Bunions, or hallux valgus, is a problem that affects the entire sole of the foot and is most often associated with fallen transverse arches. At the same time, this deformity is accompanied by contracted muscles in the sole, shortened abductor hallucis, and blockages of the toe and minor foot joints. In the paragraphs below you will learn how to help your feet while persuading your big toe to return to its original position.
1) Relaxing the big toe
Sit on the floor or on a chair and lay your foot across your leg so that you can comfortably reach your toes. Grab the big toe with the thumb and pointer finger of one hand, approximately 1 cm below the nail. With the second hand immobilize the metatarsal phalangeal joint of the big toe from above and below. For the entire duration of the exercises, this hand should not move, just maintain the proper position.
You will only move the big toe from side to side (wobbling) or you will squeeze it by rotating the toe along its axis, one way and then back. You should spend 5 to 10 minutes relaxing the toe in this manner.
2) Relaxing the sole and toes
Use the same position to relax the sole of your foot. This is best done by grabbing the heel with one hand and the front of the foot beneath the toes with the other. Then stretch the sole by pulling up.
Relax the toes by grabbing each toe separately and gently pulling away while also bending slightly downward. During the process the toes may “crack”. These sounds are normal and often accompany relaxation of the entire foot.
You can also relax the sole of your foot and toes with aids like rubber rollers or massage balls with bumps. Just sit down, put your feet on the ground on the given aid and move your foot back and forth or massage with circular movements. You can relax the soles of your feet in this way for a few minutes before the exercises.
3) Pulling the big toe away from the other toes
This exercise is the most important if you want to tame your bunion and get your big toe back into its original alignment. Sit in a chair or on the floor and place your foot on a mat. Try to move your big toe on the ground away from the other toes, i.e., to the left for your right foot and vice versa. It is important for the big toe to remain on the ground while also not curling down into the mat. Ideally, also try to fan all of your toes out, not just your big toe.
If you are not able to move the big toe in this manner even a little, try moving it with your hand, then letting go and trying to hold it in this position for at least a short period of time. Before attempting this exercise, you may want to stimulate the necessary muscles by scratching the inner edge of the foot from the toe to heel or patting your toes slightly.
If you are able to comfortably manage this exercise, then you can try it while standing. Perform this exercise at least 5 minutes every day.
4) Activation of the transverse arch
This exercise is performed from the same position as the previous one. Try to keep your foot evenly weighted, not just from the outer edge, but ideally with your weight on 3 points – the joint of the big toe, the small toe and the heel. Then try to narrow the foot in the area of the transverse arch (below the toes), lightly lift the middle part of the foot while maintaining weight on the big toe joint and little toe.
Your toes should remain relaxed, do not try to involve them too much in the movement. There is also an important rule for this and the previous exercise, namely to maintain the proper alignment of the entire lower leg. This means not turning your knee inwards or outwards. The exercise will then have the greatest effect. You should perform this exercise daily, the more often the better. But at least once a day for approx. 5 minutes.
5) Stretching the big toe abductor
In cases of hallux valgus, the muscle that adducts the big toe is shortened. That is why it is necessary to stretch it. To do this there are various aids, along with the following exercise.
Sit on a chair, place the soles of your feet on the ground, and hook an elastic band around both big toes. Slowly pull your feet apart from each other so that the elastic band pulls your big toes away from the other toes. Do not resist this pressure, on the contrary, let your toes relax and hold them in a comfortable stretched position for at least 30 seconds. This stretch should be part of your daily exercises.
6) Actively push off when walking
When walking it is necessary to allow your big toe to perform its natural function, especially pushing off. Be fully aware of your feet and toes when walking and try to actively engage your big toe by pushing off with every step. This is best done barefoot, or when wearing soft and spacious shoes. Consciously train yourself to push off as often as possible, so that it gradually becomes automatic. Initially, it takes a lot of thought to concentrate your attention on your big toe.
7) Walking barefoot
Try to walk barefoot often on various surfaces in different terrains, and also try alternating the temperature of the surfaces you walk on. This will toughen and invigorate your feet, improve blood circulation, and provide the necessary stimulus to help address any problems you have with your feet.
8) Don’t scrunch
Exercises where you scrunch up your toes towards the heel are not very helpful for this problem. This only stresses the soft structures of the sole and risks tendonitis or plantar aponeurosis. To the contrary, it is necessary to stretch and relax the sole in the other direction.
It must be said that perseverance, patience and thoroughness are important for achieving good results. Your big toe will not move back on its own and just as it took more than one week for it to get off axis, do not expect these exercises to have immediate results. But the good news is that you can start exercising at any age and any stage of deformity. Severe deformities may not correct completely, but by exercising you will at least alleviate unpleasant feelings and pain.
It is good to know that while exercising is the most important part of treatment, that is not all you can do. Ideally, you will supplement active exercises with appropriate aids to relax the contracted muscles and soft tissues of the leg, blocked joints, promote blood supply to the foot and help the toes get back to their natural position. Foot Alignment socks can help with all of this. So why not combine function with pleasure? After your daily exercises, reward your feet by resting and relaxing in Foot Alignment socks.
One final reminder: prevention is the best treatment so deformations never occur in the first place. Walk barefoot in natural settings as much as possible and limit the wearing of shoes with high heels and narrow tips, where the toes have no chance of remaining in their proper position.