A bunion can lead to extreme foot pain and gait issues.

A few years ago I had a bunion removed with surgery.  A bunion is a bump on the base of the big toe joint that causes pain, reddening and/or inflammation.  It can cause the formation of blisters and or calluses in and around the first and second toes and a dull or sharp pain the ball of the foot.  Although the surgery was said to be a success, further down the road I believe it led to a neuroma (inflammation of the nerves located between the metatarsals of the foot) and a hammertoe. A hammertoe is caused by an imbalance in the muscles of the toes and foot from an unnatural gait and can also form from a bunion which forces your second toe into a cramped position, like wearing high heels or restrictive shoes.

I was unable to walk on that foot without pain. I could no longer run on my treadmill, teach kickboxing, jump rope without great difficulty and pain, let alone do a lunge, plank or pushup.  The neuroma was more painful than the bunion was.   Goodbye high heels!  After repeated visits to the podiatrist with no success, I researched ways to bring relief to my foot so I could walk and do the things I love to do without pain.

When do you think about range of motion in the foot?  Probably rarely, if at all!  As we get older, our body starts to rely on our hips and knees to lift the legs to propel our body.  The majority of us rarely think about treating the foot to get relief.  Our feet get knotted up, tight and imbalanced, just like any other muscles in the body. Keeping elasticity in the foot and the muscles of the lower leg is critical to allow full ROM. Biomechanics, repetitive motion, sleep deprivation, dehydration all contribute to foot dysfunction and pain.  Would you compromise the foundation of your house?  Why not place importance on the foundation of your body?


Keeping the muscles in the lower leg supple and hydrated by rolling them out regularly with YTU balls relieved my symptoms of foot pain.  As for the foot itself, rolling out the thick fascia and muscles to bring fresh blood and oxygen relieved the pain caused by foot dysfunction.

It is just as important to articulate your toes as it is to articulate your fingers for good foot health. Rolling out my tootsies and practicing Yoga Tune Up® exercises regularly as in the Quick Fix RX videos for Feet and Ankles and well as Yoga Tune Up® ball routines in the beginning of the Knee-Hab video has relieved the pain in my foot and increased the ROM in the big toe that I had lost from bunion surgery. It also relieved the pain associated with the neuroma, and the hammertoe is status quo.  I can now do all the activities I love to do while keeping my tootsies happy!

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Sue McGurn

Susan has been in the business of fitness since 1990 as a group exercise instructor, personal trainer, program manager and leading the NY BFIT University Instructor Training program for one of the nation's largest largest health club chains, Bally Total Fitness for 17 years. Susan was introduced to the Pilates principle of exercise on the reformer in 1999 by Elizabeth Larkam, director of Pilates and Beyond, and who is internationally recognized as an innovator in mind body movement. She holds certificates from BASI, Balanced Body Pilates, American Council on Exercise (ACE) for group and personal training, and licensed to teach Yoga Tune Up® with specialty certificates in Yoga Tune Up® Ball Therapy. Susan is well versed in Pilates Mat work with ring, roller, bands and ball as well as using unique props in Yoga Tune Up® to design programs based on individual needs, challenges and goals. Susan states, "Pilates and Yoga Tune Up® has deeply connected my mind to work synergistically with my body and helping me and many others live better in their body everyday."

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Isabelle Côté

I am already enthousiast to roll some balls with my feet! The story of success for mobility and to give a new life to feet give me a new energy to take my feet in a new path ! Merci!

Robert Ouellet

I like the metaphor of the foundation of the house and to support the house this foundation have to be strong and well balance. And that explain why since I do yoga I have so many problems not to move in the asana like eagle and tree poses. Before I will get those “oignon” to my feet, I will try to roll some balls.

Melissa Melendres

Great post! I have bunions and run. I was so relieved when I found the YTU therapy balls. It has been such an experience, especially for my feet. I’ve been mostly rolling out my heel and arch, but thanks for the reminder of the toes……need to give them just as much attention.


Ah! If only my grandpa had access to YTU balls when he was my age..he has the craziest looking bunions I’ve ever seen and can barely walk. Thanks for this article! As a yoga teacher, I find it’s extremely important to stress foot therapy techniques to students since we are doing various standing postures all throughout class. I can’t wait to start exposing my classes to the yoga tune up balls. I’m happy you were able to find some relief with them.


