By Dr. Neal Blitz
Published: Apr 13th 2020 | Updated: Apr 13th 2020
Being quarantined at home during COVID likely means you are barefoot more often, which is good and bad for your feet. Not wearing shoes has the benefit of allowing your foot ‘stretch out’ and strengthen those internal muscles of the foot. Shoes also put undue pressure on prominent bones, such as bunions. Though people with bunions are generally feeling a sense of bunion pain relief being barefoot as they work from home. But without the support of shoes their foot problems may get worse.
Shoes provide stability to the foot, which helps maintain foot structure and alignment. Bunions are the result of maligned bones that slowly drift out of position over the course of many years. There is a genetic component to bunions and tight fitting shoes are known to make bunions worse. However providing support to your foot, through shoes, helps stabilize the foot bones and helps deter foot deformities from progressing.
While you may be enjoying this time being without shoes it’s important to implement a few strategies to keep your bunions at bay and keep your foot primed.
Use Toe Spacers And Splints
Toe spacers are a simple way to keep the big toe straight, and stop it from leaning against the 2nd toe. Some toe spacers can loop around the toe which will help it stay in place. Toe spacers are usually made of silicone or felt. Some have a loop around the toe to keep it in place. If you are unable to get a hold of toe spacers during quarantine – you may try cotton, felt or gauze.
A night splint is a bunion correction tool that is worn while you sleep and holds the big toe in a straight position, in the opposite direction of the other toes. Their purpose is to reverse stretch the ligaments of the big toe so they don’t become permanently stuck in a bunion position. There is not one best bunion treatment device but look for something that you actually use that is not too bulky.
Perform Foot Exercises
Doing home physical therapy on your feet keeps different muscles activated, which is important for your overall foot health. As a New York podiatrist, I recommend patients spend 10 minutes a day doing a simple foot strengthening program.
- 1. Ankle Rotations: While sitting or laying down do slow rotations of your ankle by moving it in all directions. Variations of this would be to curl and point your toes after a few rotations. When it comes to bunions the motion you want to accentuate is the outward rotation as it strengthens the muscle that helps prevent bunions.
- 2. Toe Alphabets: A variation of ankle rotations, here you would slowly trace letters of the alphabet with your toes being the pointer. This is great for working the smaller muscles within the foot itself.
- 3. Toe Pickups: A simple and fun foot exercise to do also working those smaller muscles in the foot. While sitting comfortably in a chair, simply place a lightweight dish towel on the floor and grab it with your toes and move it from one location to another. Alternatively, you can use marbles if you have them, which is much more difficult.
Don’t Forget To Wear Your Shoes
Don’t be barefoot all the time and wear your shoes or sneakers regularly. This will help keep the foot primed and used to having support. If you have or wear orthotics (made by a podiatrist), it’s even more important otherwise you may have to break them in all over again. Support shoes help properly align the bones of the foot to prevent imbalances.
Is Now A Good Time To Consider Bunion Surgery?
There is no perfect time when someone should schedule bunion surgery with a top Manhattan foot surgeon. Bunion surgery should be considered when pain persists and some of these simple treatments do not work. However, there are some benefits to having the surgery sooner as bunions are simpler to fix when they are smaller and people heal better when they are younger. Most importantly, the best time to have bunion surgery is when it’s best for you.
As daily life returns after quarantine, the pace will probably be at a slow pace as things open up. Some people feel this is an excellent time to recover from a minimally invasive bunion surgery as their personal demands will be less.
Hopefully the above remedies will keep the bunion at bay during this period of quarantine. If they dont then foot surgery may just be the next step.
If you are considering bunion surgery, trust your feet in the experienced board certified hands of Dr. Neal Blitz, Bunion King® and creator of The Bunionplasty® No Casts No Crutches® walking recovery bunion surgery procedure. Whether you are local to one of his offices in New York City or Beverly Hills, or traveling from around the country or overseas, you will find yourself amongst the thousands of patients who have had successful foot surgery and are now bunion and pain free.