When the base of your big toe becomes swollen and results in a large bump, you may have a bunion. Over time, bunions can lead to arthritis and often result in intense foot pain. The good news is that, to give your bunion the boot, you don't always need to have surgery. You can practice special foot exercises that will increase the flexibility in the area and alleviate some of the symptoms.
Foot Exercises to Relieve Bunion Pain
It's always best to try exercises before surgery, as conservative treatment can result in as good an outcome with fewer complications. Exercises that are normally recommended to slow the progression of bunions and help the healing process involve stretches that allow for flexibility and strengthening of your big toe. Some exercises to try include:
The more limber your feet are, the better they can stave off the pain. For toe curls, start by pointing your toes straight and holding the position for five seconds. Next, curl your toes under and hold this position for five more seconds. You can do these in sets of ten. Bonus: this stretch can also help with chronically bent toes.
You can help strengthen the muscles in your toes by contracting them against a hard surface. Start by pressing your toes against the wall and flexing them. Hold for at least ten seconds, then release. Repeat at least ten times. Next, get into a sitting position and flex your toes upward, holding the position for ten seconds and repeating five or six times.
Big Toe Circles
Since your big toe can be the source of many foot problems, you should make sure to stretch it individually. Sit in a comfortable position where you can reach your toe. Grip your big toe and circle clockwise 20 times, rest, then circle your toe counter clockwise 20 times. Repeat two to three times per foot.
Big Toe Resistance
Performing resistance exercises on your big toe alone can also produce additional flexibility and strength. Use a belt or thin towel that can comfortably wrap around your big toe. Use the belt or towel to pull your big toes upward and toward your body while applying resistance downward with the big toe.
Ball Foot Roll
You can relieve the pain of bunions such as cramping and foot strain by rolling a small ball underneath your feet. A golf ball is ideal and can provide additional texture. Perform this for at least two minutes for each foot.
Exercises that require you to grip with your toes can strengthen the muscles and stretch them. You can work on this by placing a pencil on the floor and picking it up with your toes. Repeat 15 to 20 times. You can also walk on sand barefoot as it will require you to grip with your toes to push off.
To get the best results, it is advisable to perform bunion exercises every day. To make sure you fit it in, pick a time every day, such as when you are watching television. Then perform the exercises daily, so they become part of your regular routine.