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Best Tailor's Bunion Exercises

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By Janik Sundstrom
Siphokazi Mdidimba
Edited by Siphokazi Mdidimba

Updated January 30, 2024.

Person holding their pinky toe

A Tailor’s bunion is a smaller variation of a bunion that occurs in the fifth metatarsal or smallest toe of the foot. This is different from a bunion which usually occurs at the base of the big toe. Over time, the alignment of the small toe starts to change and a bump may occur. In most cases, this bump is not painful and does not pose a threat to your overall health. Only in severe cases will this condition result in pain. 

This condition is caused by altered foot mechanics or due to ill-fitting shoes. Other causes of Tailor’s bunions include ligament laxity, arthritis, and walking on the outer edge of the foot, as seen in a foot with a high arch. Conservative management strategies are commonly used to prevent bunions from worsening and manage this condition safely and cost-effectively. Tailor's bunions can make wearing shoes feel uncomfortable and in severe cases, can hinder mobility.

The symptoms of Tailors bunions:

  • Misalignment of the smallest toe (5th metatarsal).
  • Pain in the area.
  • Redness.
  • Swelling around the base of the small toe.
  • Inability to bear weight.
  • Pain when wearing tight shoes.

» Explore insole varieties to help prevent flat feet and Tailor's bunions

Can Exercise Help Tailor's Bunions?

In the majority of cases, exercises can be used to manage Tailor's bunions. The exercises for bunions aim to strengthen the intrinsic muscles of the foot. Strengthening the muscles of the foot can aid in restoring the normal biomechanics of the feet during daily activity or while exercising.

Exercises may not entirely cure your Tailor’s bunions, but may greatly reduce your chances of them getting progressively worse. The intrinsic muscles of the feet will aid the small toe in maintaining its alignment when weight is placed onto the forefoot. Strengthening these can greatly improve lower leg mechanics and can prevent pain from arising in other areas of the body.

Exercises to Treat Tailor’s Bunions

Exercises can be done daily to aid in treating your Tailor’s bunion and prevent it from worsening in the future. The exercises can be done once or twice a day, four to five times a week. Here are some exercises that you can do:

  1. Toe exercises Sitting with the legs outstretched in front of you and your toes facing upward, attempting to spread the toes and hold for 15 seconds, then relax. Repeat several times on each foot. 
  2. Toe curls Start sitting with the legs outstretched in front of you. Curl the toes, hold for 1 second and relax. Repeat several times on both feet. This exercise can be done in a sitting position, with your feet placed on a towel. Attempt to pull the towel backward with your toes by curling them backward.
  3. Foot stretch Sitting, cross your leg over the other by placing your foot on the opposite knee. Apply a gentle stretch backward to the forefoot with your hand. You should feel the stretch in the sole of your foot. Hold for 15-20 seconds and release. Repeat 3 times per foot approximately 2-3 times a day.

You can also stretch the calf muscle to stretch the posterior structures of the foot that contribute to conditions such as plantar fasciitis, flat feet, or general biomechanics alignment issues in the foot.

Can Exercise Prevent Tailor's Bunions?

Though fixing bunions without surgery is a conservation correcting method, exercise can help prevent bunions from developing and getting progressively worse. It may, however, may not prevent you from developing them altogether.

Alongside exercise, changing the type of shoes you are wearing may help you relieve the symptoms related to this condition. Shoes that are wider and have sufficient space on the outer side of the foot area will help limit the progression of this condition.

Orthotics for bunions can also be used to redistribute the weight throughout the entirety of the forefoot and away from the outer side of the foot, where the Tailor’s bunion is located. Ice can be used to reduce swelling and inflammation in the area. Apply for 15-20 minutes, and can be applied several times throughout the day as pain determines.

For more information on the different types of orthotics available, take a look at our custom orthotics.

When to See a Doctor for Tailor's Bunions

It is advised that you seek advice from a medical practitioner if your small toe is causing high levels of pain and discomfort while walking or going about your daily activities. Should the pain be at such a level that you are having trouble walking, medical advice should be sought regarding the management of this.

In severe cases where the bump is progressively getting larger, the doctor may suggest surgical intervention as an option, once conservative management therapies have been exhausted. This, however, may take some time to entirely recover from or may never recover.