Bunions and running don’t always go together – unless you find the right shoes. The wrong shoes cause pain during and after your run at best. At worst, ill-fitting shoes cause other foot problems and stop you from running at all.
If you want to find shoes that forgive your toes even after the miles rack up, then you’ll need a pair with a good size toe box or a loose upper around the toe area. Running shoes do this two ways: some have a very wide toe box while others have soft mesh that stretches at spots that rub against bunions. Either way, the idea is to prevent pressure and rubbing on the areas of the feet with bunions.
The shoes we’ve selected fit these criteria. Here are seven of the best running shoes for runners with bunions.
Top 3 Best and Favorites
Top Asics Running Shoe for Bunions
1. Asics GT-2000 8
The Asics GT-2000 8 is a stability shoe designed for daily running. It’s a cult shoe for anyone who needs a supportive ride but doesn’t want to sacrifice on the cushion in the shoe.
More importantly, it remains the podiatrists’ go-to shoe for anyone with toe problems from bunions to hammer toe.
The GT-2000 features stretchy mesh on the spots where bunions form. These are called Bunion Window and help ease the pressure that usually comes from regular running shoes.
Like many Asics shoes, it also includes arch support that is second to none as well as forefoot and rearfoot gel for cushioning.
This shoe includes FluidRide cushioning in the midsole. This improves the bounce of the shoe while also making it lighter than prior versions.
- Lots of support for overrpronators and runners with flat feet
- Gel cushioning for a soft ride
- Smooth transition from toe-to-heel
- Snug in the heel for a locked-in feeling
- May be too stiff for runners with medium to high arches
- Not ideal for wide feet
- Not extra-large toe box
Widest Toe Box Running Shoe
2. Altra Torin 4 Plush
The Altra Torin shoe is designed for great cushioning and comfort. Plus it has an extremely wide toe box – a must for anyone with bunions.
The latest Altra Torin 4 comes in two versions: a plush version and a slimmer version for racing. For this review and runners with bunions, we think the plush version is the better option.
The mesh upper builds off the knit Torin with new colors and a new design. The knit mesh is even more breathable than prior models. It also has a snugger fit in the midfoot and heel.
The Torin 4 is incredibly soft and plush. It has a more contemporary look along with a soft tongue that connects to the upper for a secure fit. The midsole is built with new Quantic foam that’s soft and cushioned, but remains responsive. A new insole adds to the plush comfort.
One of the other benefits of the Torin is the fully cushioned platform that features no drop, so your foot is flat across the whole shoe. For some, this may take getting used to – some runners describe the feeling as similar to earth shoes. If you’ve never worn zero drop shoes before, it will take an adjustment period to get used to running in them.
The biggest selling point of the Torin 4 for bunion sufferers is the wider-than-average toe box. This provides plenty of room for your toes to spread out evenly.
The fit is snugger in the midfoot and heel; however, there is little pressure from the top or the sides. The Torin is a good option if you have a narrow foot or heel, but need the extra toe room for bunions.
- Great style and colors
- Natural feel and stride with plenty of cushioning
- Wide toe box for bunions
- Zero drop can take some getting used to
- Grip isn’t suitable for trail running
Best All-Around Wide Toe Box Running Shoe
3. Altra Escalante 2
The Altra Escalante 2 shares many of the same features of the Torin 3.0 because the design comes standard on Altra shoes. The zero drop (flat) platform is standard so there’s no angle between the heel and toe that might cause sore toes some discomfort.
Altra’s Escalante 2 also comes with the standard oversize toe box, which is again critical for runners with bunions. The Escalante 2 features a stretch mesh on the upper, providing extra give if the toe box still isn’t wide enough to ease bunion pain.
The Escalante 2 is a cushioned, bouncy shoe. The Ego foam maintains it’s cushioning longer than traditional EVA foam while also allowing for a lower-profile shoe.
Runners love the extra cushion and find it’s a prime shoe for anyone who runs on pavement and needs a wide, meshy running shoe.
- Wide toebox
- Mesh upper stretches well
- Cushioned but with plenty of spring
- Durable, long-lasting shoe
- Toebox is wide but the height is low
- Upper not as secure a fit as other Altras
Best Trail Running Shoe for Bunions
4. Altra Timp Trail 1.5
If you are looking for a trail running or hiking shoe, the final Altra shoe features the same cushioned ride, no-drop platform, and wide toe box.
Although the Timp Trail 1.5 works for runners with bunions, it’s also a nice cushioned shoe to protect your feet against rocks and roots on the trail. It’s got great grip and traction. This is Altra’s widest trail shoe.
