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5 Best Running Shoes For Bunions, From A Marathon Runner

Carleigh Ferrante
Author:
April 04, 2024
Carleigh Ferrante
mbg Commerce Editor
By Carleigh Ferrante
mbg Commerce Editor
Carleigh Ferrante is the Commerce Editor at mindbodygreen.
best running shoes for bunions
Image by Carleigh Ferrante / mbg creative
April 04, 2024
We carefully vet all products and services featured on mindbodygreen using our commerce guidelines. Our selections are never influenced by the commissions earned from our links.
The best running shoes for bunions:

One of the most common foot deformities1 (particularly in women!), bunions can be caused by genetics, the shape of your foot, another foot deformity, or joint issues. Not only can the bump at the base of your toe joint be painful and intrusive—but it can make finding the best running shoes even more difficult.

I should know: I’ve had bunions for as long as I can remember (thank you, ballet)—but I didn’t let that stop me from reaping all the benefits of running. In the past decade, I’ve run thousands of miles, four marathons, and ten half marathons—and I’ve tested dozens of running shoes for bunions.

Along the way, I’ve interviewed countless podiatrist and learned that the best running shoes for bunions have a wide toe box, good arch support, and ample cushioning (which can also help improve performance2). 

Below, find the five best running shoes for bunions based on research, podiatrist insights, and extensive testing

The link between bunions & running

Running comes with many benefits for you mental healthcardiovascular health3, and longevity4—but it can also make bunions more susceptible to pressure, pain, and discomfort.

I've personally found a few helpful remedies for running with bunions (e.g. toe spacers and foot strengthening exercises), but it's all a moot point if you aren't running in the right shoes.

Contrary to popular belief, shoes do not cause bunions. Instead research shows1 that ill-fitting shoes can case more pain for people with bunions, as the tightness creates pressure on the toe and foot. 

“A more rigid sneaker will usually cause the forefoot to jam forward into the toe box and can cause more pressure on the bunion," holistic podiatrist Robert Kornfeld, DPM, previously told mindbodygreen.

How to find the right running shoes for bunions

A lot of factors go into choosing the best running shoes, but bunions add another layer of confusion to the equation.

Per podiatrist Dina Gohil, DPM, runners with bunions should look for a wide toe box to avoid excessive pressure and rubbing, good arch support to protect your joints and feet, and ample cushioning to help prevent injury. Additionally, it's important to find a stabilizing shoe, as bunions can impact your balance.

Kornfeld adds that the best running shoes for bunions should have a soft upper and flexible sole that moves with the foot—and it’s also important to know when to try on a new pair of running shoes.

"Making sure there is enough room is best accomplished by shopping for sneakers at the end of the day when the foot is naturally larger since, over the course of the day, blood flow into the foot increases girth and can cause some swelling," Kornfeld explains.

My testing process

I researched dozens of shoe options for runners with bunions before narrowing down my selections for testing based on expert insight and feedback from other runners with bunions. For the purpose of this guide, I tested each shoe for at least two weeks—but the majority I've worn for over one year as a long-distance runner.
asics gel nimbus
Image by Carleigh Ferrante / mbg creative

The best running shoes for bunions

Best podiatrist-recommended

Puma Deviate NITRO™ 2

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Puma Deviate NITRO 2 review
Image by Carleigh Ferrante / mbg creative
Puma Deviate NITRO 2 review
Image by Carleigh Ferrante / mbg creative
Puma Deviate NITRO 2 review
Image by Carleigh Ferrante / mbg creative
Puma Deviate NITRO 2 review
Image by Carleigh Ferrante / mbg creative
Puma Deviate NITRO 2 review
Image by Carleigh Ferrante / mbg creative
Drop
6mm
Weight
9.1 oz.
Sizes
5-12, half sizes available

I first laced up my Puma Deviate Nitro 2 running sneakers about a year ago, and I loved them so much they won me over after a decade of running in the ASICS Gel Nimbus

I run significantly faster in these sneakers. At first I thought it was a fluke, but now I attribute it to their lightweight design and carbon-plated midsole. The engineered carbon plate helps stabilize the midsole and maximize energy transfer.

The Puma Deviate Nitro 2 has a lower drop (6 millimeters) than others on the list, but still enough cushioning to provide a soft landing. The most recent iteration has a complete layer of the brand’s NITRO™️ Elite foam across the midsole, which helps propel the foot forward.

