It is possible to have sandals for people who have bunions. There are some simple pieces of advice to find something that will work for you.


The sole needs to be wide enough to support the whole foot. There should be no part of the foot hanging over the sole. The sole should not have too high a heel. The net heel height should be less than 2 inches. That is to say that the heel should be less than 2 inches taller than the ball of the foot. The sole is better for you if it is cushioned and anatomically shaped with an arch support along the inside edge and at the ball of the foot. These sandals will be more comfortable if pressure under the Hallux (big toe) is relieved.

The Upper (top of the shoe)

This is the second area that we need to look at. There are features that we need to consider with the straps to help them be comfortable. First, we want to be sure that the straps do not put pressure on the big toe joint.  Exercise sandals for example are one that can put a lot of pressure on that joint. Having straps that go over the whole foot are preferred. If there are more adjustable straps on the sandal, can help it to fit better and thus be more comfortable. Three strapped uppers are commonly found. If these straps do not put pressure on the bunion, they will go with you a long way! Having adjustable straps helps keep the sandal from being too loose on one hand and too tight on the other. If a person’s foot swells, this is an important feature.

Seams in the upper are to be avoided if they put pressure on a sore spot of the foot. If there was no seam, there is a single layer of material there. If there is a seam, there can be as many as four layers of material present. This makes that area less flexible. Some sandals have a toe loop that holds the big toe and the upper is a single sheath over the foot. These are ones that are possible if they are comfortable to wear. This toe loop will hold the big toe in a straighter position and the upper can hide the bunion from people seeing it.

Flip Flops

Wearing flat flip flops too often, or long term, can cause bunions or hammer toes to develop. If the toe post is a vertical one, the toes have to clench to hold it on as you walk. This action tends to make the big toe and the smaller toes to clench. This clenching action causes the big toe to move in and causes the smaller toes to develop hammer toes. All this makes the toes move and bend abnormally. Flip-flops also cause a shorter stride in walking. This leads to increased plantar pressure on the foot and other issues like plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis.

As the foamy sole wears down, it increases the need to clench to hold them on. The flat flops are best suited for wearing for short times at the beach or in the shower to protect against sharp stones at the beach and microbes and fungi in a public shower. There are some flip flops that have anatomically shaped soles. These are generally more adjustable and people can wear them for longer times and be comfortable. If you have questions about sandals, talk to your local Canadian Certified Pedorthist.


Written by Jim Pattison, C. Ped (C)