A bunion (also known as hallux valgus) is a deformity of the big toe where the 1st metatarsal phalangeal joint is misaligned. With this deformity, the muscles surrounding the big toe are at an imbalance. In particular, the muscle that pulls the big toe towards the lesser toes is at a mechanical advantage, pulling the big toe closer to the one beside it. This is muscle is called the Adductor Hallucis. To counteract this muscle, we have to strengthen the opposing muscle: the Abductor Hallucis.
The following exercises and stretches focus on the smaller muscles of the foot, which is essential in managing bunions and the pain associated with them.
Toe curls and spreads
Do this exercise sitting with your foot several inches off the floor. Curl the toes down as if you want to grab something with the toes. Hold that position for 10 seconds and release. Then bring your heel to the ground, lift your foot slightly and spread your toes as far apart as possible. Hold that position for 30 seconds. Do this 5 times on each foot.
Towel grip and pull
Place a towel on the ground and put your foot on top of the towel. Then use your toes to scrunch the towel towards you. Do this for 1-2 minutes on each foot.
Use your fingers to press your big toe down and hold that stretch for 30 seconds. Then position your toe in the opposite direction and use your fingers to help reach the end range of motion. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds. Do this 5 times on each foot.
Toe resistance exercises
Use your fingers or your other big toe to create resistance so that the small muscles within the foot are isolated and activated. Place your finger on top of the big toe and while applying a small amount of pressure downwards, move your toe in the opposite direction. Hold this for 10 seconds. Then bring your finger under the toe and apply a bit of pressure pushing the toe upwards. While doing this, push your toe downwards and hold for 10 seconds. Finally, bring your finger to the side of your big toe pushing it towards the second toe. While applying this pressure, move your big toe away from the lesser toes. Hold this for 10 seconds. Do this entire exercise 5 times on each foot.
Do this sitting on a chair. Bring your foot on the knee and use your hand to grip your big toe and run it through circular motions. This keeps the joint mobile.
At first, these exercises may seem unnatural and difficult to do, but with time and consistency, you will get the hang of it!
For more information on bunions, click here!
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