Some runners have stated that the lacing system isn’t secure enough for trails, leaving the toe box open for feet to crash into the front of the shoe. Also, the mesh is somewhat porous and lets debris into the shoe.
Still, if you need a trail shoe and have bunions, the Timp Trail is a good place to start.
- Same benefits as other Altra shoes
- Widest toe box of Altra trail shoes
- Offers both grip and comfort
- Easily attaches to trail gaiters
- No rock plate for added protection on the trail
- Some find the shoe too loose for trails
Best Wide Toe Box with Raised Heel Running Shoe
5. Topo UltraFly
The Topo UltraFly is a road shoe, but it’s also often used as a trail shoe. The brand is the brainchild of Tony Post, the former CEO of Vibram (of Vibram Five Fingers), so trail shoes aren’t a new concept for the company.
One of the reasons the shoe is a good fit for people with bunions is the wide foot-shaped design. It wraps nicely around your foot instead of creating the feeling of being strapped in or worse – a floppy fit that allows your foot to move about.
Another reason to choose this trail shoe is the spacious toe box. It adds to the fit because while it’s larger than many other models on the market, it’s not as prominent as the toe box on the Altra shoes.
Also, if you feel like you need a slight drop – instead of the zero drop, flat shoe made by Altra – the Ultrafly has a 5 mm drop for modest heel strikers.
Ultimately, Topo provides a neutral trail shoe with plenty of bounce and just enough flexibility for the foot to move naturally but still have a little bit of guidance.
- Good size toe box
- Focuses on cushion and less on structure
- Durable enough for trail shoes
- Not ideal for those who need more control throughout the shoe
- Smaller toe box than the Altra
- Not as much cushioning as the Altras we reviewed
Best Crossfit Shoe for Bunions
6. Reebok Crossfit Nano
So far, you’ve learned about some great road and trail shoes. Here’s one for those who like to take their shoes from the streets to the gym. In fact, these shoes are a favorite for crossfit.
The Reebok Nano is a shoe that runners love to hate. While some versions of the Nanos are terrible (the Nano 6), improvements have been made to the shoe along the way. Now, the Nano 8 offers a good shoe.
The latest Nano shoe is both comfortable and flexible. Unlike previous models, the latest updates move and work with your foot rather than fighting it.
Runners with bunions have embraced the Nano primarily because of the fit. Reebok chose to widen the upper around the toe box and the metatarsal joints of the foot. With the extra space, you still have room to move even when your toes grow during a workout.
- Plenty of room for sore toes
- Great for running and cross-training (including weightlifting)
- More suited for short distance runs (training runs – 10k)
Best Brooks Shoes for Bunions
7. Brooks Ghost 12
The Brooks Ghost 12 is a neutral road shoe used for daily training and performance training.
Brooks’ shoe stands out at the midsole, which absorbs more shock than many shoes on the market. It’s supported by a sturdy construction that isn’t stiff like some Asics and doesn’t feel bulky like some Altra models.
In fact, Brooks are similar to the Asics pair reviewed above in that they feel like clouds. However, the Ghost 12 feels lighter mid-run whereas other pairs weigh you down.
The Ghost 12s have a wide toe box (although not as wide as Altras) suited for bunions. The mesh on this particular version has a lot more give and stretchy-ness to it than past models.
Ideal for 5ks to marathons, it protects your toes and your knees and offers a ride suitable for beginners.
- Stable shoe good for new runners
- Lightweight while maintaining cushion
- Adjustable saddle for snugger mid-foot fit
- Cushion may be too much for some
What should I look for when shopping for running shoes?
You’ll want to look for shoes that have a wide toe box if you have bunions. This will give your toes room to breathe and will not irritate your bunions.
In addition, you should look for shoes that have mesh that can expand around the bunion. Basically, you’ll want a shoe that is as airy as possible in the toe box to accommodate your bunions.
Should I put anything on bunions while running?
If you’re in the early stages of a bunion, bunion taping can be particularly helpful. You need to stretch your big toe and make it straight. Then with the help of a KT tape, keep the big toe straight by tying it with your other toes in the opposite direction. This will not correct the bunion, but it may make running more comfortable.
How does bunion surgery affect my running?
A 2003 survey performed by the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons found that 90 percent of patients who had bunion surgery experienced significant reduction in pain and increased physical activity.
There is a good chance that you may be able to run even more after bunion surgery. The smaller the bunion, the faster you’ll be able to return to physical activity after your surgery.
Is there a way to lace my shoes with bunions?
Yes, there is! And you may be able to alleviate or completely remove pain from running with bunions by lacing your shoes differently. The technique is known as “Bunion Step-Over,” and you can watch a YouTube video about how to do it.