What's more, they keep my feet supported during treadmill workouts, sprints, long road runs, and even my last marathon—and the shoe is incredibly lightweight. It has a breathable mesh upper and a TPU heel spoiler that makes these shoes easy to put on and take off. 

Reflective accents and durable rubber grips help increase safety and traction, while the PWRTAPE in the upper provides targeted reinforcement for more support. While there are no wide sizes available, these shoes doe have a spacious toe box that's great for runners with bunions.

Want to learn more about why these became my go-to sneakers? Read my full Puma review.

Pros & cons

Pros:
  • Lightweight feel with solid stability
  • Great support for high arches
  • Carbon plated midsole helps maximize energy transfer & improve my speed
Cons:
  • No wide sizes available
  • Not as much cushioning as others on our list

What podiatrists say

Just about every podiatrist we spoke to gave this shoe the thumbs up—and it's even earned the APMA seal of acceptance. According to Korneld, “It’s a perfect shoe for runners with high arches, with its cushioned forefoot and predictable fit.”

The Puma Deviate Nitro 2 also meets our podiatrist-backed criteria of a spacious toe box, flexible upper, and good arch support. In fact, podiatrists even recommended it as one of the best running shoes for high arches.

Best overall

Asics Gel Nimbus 26

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asics gel nimbus 25 review
asics gel nimbus
Image by Carleigh Ferrante / mbg creative
Heel Drop
8mm
Weight
9 oz.
Sizes
5-13, half sizes available

Asics calls the Gel Nimbus 26 sneakers its most comfortable running shoe yet, and I can't disagree. I've worn the super cushioned sneaker for three out of four marathons, and they've never caused discomfort to my bunions—yup, even during a 26-mile race.

Designed for road running, the style is maxed out with cushioning, which makes every stride feel like stepping on a cloud. Best for those with high or neutral arches, the shoe effortlessly propels you forward despite weighing just over 9 ounces.

While I've been wearing these shoes for over a decade, I can confidently say that every iteration of the Asics Gel Nimbus improves upon the last. The latest version has a soft cushioned midsole, made with the brand’s FF BLAST™ ECO PLUS cushioning and a new PureGEL™ technology, which creates an even softer landing with less impact on the joints.

Despite the ultra cushioned construction, I can wear these shoes on 90°F training runs and still expect my feet to stay dry and comfortable thanks to the breathable knit upper. Plus, the brand is slowly making small steps towards more sustainable design with a new sockliner dying process and 75% recycled material for the mesh upper.

Want to know what makes Asics special? Check out my full review of the Asics Gel Nimbus 26 sneaker.

Pros & cons

Pros:
  • Flexible design
  • Thick cushioning
  • Versatile for long and short runs
Cons:
  • Not available in wide sizes
  • Not recommended for flat feet

What podiatrists say

The entire shoe, from the upper to the sole, is flexible and moves with your foot—which Kornfeld says is a must for those of us with bunions. Kornfeld previously recommended the ASICS Gel Nimbus shoes for runners of all experience levels, noting that they’re great for those who need additional plush cushioning.

"I like this shoe for patients with bunions," Kornfeld says. "It has a nice knit upper which conforms easily to the shape of the foot. It is comfortable, gives plenty of toe box room for the bunion, and has great cushioned soles. It has a rockered sole for ease of propulsion. It is not as lightweight as other shoes, but it's well-cushioned sole makes the slight increase in weight not an issue for most."

asics gel nimbus 25 review
Image by Carleigh Ferrante / mbg creative
Best for treadmill runs

Brooks Ghost 15

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Brooks Ghost 15 Running Shoe on feet on sidewalk with leggings
Image by Carleigh Ferrante / mbg creative
Brooks Ghost 15 Running Shoe Review with white and purple on runners feet on sidewalk side by side
Image by Carleigh Ferrante / mbg creative
Weight
9.1 oz.
Drop
12mm
Sizes
5-13 (half, narrow, wide, & extra wide)

I started testing the Brooks Ghost 15 after a 4-month running break following a marathon, and I genuinely worried the comeback would be painful. Instead the shoes somehow made running fun again—and it all comes down to the smooth ride.

