What you need to know about physiotherapy and podiatry.
Hallux valgus (bunion) is a common foot deformity, affecting 35% of women over the age of 65. It is a progressive deformity of the big toe which not only changes the appearance of the toe but also impairs the biomechanics of the foot.
Narrow footwear, flat feet and excessive pressures are common factors contributing to bunion formation. A lesser known factor that contributes significantly to bunion formation is weak muscles. The intrinsic muscles (small muscles) in the foot are usually neglected but they play a big part in supporting the feet. They help to stiffen the arch of the foot and prevent it from rolling inwards, putting less pressure on the big toe joint.
Keep your heel and forefoot on the ground, without curling your toes. Forcefully push the base of the toes, especially the big toe, into the ground, while pulling the forefoot back towards the heel. When done correctly, the toes are held suspended above the ground while the activation of muscles elevate the arch.
Lift and spread your toes while keeping your heel and the forefoot on the ground. While your toes are spread out, push your 1st and 5th toes down and out towards the floor.
Bend your knees slightly, stiffen your arch and raise your heel off the floor, putting pressure at the forefoot. You may lean against a wall for better balance.
Toh Lynn Li
Physio and Sole Clinic
Gooding et.al. (2016). Intrinsic Foot Muscle Activation During Specific Exercises: A T2 Time Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study. Journal of Athletic Training, 51(8):644-650.
Teyhen & Robertson (2016). Bunion: Strengthening Foot Muscles to Reduce Pain and Improve Mobility. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 46(7):606.