Ask the Expert: Which Yoga Poses Can Help Bunions?

Yoga can’t reverse bunions that have already formed—only surgery can—but practicing certain poses can slow their advancement.
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Yoga can’t reverse bunions that have already formed—only surgery can—but practicing certain poses can slow their advancement.
Root Chakra Feet in Grass Earth, feet in yoga

Answers to your questions about poses for foot pain, yoga must-reads, immune boosters, and more.

I have a painful bunion. Would any yoga poses help?

Yoga can’t reverse bunions that have already formed—only surgery can—but practicing certain poses can slow their advancement. A bunion forms because the first metatarsal bone in your foot (located near the base of your big toe) is hypermobile, or has too much range of motion. Over time, the joint linking the first metatarsal to the big toe can jam, making the metatarsal then deviate toward the body’s midline. This creates a bony hump at the big toe’s base, which may be painful and can lead to arthritis.

See also4 Ways to Build Hip Stability + Prevent Injury

To use yoga to slow the progression of bunions, practice any balancing pose in which the bunioned foot is grounded and the other foot is lifted, such as Tree Pose or Lord of the Dance Pose. This engages and strengthens the peroneal muscle of your standing leg that runs along the outside of your lower leg and tucks under the sole of your foot. The result is a grounding force, which helps to override any of the instabilities that may otherwise occur at the juncture of the big toe and the metatarsal bone and make the bunion worse.

See also4 Challenging Tree Pose Variations for Better Balance

--Robert Kornfeld, DPM
Owner, Holistic & Complementary Podiatric Medicine, New York City and Port Washington, New York

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