I really appreciate this article as I have a bunion and pain in my second toe on my L foot. I really need to be better about rolling out my feet when drying my hair, washing dishes or standing at the office. I do other things right though, by wearing shoes that don’t compromise my toes.

Mary Eileen

In the horse world we have an expression, “no hoof no horse”. If only humans would embrace that as well. Great article.


Funny finding these hidden areas with limited flexibility. I need to use some of these great ideas to help bring back range of movement in my feet.


In the past year I had started to experience a popping in both of my knees (luckily without pain) and it was only until I took the YTU level 1 training with Jill that I was able to trace the root of the problem to my feet! I am now making foot maintenance with the YTU balls a regular part of my personal practice. I’m also looking forward to bringing YTU foot rolling techniques to my yoga students.


Thanks for the post. I love to incorporate YTU ball for the feet and toe articulation into my yoga classes. We often fail to give our feet the time and attention they deserved given the daily support they deliver. Relating the feet as the foundation of our physical house is a perfect analogy. You have brought greater awareness to how YTU for the feet can help mitigate foot problems such as bunions too. Will share this info with my participants for sure.


Great post !! I’ve been working at restaurants for many years, so spend many hours on my feet in bad footwear. It really started to affect my running and I remember a friend introducing me to using balls to roll out the plantar fascia. It was amazing … almost every night after work I’d start to roll them out and it really helped my knee and back pain as well !


Thank you for this post. It is interesting to learn about how the bunion affected your daily activities – you could not jump rope, run or do anything that involved curling your toes under. This information is extremely helpful for helping understand some of my clients’ limitations due to bunion growth. I’m excited to introduce YTU ball therapy to improve foot health.


My sister has bunions and I have collapsed arches. I think some therapy ball excercises will help us both.

Leslie Van Schaack

I love hearing success stories from YTU! And especially stories like these in the comments- they really point to the wide range of ailments and issues ball therapy can address. Most people can understand the idea of rolling out our knots and tense areas, loosening up stiff muscles and the like. But preventing bunions? Less arch pain? Better body mechanics from working just the feet? To the lay observer it may seem like quackery. But compare the cost and complications of some regular ball rolling and playing w/ toes vs. cutting open your feet and sawing off bone?? I think… Read more »

MaryBeth Frosco

Hi Sue. I am in the YTU TT Level 1 this week and I taught the class on using the YTU balls for feet and ankles. I spent an evening using the balls in all sorts of ways…playing with my feet/ankles….to come up with an original class. This playing blasted opened a door of revelation of my feet – the muscles, bones, fascia – and the need for us to really become aware of our feet and the necessity for us to give them the care. I spent a few hours with the balls on my feet and ankles and… Read more »

Diane M

You make an excellent point to include the lower legs. I have just been using balls on my feet for a short time and love it. At first my legs were super sensitive to using the balls, but with more work on my feet and increased range of motion in the flexors and extensors in the lower leg; the area is now less sensitive and able to tolerate more work. Clearly the muscles need it. Thanks for sharing.

Rachel S

Thanks for a great post. I’m looking forward to trying the YTU balls to assist with my foot pain, but what about reversing damage? I’m curious if there’s anything I can do to reverse a tailor’s bunion that’s forming on my foot (I’ve had bunion, taylor’s bunion and neuroma surgery on one foot already) without having to undergo surgery. Right now, I’m not in too much pain but I know eventually this foot could end up as bad as my other was and surgery seemed like the only thing to get rid of the pain. My other foot might be… Read more »


What a fascinating story — seems like such a simple solution to alleviate or prevent some major problems down the road. I’ve always found that a little TLC towards the feet feels phenomenal and goes a long way. I look forward to rolling out my feet tonight…

Matt Nadler

Even though I’ve been teaching and practicint yoga for decades, for whatever reason I don’t take the time to take care of my feet and toes – really take care of them. What’s the result? Shortened plantar flexion, a recurring callous that has to be removed by a podiatrist twice a year, an ongoing search for the “right” shoes, an arthritic great toe that prevents full extenson, and tired, hot aching feet when I’m walking – no matter what shoes I’m wearing! Additionally, having feet and ankles that aren’t properly taken care of may have contributed to a clogged femoral… Read more »

