Believe it or not, fashion trends weren’t always set into motion by the Tik Tok generation. For centuries, fashion has been everything from a symbol for notoriety to an avenue for impressing your Friday night date. And, regardless of how uncomfortable a garment might be (thank you, corsets and stiletto heels), we’ll wear nearly anything if it looks fabulous.
But, archaeologists might have something important to say about the feet of our ancestors. When it comes to our skeletal health, it’s only natural to wonder, does footwear play a role in bunion, or hallux valgus, formation?
Fashion vs. Bunions
One of the most everlasting fads that we know and love are the pointy-toed shoes that have been popular for years and continue to rule the fashion industry today. The style dates back to the 13th century, gaining popularity in the late 14th and early 15th centuries.
Commonly known as “crakows” or “poulaines,” the pointy-look had Europe swooning throughout the medieval period. Although uncomfortable and impractical in most cases, people would wear them to sport their wealth or let the rest of the town in on their status levels. Essentially, the pointier and more outrageous the tip, the cooler you were.
However, modern-day researchers have recognized that a surge of bunions, a minor deformity caused by lateral deviation of the big toe joint, popped up around the same time at poulaines became a fashion trend. In affluent areas of Cambridge, England, paleopathologist Jenna Dittmar found skeletal evidence that wealthier clergy and citizens were more likely to have developed bunions during their lives.
Have Shoes Been the Bunion Culprit All Along?
Although the primary cause for bunions is unknown, the newfound evidence of bunions plaguing the Middle Ages has led podiatrists to gain some further insight into potential bunion causes. The study might not prove poulaines to be the culprit, but shoes might have more to do with developing hallux valgus than you’d think.
While some people—likely with genetic predispositions—might develop bunions even without wearing shoes, a narrow toe box like those that poulaines offered can easily cause toes to press into one another and, over time, form an unnatural big toe shape. In other words, the pressure that a narrow toe shape has on the foot can potentially open the door to developing bunions.
Preventing Bunions in the Modern World
Even with the evidence we’ve happened upon, modern-day footwear is not always designed for comfort. Your favorite Jimmy Choo stilettos might be the most stylish shoes in your closet, but they likely won’t do any good preventing bunions.
That said, if shoes might have an impact on whether we develop hallux valgus, we should be mindful of our chosen shoe styles. We’ve conjured up a few footwear tips for treating bunions or preventing them from forming in the future.
- Limit heel height and wear them sparingly
- Ensure your shoes are always the proper fit to allow room for your toes to fit comfortably without pressure
- Find shoes with good arch support and give your big toe joint a break
Opt for a Bootie
Sometimes, tossing out all of your shoes is not practical—even if it is necessary. Fortunately, Bunion Bootie provides options for treating bunions while you wear your favorite everyday shoes. The Bunion Bootie is a comfortable and easy-to-wear bunion splint that you can wear with or without shoes to provide bunion pain relief and prevent them from worsening over time. Stay fashionable and protect your feet with the Bunion Bootie.