Being With Bunions

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My husband and I love going hiking. There’s nothing like the feeling of the outdoors. The rush of ascending a challenging incline. Flowers, wildlife, and amazing views become our movement back drop. What could possibly spoil all this awesomeness?


We had just finished a hike outside of Julian. When my husband complained about his feet, I said what could I do to help. I had just finished my Yoga Tune Up® Level 1 teacher training and thought maybe we could do something with the therapy balls on the feet. A few minutes later, relief was insight!

Up until this point, my husband only saw surgery as his only option for relief. He may still go the surgical route because of the rubbing of the shoe on the bunion. But now he has some alternative tools to use to mitigate his pain.

Here are a few of his favorite foot exercises for bunions that have been game changers for living with bunions:

Ball on the Ball

Place a single (original) Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Ball on the ball of the foot (not on the toes). Flex the toes around the ball, wait three breaths, and extend the toes. You can also try isolating and lifting each toe one at a time starting with the big toe.

Sweet ROLLief!

Bunions crowd the other toes. This upgrades the space between the toes and challenges the extensors of the toes (like extensor hallucis longus and extensor digitorum longus).

Feet in Line

Come to standing. Notice your feet. Are they turned out at an angle or pointing straight ahead? Point them straight ahead, look straight ahead, and notice how it feels from hip to toe (propriocept).

Stand with your feet in parallel to improve knee, hip, and lower back health.

My husband uses proprioception to notice when he’s running or walking that his feet have started to turn out. It’s made a difference in his foot to hip pain.

Hip Strength

Bunion and hips? Strong hips will help stabilize the feet and create a better sense of balance.

One range of motion (ROM) exercise that has been helpful is Hip Lowers. Stand with one foot on a block or book (also can be done on floor to modify) and one foot off. First, see if you can keep the pelvis level. Then, use the “blocked” hip to lower the pelvis as far as you can go. Come back to level. Repeat.

When my husband did this in a recent class, he fatigued quickly. This was such a great assessment movement that let him know where he needed to work on his hip strength to create more pain free walking and running.

I wish I had a magic wand to get rid of my husband’s bunion. Having the bunion exercises and tools to cope may be the second best thing!

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Amalea Fisher

Amalea Fisher is a certified Yoga Tune Up® instructor. She started practicing YTU after experiencing debilitating neck pain and it had an immediate impact when nothing else worked. 2013 found Amalea fresh off a serious illness where could not practice Yoga Tune Up® for some time. This was a reminder for her how essential YTU was to her well being and motivated Amalea to follow her dream of sharing Yoga Tune Up® with others. Amalea wants to help everyone achieve a better body within a therapeutic yoga setting.

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Monica B Pack

I love the correlation of the feet and the hips! I personally noticed this in our last class while lying in Apanasana against the wall. The amount of engagement it took to hold my hip, foot, leg in parallel was incredible. I definitely have some weakness in Glute medius, minimus and TFL because of dance and its emphasis on external rotation.

Joann Burnham

The relationship of the hips to the feet is so important. I look forward to adding “Hip Lowers” to my foot rolling practice to keep my feet happy healthy and pain free.

Mel C Russo

Thanks for these exercises for bunion relief. I actually had the surgery years ago on both feet! One foot was a huge success and the other was (and still is) a disaster. I formed a large amount of scar tissue in the joint of my big toe. I had no movement at all. I had a second surgery to remove the scar tissue only to have it all come back. Although I don’t live with bunion pain anymore, my right foot suffers from no joint mobility which proves to offer a whole new set of foot pain and issues…sigh….. rolling… Read more »