby addressing the cause of the collapsing arches that contribute to bunion formation and hallux valgus. Proper Technique therapies employ exercise that focuses on safely training healthy neuromuscular function, i.e., optimal mobility, muscle strength, stability, and alignment.
Proper Technique therapies require both Right Stimulus and Right Movement.
Right Stimulus occurs when the information that the brain receives from the senses results in an efficient protective reflex function or Right Movement. The nerve endings in the soles of the feet play a critical role in providing the brain with the information required for optimal Right Movement throughout the feet, legs, hips, and back. When the brain receives insufficient or inaccurate information from the soles of the feet, the protective reflex function Right Movement will be ineffective or absent altogether. This is what happens when conventional footwear is worn. For more information on Right Stimulus and Right Movement, click HERE.
To therapeutically address the cause of oversupination and to prevent it from reoccurring, do the following:
- Walk barefoot on natural terrain as much as possible. This provides the optimal Right Stimulus and allows for the Right Movement required for healthy neuromuscular function.
- Use Biopods® Stimsoles® Footwear or Insoles. Biopods Footwear provides the ultimate Proper Technique shoe environment. Biopods Insoles improve the stimulus in your conventional footwear. Use in loosely laced, soft, flexible footwear with ample toe room that allows your arches and toes to rise easily for best results.
- Consult with your healthcare practitioner to ask about employing soft tissue mobilization therapies to address the fibrotic scar tissue that may have formed prior to using Biopods.
For more information on what to expect when using Biopods, click HERE.