Bunions are a fear of every dancer, and not just from a pain standpoint. I have been in pointe shoes since the age of 9 and twenty years later, I insist on squeezing my feet into gorgeous sky high tango heels many times a week. Pain is not an issue, but my ego… oh my ego, is rather attached to the beauty of the feet I have been training for the last quarter century and bunions are…. ugly.
So let’s talk about causes bunions. Bunions are created when the bursa at the head of the first metatarsal becomes inflamed. This inflammation can happen for a number of reasons, but most often it is created when the flexor hallucis brevis and adductor hallucis become tight and inflamed due to overuse, misuse, and improper footwear. The adductor hallucis is the muscle that pulls the big toe laterally towards the other 4. The adductor hallucis has oblique and transverse heads. The oblique head begins at the base of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th metatarsals and ends along with the flexor hallucis brevis at the lateral base of the big toe, think mid-arch to inside of the big toe. So if you are looking you at your foot, this head runs from the midline of the foot approximately 1 inch in front of the fleshy mound mound of the heel, diagonally to the inner bottom of the big toe.
The transverse head is located between the ball of the foot and the beginning of the toes, running transversely from the inner corner of the big toe to the little toe. It shares tissue with the plantar metatarsophalangeal ligaments of the 3rd, 4th and 5th toes and blends into the oblique head just behind the 2nd toe.
Because so much surface area is affected, bunions and the muscle patterns that create them, seriously weaken the structure of the foot. If you suffer from bunions and adductor hallucis pain or are looking to prevent it, maybe while still wearing sky high heels, there are some great Yoga Tune Up® poses to help strengthen and de-stress the foot (come back Friday for a video clip!)