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Running The London Marathon With Bunions

Date published: 2023-04-23

Running a marathon can be an exciting and rewarding activity to take part in, but it also requires a great deal of discipline and training. Most people are familiar with the idea of training to take part in difficult sporting activities, but it is less well known how much foot care is required to finish a marathon.

People who don’t take the time to learn about and maintain the health of their feet during training may find they have a debilitating and insurmountable obstacle when it comes to completing the race.

My podiatrist colleague, Mr. Steven Thomas, has written a good introduction to foot care for marathon runners, which I would encourage those who are training for the first time to read. However, below I would like to focus on some key advice for people who have Bunions that are undertaking their marathon training for the first time.

Can Bunions Affect Running?

The short answer to this question is – Yes, Bunions can affect your running. Running can aggravate bunion symptoms, in particular:

  • You can experience joint pain

  • You may develop blisters, corns and inflammation

  • You may experience discomfort of the Bunion bump in shoes

  • In certain cases the running may further the progression of the Bunion deformity

Importantly, these symptoms can lead to a progressively altered gait as your body tries to avoid the discomfort and pain, which in turn can lead to problems with your ankles, knees and hips.

These symptoms can become far more intense when your feet are subjected to the pressures of marathon training and could end up being the factor that stops you from finishing the race or taking part altogether.

It is therefore important to take sensible steps towards making sure your Bunions are well cared for to reduce any impact on your race.

Running Shoes for Bunion Sufferers

If your Bunion is moderate to severe then it is likely you are already familiar with trying to find shoes that are comfortable for your feet. When choosing your running trainers you should consider the following:

  • Wide Toe Boxes to accommodate the Bunion deformity; mainstream shoe brands to consider would be Asics and Brooks

  • Stretchable and malleable fabric and materials, so that they will adapt to your unique foot shape

  • Foam Cushioning to lessen aggravation and rubbing of the deformity against the sides of the shoes

Other tips for to consider might be:

  • Try half a size larger

  • For women try out men’s shoes, which tend to have wider toe space

  • Use non-blister socks to protect the Bunion bump during sustained and protracted training sessions and on the of the marathon


A good running trainer will keep your foot stable at the same time as cushioning and protecting it from the repetitive forces of running. This can be taken a  step further with custom orthotics, which can aid in reducing Bunion symptoms. In some cases these may prove to be a permanent resolve and although orthotics cannot remove structural issues that give rise to the Bunion, they can be very effective in reducing the symptoms. This is why they are often tried as an alternative to surgery.

Typically a podiatrist would carry out a gait analysis to identify any imperfections  or inefficiencies in the way you move and develop a prescription to create a bespoke pair of orthotics suited to your unique foot type.

Foot Exercises

There are many beneficial stretches and exercises you can undertake in parallel with your marathon training to alleviate and improve Bunion symptoms, which might include:

  • Picking up marbles – Each day try putting 15-20 marbles on the floor and pick up each marble with your feet and place them in a bowl.

  • Bend your toe into correct alignment for ten seconds and repeat 3-5 times.

  • Flex your toes against a surface, such us the ground, and hold while flexed for approximately 10 seconds, then repeat 3-4 times.

  • Point your toes straight ahead for 5 seconds and then curl your toes for a further 5 seconds. Repeat this around 10 times.

Will Bunion Surgery Affect my Running?

The above conservative measures can be useful in eradicating Bunion symptoms in mild and moderate cases. However, for severe cases and in the long term surgery is the only way to fully correct the Bunion deformity.

Surgery is a long term resolution and can be planned at opportune times to increase the likelihood that you have returned to peak fitness for your marathon. Postoperative healing would normally take place over a 6-8 week period.

Your surgeon would discuss this option with you in great detail prior to arranging a surgery date to discuss the impact, if any, the surgery would have on your activities.

The Bottom Line

If you have Bunions and are training for an upcoming marathon it is important that you are fully aware of how a Bunion can affect your activities and how to manage this. There are many conservative measures that are very effective in relieving Bunion symptoms and minimising impact on your fitness goals.

If you are unsure or are experiencing pain, you should seek specialist advice. A good place to start is with a Gait Analysis, where a podiatrist can recommend ways to improve your running style and prevent any injury.

If you would like more information, or would like to schedule a consultation, contact our team on:

Tel: 0207 820 8007 | Email: admin@bunionsurgeon.co.uk | Address: 17 Harley Street, London, W1G 9QH