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Bunion Surgery for Runners

Q  I’ve had bunions for the last 25 years, but I’ve still been able to train and run races with no pain. If I have bunion surgery, how long can I expect recovery to take?

– JOE

 

A  Whenever anyone asks my advice on surgery, I always think back to what my buddy, Jim (a sports med doc), says, “There is nothing a little surgery cannot make worse.”

When it comes to bunions, I take those words of wisdom seriously. If you’re able to keep fit and do all your activities without pain, I would forgo surgery until the bunions are limiting your abilities. Bunion surgery is not 100 per cent successful. If you can’t run, a surgery to potentially give you the potential to run might be worth the risk. However, if you are able to run and the surgery fails, you are left worse off than you started. There is also post-operative down time following bunion surgery that may limit your training – even cross training – for several weeks.

My wife has bad bunions and she found great relief from minimalist shoes that accommodate her excessive foot width and allow her to walk-run with no discomfort. For hiking in the mountains, she had boots custom-made to accommodate her foot shape without the pressure points of stock boots and shoes. Wide shoes, deep seated shoes with a full contact orthotic, and sandals that spare the metatarsal heads are other alternatives that work for many people with bunions.

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