Running: Bunion

By Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC

Las Vegas Informer

Bunions are usually not acquired through running but they are a condition that limits running performance and shortens running longevity. Prevent the formation and worsening of a bunion with foot treatment, foot exercises and proper footwear.

Anatomy: The big toe is referred to as the great toe. In medical terminology the great toe is named the Hallux. Each hallux contains two bones named the phalanges, the proximal phalange and the distal phalange.

The metatarsal bones connect the midfoot to the toes. The head of the metatarsal bones form a joint with the proximal phalanges. These joints are named the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joints. The joints are numbered from one to five starting with the great toe counting outward. The 1st MTP is located at the great toe.

Medical Definitions:

Proximal: Closer to the trunk of the body.

Distal: Further from the trunk of the body.

Examples: The nail on the great toe is distal to metatarsal bones. The 1st metatarsal joint is proximal to the nail of the great toe.

Medial: Closer to the center of the body.

Lateral: Further from the center of the body.

Examples: The great toe is medial to the little toe. The little toe is lateral to the great toe.

Location: The site of a bunion is the medial side of the 1st metatarsal bone just proximal to the 1st MTP joint. 

What is a Bunion: A bunion is extra bone growth in response to increased direct pressure. The bunion grows progressively larger as the pressure continues.

Symptoms: Pain, swelling and tenderness may be present in and around the bunion site.

Mechanism of Injury: The great toe deviates toward the other toes. The deviation leaves the medial side of the distal aspect of the 1st metatarsal bone exposed to increased direct pressure from tight shoes. The exact cause of the deviation may be from tight shoes or from muscle tightness. Most likely a combination of the two is the source.

Tight shoes compress the toes together. Constant pressure pushes the entire great toe toward the other toes. Over years of increased pressure the deviation progressively worsens.

A two-headed muscle named the adductor hallucis contracts to pull the great toe toward the other toes. Over tightness of the adductor hallucis muscle results in deviation of the great toe toward the other toes.

The combination of tight shoes and over tightness of the adductor hallucis results in a permanent lateral deviation of the great toe.

Due to this deviation the medial side of the distal aspect of the 1st metatarsal bone is exposed to increased direct pressure from tight footwear. This direct pressure results in extra bone growth which gets progressively larger as the pressure continues.

The bunion is named Hallux Abducto Valgus in medical terminology.

Prevention and Self-Treatment: Wear proper fitting footwear. Avoid shoes that compress the toes, especially high heels.

Bunions are more common in females for the reason that women wear high heels. High heel shoes are smaller closer to the toes. The raised heel forces the foot to slide further forward in the already too tight toe compartment thus increasing the toe compression. Avoidance of high heels is a must for anyone with a bunion.

Massage the top surface of the foot especially the two headed adductor hallucis muscle.

Perform passive mobilization of the toes especially the great toe. Use your hands to gently move the great toe medially to prevent lateral deviation or increased deviation.

Strengthen the entire foot. Perform toe curling and toe splaying exercises through a pain-free range of motion to improve strength and range of motion. Focus on keeping the great toe from deviating laterally during each movement.

Utilize custom fit orthotics and toe spacers. Custom fit orthotics provide the exact support each individual needs. Toe spacers keep the toes slightly separated and lessen the lateral deviation of the great toe, This position helps lessen the direct pressure on the medial side of the distal aspect of the 1st metatarsal bone.

Chiropractic Treatment: Chiropractic foot care increases foot function and health. Chiropractic treatment will not reduce the size of a bunion but it may lessen the progression of great toe deviation. Chiropractic adjustments to the foot and lower leg improve joint motion resulting in a better functioning foot.

Conclusion: The feet are the body’s dynamic foundation. Healthy feet are a strong base for standing, walking, running and jumping. Maintain foot health to perform at optimal levels and continue running well into your senior years.

Prevention and early treatment are imperative in bunion care. Start self-management and Chiropractic care as soon as symptoms or a slight deviation are noticeable. Wear proper fitting shoes that do not compress the toes, Massage, stretch and strengthen your feet. Receive Chiropractic care to re-establish proper joint motion and optimize nervous system communication between the spinal cord and the feet.

Incorporate these strategies to prevent the formation and/or progression of bunions. Utilize these techniques to have healthy feet and a well-functioning dynamic foundation.

Dr_Donald_A_Ozello_thumb_medium150_Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC

Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC is the owner and treating doctor at Championship Chiropractic. 8871 W. Flamingo Rd, Suite #202, Las Vegas, NV 89147.  His web address is He can be contacted at (702) 286-9040 and

Dr. Donald A. Ozello’s mission is to educate and inspire others to live healthier, fitter, more functional lives.

Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC is the author of the book “Running: Maximize Performance & Minimize Injuries: A Chiropractor’s Guide to Minimizing the Potential for Running Injuries.” He writes a weekly health, fitness and nutrition column for The Las Vegas Informer. He is published in OnFitness and He has educational health, fitness and nutritional videos on Informer TV, and YouTube.

Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC proudly handles Standard Process Supplements and Foot Levelers Orthotics.

Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC is an award-winning public speaker. He has spoken to numerous groups on the importance of health, fitness, exercise, ergonomics, nutrition and injury prevention.

Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC is a fitness enthusiast. Functional kettlebell training, running and bike riding are his favorite types of exercise.

Before pursuing his career in Chiropractic, Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC served in the United States Navy aboard the USS Bremerton, SSN 698.

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