The Hereditary Bunion Myth: Part II of III | By Dr. Ray McClanahan, DPM

After reading part one of the Hereditary Bunion Myth, you are likely asking yourself an important question – If a bunion deformity is a non-hereditary, progressive dislocation of the big toe joint caused by footwear; how do we prevent one from occurring and progressing?

The answer is both simple and difficult. Simple, in terms of understanding how to prevent a developing bunion, but difficult in the way it is actually implemented. This difficulty is due to the relative lack of footwear options that allow our big toe joint to remain in its natural position.


An important place to start our conversation about prevention is at the beginning of life. We can clearly see that bunions are not a problem for babies, as babies are not born with bunions. This type of deformity is also not a problem for infants, as infant footwear reflects the natural human foot shape -widest at the ends of the toes.


The reality is our propensity to develop a bunion begins in early childhood, when nearly all available footwear painlessly squeezes the toes into a position that is narrower than the ball of the foot. The current foot measuring system–the Brannock device–coupled with how footwear is manufactured to be widest at the balls of the feet, co-conspire to guarantee that the child’s toes cannot spread wider than the balls of their feet. This unnatural position persists for most of their waking hours, and spans most of the child’s life. From there, nothing changes during adolescence, young adulthood or middle age, as most shoes purchased and worn will be widest at the balls of the feet.


It’s no surprise then, that a lot of people are seeking advice on how to manage their painful bunion deformity, because nobody taught them the principles of prevention early in life. This has to change!

Steps for bunion prevention:

1). The most important thing to understand is that human feet are naturally widest at the ends of the toes, not at the balls of the feet. Observing the feet of any baby can confirm this valuable observation.

2). Most footwear is sized and manufactured to be widest at the balls of the feet (not just fashion footwear). See our approved footwear list for shoes that will enable prevention of a bunion deformity.

3). If you employ the shoe liner/sock liner test, you will be able to see how the shape of the toe box influences the natural shape of your feet.

4). People who develop bunions have spent most of their lives wearing footwear that is widest at the balls of their feet, instead of the ends of their toes, so prevention of a bunion requires an individual to wear footwear that is widest at the ends of the toes for most of their lives. This is rare in most industrialized societies, which is why bunions are common here and not so common in undeveloped parts of the world where barefoot and minimal footwear are typical.

Conclusion: Bunions are preventable. Prevention begins with early caregivers who have a proper understanding of natural foot alignment, and the ability to secure footwear that respects natural foot shape. This footwear should be chosen based on the sock liner/shoe liner test, and these principles must be employed in most footwear choices over the course of an individual’s life to prevent the potential development of a bunion deformity. Prevention is the best medicine!

Coming up – Part 3 – Bunion Reversal.

12 thoughts on “The Hereditary Bunion Myth: Part II of III | By Dr. Ray McClanahan, DPM”

  1. looking forward for part 3!
    Already having a bunion and a hallux big toe, walking barefoot since one year, wearing flat and flexibele barefoot shoes when necessary, Wearing correct toes since yesterday and dreaming of getting rid of my bunion…!!!!

  2. I’m not leaving this comment to argue a point with anyone.
    I am sharing my experience as someone who has had and does have relatively flat feet and yes, a bunion of the left big toe. I cannot speak intelligently on how perfect my feet were as a baby, any more than I can speak intelligently about why our bodies change over the course of time, in nothing else, because our bodies are plastic.
    My left foot, with the bunion, was never shaped as normally as the right one.
    Did it start out, as you say, normal, as all baby feet are, or, I would say, should be?
    Impossible to tell and I do know I started to notice the difference in shape, movement, or lack there-of , at pretty young age.
    It wasn’t until I hurt both knees playing high school football that I really started to notice how plastic my body was.
    I didn’t know about CorrectToes then, they probably were not around since I’m got a few more years on me than Dr McClanhan.
    I tried Rolfing out of desperation.
    Living in Indiana, very little was known about anything ‘alternative.’
    I have also had over 200 Rolfing sessions over the course of the last 25 years.
    I’m not a body worker, nor am I composing this reply to sing the praises of any particular type.
    Before I proceed any further, I would like to say I am, at least, grateful for the opportunity to try something other than surgery to help permanently correct a life -long bunion issue.
    From my over 30 years, if nothing else, as a well educated, body work guinea pig, I have found there is no magic bullet for preventing, or re-aligning the human body of which the feet are the main platform of stable body support.
    Part of me knows that Dr. McClanhan has a product to market, a well though-out name that helps with brand recognition and he probably gets some kind of affiliate fee for recommending CorrectToes approved shoes.
    I’m grateful for just finding out about CorrectToes, whether they work in the long term to help solve my bunion issue or not.
    At the moment, I have put foot surgery on hold while giving the ‘CorrectToes’ system a fair trial.
    I have been told by the Rolfer acquaintance of mine who introduced me to CorrectToes, that it might take a couple of years to experience any benefit.
    At the moment I am wearing them every day with more foot-friendly footwear.
    To finalize, based on decades of past experience and the knowledge that genetics can play a part in how conditions of the feet can begin, get better or worsen over the course of time, I have my doubts that CorrectToes alone and worn with proper footwear will completely,’cure’ my bunion problem without some further, specialized body work, at the least, in the lower leg area and both feet.
    There is a saying, ‘There is never an end to getting well.’
    I would like to offer my feet or foot as a long term example, since I haven’t seen any yet, of what a strictly adhered to, CorrectToes program will really do as far as correcting a pretty severe bunion issue without undergoing surgery.
    If nothing else, i appreciate the opportunity to offer a reply.
    It’s not something I usually feel is worth my time.
    Gary McCarthy

    1. Thank you for sharing Gary! It’s important to recognize that every person’s experience is different and unique. We hope Correct Toes can help prevent you from needing surgery, however if you do take a surgical route we hope that CTs and a natural foot health approach can be useful in the recovery/rehab process post-surgery. Please let us know how things progress for you!

  3. As an add-on to my last reply.
    It’s great to see bunion free, nicely arched feet and it would be nice to see some before and after pictures and testimonials of toes becoming more normal and user friendly.
    That’s the proof of a product and reputation that has earned a truly positive review.
    And, to repeat, I appreciate the information received, I always learn something interesting.
    Gary McCarthy

  4. My bunion is pretty severe and I have the tailor’s bunion as well. I’ve been wearing correct toes since mid-June and I LOVE them! My toes are straightening out; there is even a bit of space between my big and second toes. My back is happier too!
    Also just a mention for the Correct Toes customer service; it’s top notch!

  5. After having moderate bunions at a young age and finally noticing how they were causing me foot pain underneath my big toes during daily activities I knew I had to do something. I have a job where I am constantly standing so this is where I really noticed the pain at its worst. I purchased correct toes 2 months ago and wear them every single day from morning to night taking them off when I sleep. Let me tell you that my feet have not been in pain since. ZERO bunion pain and I am noticing my toes slowly beginning to spread. I hope someone from correct toes sees this reply and knows how much they’ve helped me. I am also taking pictures of my journey, thank you very much!

    1. Thank you for sharing Vicky! We hope you continue to see improvements on your feet. Feel free to share your photos as you document your journey with Correct Toes.

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