VFFs, Bunions and Correct Toes
I've had bunions since I was 2-3, and have flat feet/overpronation. My bunions are severe, and won't win any awards for beauty.
My question, for those of you with particular ugly bunions that aren't caused by heels, is:
a) Will running in VVFs worsen by bunion, because of my overpronation and loose ankle ligaments?
b) Between Correct Toes and VVFs, which would strengthen my muscles more? Correct Toes are silicone toe spreaders that put your toes in their anatomically correct place. They really straighten my toes, but at the same time, I don't feel my toe muscles as much as I do with VFFs. VFFS give me space between my toes, too, but definitely not as much as I need.
Unfortunately, I can't afford to go to a specialist, and I am overseas. A sports doctor once told me that for short runs, Correct Toes were fine, but discouraged me from using Correct Toes/VFFs for long distance running.
Many of the success stories with VFFs are with people with mild bunions, and I'm afraid of further messing up my feet.
I have bunions too and purchased Correct Toes a couple months back. I find that they are comfortable enough to wear barefoot around the house and while working out (body weight stuff) but I can't wear them at work (bartending) which is where I originally intended to use them the most. A lot has to do with them fitting into shoes -- you need a really wide toe box. Also, it's sort of like breaking in flip-flops, except with plastic between each toe, so after a few hours of walking around, I find that it is the the skin and not so much the bones or muscles that hurt. I'm thinking of purchasing some toe socks for this. I think that Correct Toes are good for getting your toes where they should be -- I find that I have more balance and that I actually use my big toe the way it is supposed to be used when I'm wearing them (if that makes any sense), but I can't get to the point of wearing them all the time yet. I doubt they will cure my bunions over the long term, as I don't see those giant bone lumps going anywhere. My podiatrist laughed at them, and told me to come back ina year after using them, but he's a mainstream doctor.
To answer your question, I don't think they will do more harm, since they force you into having a more natural gait. I have much less pronation while wearing them. Just take it slow and if it hurts, stop for awhile. Maybe alternate between CT and VFFs.
Probably not a smart idea to dive right into running with VFF for distance before doing some serious rehab for your foot. Especially with enough pronation to create bunions. Do some strengthening work for the muscles of your feet. Exercises like towel curls (crinkling a towel up with your toes) and single leg balancing while maintaining an arch in your foot. Walking for short periods would certainly be a very good activity as well. Just make sure you are actively avoiding pronation or you won't activate the appropriate musculature.
Combine this with the use of your Correct Toes and anything is possible. It is not out of the question of the body to reabsorb the extra bone it laid down for the bunions over time, assuming your foot mechanics improve, per Wolf's Law. Just be cognizant of how your feet are feeling and switch back to supportive shoes as needed for recovery.
When you are ready you can start running short distances and progress to longer distances. You likely could set yourself back if you go out of the gate too quickly.
I had mildly pronating feet (plus a very mild bunion on the right side) before switching to minimalist shoes and it took about a month and a half to make the full transition. That's been about 3 years ago and the bunion that seemed like was forming is gone.
I don't have any advice, but I wanted to suggest you also post this at the forums of Birthdayshoes.com. Lots of VFF wearers there, as well as correct toes users.
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