Bunion myths. There are a boat load of them out there, and today I’d like to dispel one in particular.

The Myth: Bunions are caused by wearing pointy shoes.

The Truth: as one of my mentors used to say, all you did was select the wrong Mom and Dad. This is a cute way of saying it’s not your fault. Not entirely. Bunion formation is largely genetic: most of you who have them also have a parent or grandparent with bunions. You can inherit lots of things from your family: your nose, your curly hair, broad shoulders, a big booty, and also your foot structure. Most people understand that flat feet can be inherited, but for some reason most women attribute their bunions to something they themselves did wrong.

In actual fact, there are specific types of feet that are prone to bunion formation. Feet that are more flexible at certain key points in your arch, feet that have particularly long or short bones that support your big toe, or larger muscles that tug in the direction of a bunion can all contribute to the problem. Over time, all of these small details passed down in your DNA will form a bunion.

Now that’s not to say there’s nothing that can be done. If you know your parents or grandparents had bunions, start early and be aggressive. You may not be able to stop your bunions from forming entirely, but you can slow the process down and also decrease the discomfort often associated with this problem. Tight shoes or pointy shoes are going to rub on the bump and cause more pain. Heels will put more of your weight on the bunion joint, which is irritating to those structures and will make them ache. Custom orthotics and good, supportive shoes are very important as well: if you hold your heel and arch in an optimal position, they can stabilize the front part of your foot and give you more good years before the bunion becomes a problem.

So, if you have a family member with bunions and you don’t, start the preventative measures now. If you’ve already got one, see your podiatrist for surgical and non-surgical options.

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