Similar to the Gel Nimus style, the Ghost are designed for road running with an abundance of cushioning (though still less than the brand's Ghost GTX or Max designs). This ensures you get a soft-but-not-squishy landing.

Some of my favorite construction elements of the Brooks include a segmented crash pad for a smoother toe-off and an updated midsole made from a new lighter cushioning that helps reduce the weight down to just 9.2 ounces.

Per the brand, the design is best for those who only need neutral support. Personally I consider the APMA-approved style stabilizing enough for my stride, and I honestly feel like I'm running on clouds.

Bonus: The Brooks Ghost 15 sneakers are carbon neutral with an upper made from 57% recycled materials.

Pros & cons

Pros:
  • Highly cushioned but still lightweight
  • Available in narrow, standard, wide, or x-wide sizes
  • Spacious toe box with a mesh upper that molds to your foot
Cons:
  • Sizing runs small
  • Not as much forefront cushioning

What podiatrists say

These shoes were recommended by all three podiatrists we interviewed. Anne Sharkey, DPM, says they're specifically great for those with high arches or wide feet, adding that "the arch of the foot functions to absorb shock, store it, and then convert that energy into propulsion during the gait cycle."

Podiatrist and founder of Dr. Brenner's RX, Hillary Brenner, DPM, says they're among her top-recommended shoes for runners seeking a neutral shoe. And lastly, Gohil explains that these shoes are known for stability and comfort, with a roomy toe box that's great for people with bunions.

Brooks Ghost 15 Running Shoe Review with white and purple on runners feet on sidewalk side by side
Image by Carleigh Ferrante / mbg creative
Best for high arches

Saucony Triumph

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best cushioned running shoes Saucony Triumph 20
Saucony Guide 15
Image by Carleigh Ferrante / mbg creative
Saucony Guide 15
Image by Carleigh Ferrante / mbg creative
Drop
10mm
Weight
8.6 oz.
Sizes
5-12, half sizes available

After two weeks of running in the Saucony Triumph running shoes, I'm fairly certain they'll soon be an MVP in my collection. Thanks to a soft collar and flat-knit upper, these plush trainers have a sock-like feel, with a secure fit and thick cushioning.

Like every top contender I tested, these sneakers have a wide toe box that prevents the shoe from rubbing against my bunions. In fact, I recently ran 10 miles in these sneakers and my feet felt no discomfort or pain in my bunions whatsoever. I will note that I did feel a bit of rubbing around my ankles the first time I wore these, but I've avoided it by switching to higher socks.

What really makes the Saucony Triumph stand out most is its bouncy, lightweight feel. When I first put these on, I couldn't help but rock back and forth to feel the bounce—and, when I'm running, I can truly feel the shoes helping my body propel forward.

These APMA certified sneakers have a 10 millimeter drop (on the higher end), but are the lightest design (8.6 ounces) out of all the shoes on the list.

Sustainability bonus: The shoe is vegan and made with recycled materials.

Pros & cons

Pros:
  • APMA certified
  • Lightest design on our list, but still have significant cushioning
  • Mold to my feet with a sock-like feel
Cons:
  • Some say they are't true to size
  • Some rubbing around the ankle

What podiatrists say

This shoe came recommended by Brenner, who says it's a great pick for those who need arch support. The neutral, highly cushioned running shoe is a solid pick, whether you’re racing in marathons, running on the treadmill, or jogging around your neighborhood.

"Many of my patients really like this shoe," Kornfeld adds. "It has a very comfortable fit, good cushioning but maintains a lightweight profile." He says it's a great running shoe for people with bunions because of its good fit and roomy toe box. 

Best cushioning

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v13

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New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12
Image by New Balance
New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12
Image by Carleigh Ferrante / mbg creative
Drop
6mm
Weight
10.9 oz.
Sizes
5-13, including half sizes, including narrow, wide, and x-wide sizes

New Balance says if it only made one running shoe it would be the Fresh Foam 1080—and after two weeks of testing, I can see why. I've been pleasantly surprised by how a shoe with this much cushioning can feel so lightweight. Even when road running, I barely feel the pavement under my feet.

My pace is naturally faster in these bouncy shoes—and I never feel discomfort in my bunions, thanks to the spacious toe box and wide design. There is ample cushioning in the midsoles, which helps give a smooth heel-to-toe transition.

