Bunions are a sore, bony lump at the base of your big toe, which can be painful enough to cause difficulty walking, and even develop posture problems when you change your gait to ease the pain on your foot. While no one knows the exact cause of bunions, foot health professionals suspect that footwear choice may play a part in their development.

If you want to avoid getting a bunion, here are some guidelines on what footwear to avoid, and how to make sensible choices.

Avoid High Heels

Women are often expected to wear high heels as part of their formal attire. However, while it’s okay to wear high heels occasionally for formal events, they aren’t the best choice for daily wear if you’re trying to avoid bunions.

High heels of more than 2 inches force you to lean forward. The change in your center of gravity puts a lot of pressure on your toes which can lead to bunions. Plus, you are also putting excess strain on your lower back.

Don’t Wear Narrow Footwear

Women are more prone to bunions than men and wearing shoes that are too tight and narrow may be the reason behind it. Footwear that gets narrowed down towards the tip force the toes together and this can significantly increase the risk of bunions forming.

Cowboy boots and swing back sandals are too pointy for most feet. When choosing footwear, go for a pair that have wider toe boxes and excellent arch support. Roomier shoes will be able to more easily conform to the shape of your foot without being restrictive.

Completely Flat Shoes are Not the Answer

Completely flat heels aren’t optimal footwear either because extra pressure is applied to the heel. Choose a slightly elevated heel of about 1/4 to 1/2 inch.

How to Choose the Best Footwear for Preventing Bunions

The best time to get your feet measured for finding the most comfortable fitting shoes is in the afternoon. The weight of your body and the force of gravity will compress your arches and swell your feet during the day, so buying early in the morning may mean you are getting shoes that are slightly too small.

Make sure you have at least a 1/2-inch clearance between the end of your shoes and the tips of your big toes while standing. A soft leather upper will provide flexibility for the shoe to give way against the pressure brought on by walking. If your shoes don’t provide adequate arch support, consider adding arch support insoles.