March 2016 Bunions and Feet
A review of products for bunions. Separators, splints and protectors.
A bit of background about me and my bunions.
I'm a 38 year old woman who's suffered from bunions most of my life. They are hereditary, probably made worse from wearing heels for most of my 20s. However, I would say they have only really bothered me in the last 5-10 years and they are now quite large.
I don't generally experience too much pain, but that's because I wear usually wear trainers, Ugg boots or flat shoes which are a size too big so I can get my massive toe lumps into them! I know if shoes are going to hurt my feet pretty much as soon as put them on, so I don't buy them!
I am now making my own brand of shoes because I really want to wear fashionable shoes despite my feet, but that's another story!
Since giving birth to my second child last year I have noticed that on one foot in particular my bunion has grown quite a lot and in fact my big toe has started to twist around and rub uncomfortably on the toe next to it, almost overlapping. This does cause some discomfort, particularly by the end of the day or after exercising.
Being a busy mum of two, surgery is just not an option for me at the moment, so I have tried various 'remedies' on the market to try and prevent further movement of my toes and to stop them rubbing on the second toe when wearing shoes.
Here are my reviews on what I have tried so far.
Gel toe stretchers/Yoga toes
These are priced around £7 on Amazon - and there are various suppliers of pretty much the same product.
They are promoted to help relieve pain in your feet, toes and ball of foot and are apparently perfect for quickly alleviating pain after yoga and sports activities.
You pop your toes in the holes of the product and it really spreads your toes apart. Apparently also good for when you're painting your toe nails!
I usually wear these in the evening after the kids have gone to bed (as you can't really walk around in them) when I've got my feet up watching TV.
The toe separators alleviate and provide relief from the bunched up feeling and also help with the pain too.
I would say these are good for when you've been on your feet a lot of the day and your toes are feeling squished together and a bit painful.
I sometimes like to just look at my feet in them and imagine my toes are actually straight and there isn't a massive lump sticking out the side of my foot!
What I've found is that I can't actually get all my toes in to the little holes, so I have to bunch up my little toe and the one next to it in to one hole as it really hurts to wear them like I have in the photo for any length of time. This isn't too much of an issue for me, but if you had tailors bunions you might have a problem.
The effects do NOT last. So it's very much for short term relief and will certainly not make your bunions get any better, especially when they look like mine!
Although they won't make the bunions any smaller, I am hoping that using them will stop or slow down the progression of my bunions so will continue doing so.
As with the toe stretchers, Amazon has tons of these from various different suppliers. Various priced but I paid around £20 for mine.
These fix over your big toe and push it out away from your other toes. They can be used to alleviate discomfort, pain and also for post-bunion surgery to keep the toes aligned.
I use them most nights as you can't walk around in them. I've been using them for a month now as I feel I have to give anything a go to help my poor deformed toes!
They are surprisingly comfortable and don't bother me while I'm sleeping.
The space between my big toe and the second toe definitely feels more stretched out after wearing them.
It took me a little while to figure out how to put them on at first, but that could just be me!
These will not realign my poor bent toes, but they haven't got any worse so far. I will persevere and provide updates if I have any.
Gel toe separators (with and without bunion cover)
These are designed to be worn with shoes to stop the big toe pushing in to the one next to it. There are lots of variations on the same thing and are generally made out of a soft rubbery material and are fairly cheap to buy. Can be bought from chemists, supermarkets and online too.
Some are individual toe separators and some come with an additional bunion cushioning cover attached to them.
They do the job and keep my big toe away from my second toe! Stays in position quite well.
My favourite style are the ones which incorporate a little sleeve which you pop over your big toe.
Have to be worn with shoes with plenty of room in the toe area, especially if you wear the ones with the additional bit to cover your bunion, as they take up quite a lot of space in the shoe.
I find they can get a bit uncomfortable when walking with them as the underside of the separator can make it feel like you're walking on a lump in your shoe.
Also the style with the bunion cover has a habit of not fully covering my bunion (perhaps because mine are so big?!). Also becuase of the way they push my second toe on to the others it looks like it causes hammer toes in the other toes.
If they were designed so that the underneath side of them didn't stick out as far, or in a slightly different material to the bit that pushes your toes apart I'm sure that would be a huge improvement.
Foam toe separators
These are similar to the gel separators but are made out of foam. They are made by Scholl and retail at around £3.
They can be used in between any of the toes you have issues with and come in different sizes.
I really like the feel of the foam and prefer it to the gel versions of toe separators.
They were comfortable to wear - I believe this is because they squish down well when walking so it doesn't feel like you're walking with a lump in your shoe.
I found that the design of them meant that they didn't like to stay put and fell out of my toes very quickly.
I would prefer them if they were a little thicker too, they don't quite keep my big toe far enough away from the one next to it.
Gel guard bunion protector
These types of products promise to provide relief from bunion pain and pressure whilst wearing footwear. I didn't wear mine for very long for the reasons listed below.
Easy to put on. Gel part covers the bunion well.
These didn't stop my toes rubbing together so I didn't continue using them. My issue isn't that shoes rub my bunions, it's more that they squash or dig in to my bunions.
If you just need to protect your bunions because of blisters or rubbing in shoes, then perhaps these would be more suitable for you. Be aware the gel part of the cover isn't that thick so doesn't provide huge amounts of protection.
I hope that this review has been helpful for you.
If you have any comments on these products, or would like to suggest other products for me to try and review just add to the comments box below.
I have now launched my own brand of beautiful shoes for bunions, which are comfortable AND stylish, but most importantly, designed specifically for my bunions. I like to call them magic bunion shoes, as they actually manage to hide my lumps from the world. Have a look at a few examples below, and click either of the pictures to browse the range.