Bunion Surgery for Runners | Runner's World

posted on 19 Mar 2014 10:10 by donnalifts

Bunion Surgery for Runners | Runner's World

I am 72 years old and have been a distance runner for 43 years. I"ve had bunions for the last 25 years. I"ve still been able to train and run races with no pain from the bunions. I am considering bunion surgery at some time in the near future. I think I would prefer to do one bunion at a time, and I realize there will be down time for each foot to heal properly. Currently, I cross train with weights and indoor stationary cycling. I would like to get your advice on surgery recovery and down time from running.



Dear Joe,

I always think back to what my buddy, Jim (sports med doc in Salt Lake City), says when we talk about surgery, "There is nothing a little surgery cannot make worse."

When it comes to bunions, I take those words of wisdom seriously. The key to your story, from my perspective, is "able to train and run races with no pain from the bunions." If you are 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% successful, so if you cannot 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 cross training for several weeks.

My wife has bad bunions and she has found great relief from minimalist shoes that accommodate the excessive foot width and allow her to walk-run with no discomfort. For hiking in the mountains, we went to Peter Limmer and Sons in New Hampshire to have boots custom made that would 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 with bunions.

I hope this helps.

Happy holidays to all.



Have a question for the Sports Doc? Email him at sportsdoc@rodale.com. NOTE: Due to the volume of mail, we regret that Dr. Roberts cannot answer every email.
Related Articlesthumbnail
Can I Get Faster Even Though I Have Asthma?Runners with asthma can still improve as long as they control their symptoms.thumbnail
Achilles Tendinopathy Treatment OptionsDifferent therapy options can get you back to the trails and running healthy.thumbnail
Cardiac Angina and RunningWhen it comes to heart conditions, get a diagnosis before running.thumbnail
What's Causing My Lower Leg Pain?Compartment and entrapment syndromes could be the culprit.