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Sharon Stockla

Recently in a YTU class, we did wonderful work on releasing and strengthening hip muscles. Walking from class I noticed a total change in my feet. The movement of my feet and ankles was altered and different parts of my feet were connecting with the ground. My feet felt so good and I could walk much further without getting sore feet! It shows how everything in the foot affects the hip and vica versa. So keeping the muscles in the lower leg supple and hydrated by rolling them out regularly with YTU balls can do more than just relieve foot… Read more »


Thanks for the reminder, personally I make it a habit of rolling on my feet and keep a pair of Yamuna footwakers with my make-up bag. I put make-up everyday so I stand on the footwakers to stretch the fascia of my feet. I also use my YTU balls regularly and it makes a huge difference in how I can function throughout the day.

Gloria Tan

Thank you for your post. I am guilty of not paying as much attention to my feet as I should. I couldn’t believe it when Jill told us that over 25% of all our bones were in our feet! YTU sitting seza and the balls have really been helping me realize how much tension I had in my feet. I am going to take better care of them now, thanks for the reminder… after all our feet are the foundation of our body, which means keeping your feet healthy can help keep you healthy.


Hi Sue and thanks for this post. It seems that foot problems are a real modern epidemic, what with all these flat, hard, even surfaces that we walk on and supportive and/or constrictive shoes that incarcerate our feet every day. Our ankles, toes and feet rarely (if ever) get the chance to move in all the different ways they are designed to, and as a result our feet get weak and stiff. It’s no wonder we have bunions and all the other maladies that harangue the feet! I have recently started practicing rolling my feet with the YTU balls, and… Read more »


Thanks for sharing your story. I never really thought about my feet and I am now paying more particular attention to them since learning all the exercises I can do. Gotta take care of those tootsies!

Jocelyn Larson

I too have had problems with my feet in the past. I have been to two different podiatrists and gone back and forth wearing professional orthodotics religiously. I am currently on a wave of not wearing my orthodics to try and “naturally” strengthen my feet, but they hurt after long days of work and activity. I find the yoga tune up bals are an excellent solution to this problem. Take five minutes of your day roling your feet around the quadratus plantae,the long muscle that runs from ankle to toes, and working the sides of the foot like the flexor… Read more »

Patricia Antoni

Thank you Sue for your blog. My right foot my right heel to be specific had so much pain I was told to roll it which is what brought me to the tune-up balls. I bought them from a yoga studio and started using them. It took a long time but the pain went away. That’s what brought me to my first tune-up class. After 2 classes I signed up for the training. I can’t tell you all the little miracles that have happened. They should be called miracle balls. I appreciate your article because I just never thought about… Read more »


Great post – I had a bunion removed when I was in my 30’s and have one now on my other foot. My feet are generally a mess – out of sight, out of mind – right? This post is a great reminder to pay more attention to the body part that truly carrie us through the day.


Thank you for this post! My mom is developing bunions, my grandpa has super high arches in his feet, and I have a culmination of both their feet. A yr new to yoga tune up, I am still working to implement all exercises and self care but this post inspires me even more to share what I know with my family and people I know, even a podiatrist who I will suggest she tell her patients about YTU.

Barb Voss

Having had a previous surgery for a bunion, experiencing excruciating pain from a neuroma, and suffering through a stress fracture of the foot, I can attest to the need to keep the feet healthy. The yoga tune up ball exercises are the best- really awakening those areas we normally pay no attention to. I look forward to improved foot health as I continue exploring the possibilities of the tune up balls and caring for my footsies! They so deserve a little extra attention!


I have arthritis in my toe from fractures in my sesamoids and rolling out my foot with the YTU Balls has been very helpful in managing my pain and also in correcting my walk – which has altered quite a bit after my injury. I have found that by paying attention to where my foot muscles feel tight highlights where I’ve been asymmetrically carrying weight on my foot. Thanks for this great reminder to not giving in to the pain of an old injury.


I am actively trying to prevent neuroma, as I have a hereditary malformation of the sesamoid at the ball of the foot. I regularly use my YTU Therapy Balls and sit in Seza to help keep the sole of my foot open.

Jamie Leigh

Bunion are my worst nightmare. Aside from the pain, my ego would die if they ever show up on my feet…. I’m a tango dancer and it’s all about how pretty the feet are, so I am religious with my foot exercises and my YTU Balls!