What's more, the breathable mesh upper is so flexible that it feels like an extension of my foot. And yet, a solid rubber outsole gives this shoe a sturdiness other lightweight shoes lack. This factor makes these a great stability running shoe as well.

This shoe has also earned the APMA Seal of Acceptance, confirming it’s beneficial for optimal foot health.

Plus, the style is available in four widths: narrow, standard, wide, and x-wide. I have narrow feet, but with bunions I opted for the standard width, which was a perfect fit.

Pros & cons

Pros:
  • Great underfoot cushioning & sufficient bounce
  • 4 widths available
  • Sturdy design for those who need added stability
Cons:
  • Heel cup is too narrow for some

What podiatrists say

Per Korneld, "It has great cushioning, plenty of room in the toe box, easily accommodates orthotics for those that need them. It's generous cushioning makes it ideal for long distance running." He adds that these are a good shoe for people with bunions because of the roomy toe box.

Plus, they're extremely well-cushioned with ample arch support. In fact, we named these sneakers one of the best cushioned running shoes.

It's worth noting, however, that Korneld says these shoes have "a bit of a rigid forefoot with a mid-arch rocker to assist with toe off and propulsion," adding that "the rocker is not something that works for every runner."

Comparing the best running shoes for bunions

ProductPriceDropWeightSizesColorways
ASICS Gel Nimbus 26$12011mm10.2 oz.5-13; half sizes; wide sizes19
Brooks Ghost 15$11012mm9 oz.5-13; half sizes; wide sizes20
Saucony Triumph$11810mm8.6 oz.5-12; half sizes15
New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v13$1656mm10.9 oz.5-13; half sizes; narrow sizes; wide sizes; x-wide sizes15
Puma Deviate Nitro 2$1606mm9.1 oz.5-12; half sizes8

The shoes that I don't recommend for bunions:

  • On Cloud 5: While these breathable sneakers are very lightweight (7.1-ounce), the material is super thin and not durable as others that I've tried. I actually got a pretty significant hole in mine after only about three months of wear.
  • ASICS Gel Cumulus: I once ordered these by accident when trying to replace my Gel Nimbus. The material feels too stiff (especially for runners with bunions) and the shoe didn’t move with the foot the same way my beloved Gel Nimbus do.
  • Mizuno Wave Inspire 19: My twin sister runs in these, so I gave them a go—but the brand’s sizing is notoriously narrow. While I do have narrow feet, there isn’t enough space in the toe box for those of us with bunions.

FAQ:

What causes bunions?

According to holistic podiatrist Robert Kornfeld, DPM, "Most bunions are caused by a first metatarsal bone that is hypermobile, which means under the stresses of body weight and impact, the first metatarsal elevates upward, thereby locking the first metatarsal joint." When excessive pressure is placed on the foot, it can cause the bones to move out of place and a bunion to develop.

Do bunions cause pain?

Research shows that, while many people only experience mild discomfort from bunions, many others can suffer from intrusive pain—particularly if you are wearing tight-fitting shoes that cause excessive pressure.

Are Hokas good for bunions?

Depending on your foot type and preferences, many Hoka styles can be good for bunions. One of the best Hoka shoes for bunions is the Hoka Bondi 8, which podiatrist Dina Gohil says is known for its cushioning and accommodating design.


Per Gohil, "The wide toe box and generous cushioning can provide ample room and reduce pressure on the bunion area, potentially alleviating discomfort. However, it's essential to try on different shoe models to find the best fit and comfort for your individual needs."


I currently have Hoka in my line-up for future testing.

What is the best women's running shoe for bunions?

According to podiatrists, the best women’s running shoe for bunions is one with good arch support, a spacious toe box, and ample cushioning. The best shoes for you depends on your foot type and preferences—but our top pick overall is the ASICS Gel Nimbus 26.

The takeaway

The best running shoes for bunions make a huge difference in your comfort and performance—and I'm walking (running?) proof that you can run comfortably with bunions. If you're looking for a new pair of running shoes that won't aggravate your bunions, podiatrists suggest prioritizing a wide toe box, arch support, cushioning, and a lightweight, flexible design. Each shoe on our list meets these guidelines and passed our extensive testing process.

Just getting started on your running journey? Check out our roundup of the best running shoes for beginners, with recommendations from podiatrists..

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