How Untreated Bunions Can Affect Your Athletic Performance

Bunions are an incredibly common foot condition, as millions of Americans are dealing with some degree of bunion formation. Because bunions are oftentimes caused or worsened by ill-fitting shoes, it’s not uncommon for athletes to develop bunions due to the fact that they may be squeezing their feet into a tight dance shoe or soccer cleat. Not only can sports lead to bunion onset, but the presence of a bunion can also negatively affect your sports performance. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at how untreated bunions can make you a worse athlete.

Bunions And Their Impact On Sports Performance

Bunions tend to develop slowly over time, so you’re not going to develop a bunion after playing in an intense soccer tournament over the weekend or after running a 10K Turkey Trot. However, an untreated bunion can cause major issues for your ability to perform these athletic activities to the best of your abilities, which is why it’s so important to proactively treat a bunion. Here’s a look at some of the ways that untreated bunions can affect your athletic performance.

  • Pain – Bunions can range from mildly uncomfortable to severely painful, and since we rely on our feet for quick movements or to handle the stress of our body during the activating, pain can certainly impact your performance. Pain can slow you down and make it harder for you to compete to the best of your abilities. Untreated bunions only tend to get more painful as the joint dysfunction progresses.
  • Referred Injuries – You may not even be aware of it, but if your bunion is uncomfortable, you may inherently change how you run, jump or land on your feet during athletic activities. If you’re altering your gait or your running form to protect your foot, it will change how stress is dispersed through your body. This can increase the amount of strain on your ankle, knee or hip joints, putting them at greater risk for injury or expediting natural degeneration. It’s certainly possible for an untreated bunion to lead to an ankle or knee injury.
  • Severe Bunions Require More Time Away To Treat – No athlete wants to be sidelined by injury, but the longer you try to push through the bunion, the longer treatment will likely take when you eventually decide to confront the problem. You may be able to effectively manage a bunion with conservative treatment and a few weeks of tweaking your exercise routine. However, if you ignore a bunion until the only treatment option is surgery, you may not be able to play sports or go for a run for many months. If you want to miss the least amount of time from your sport, confront your bunion when the problem is in its infancy.
  • Medication Mismanagement – Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory and pain relief medications can help to combat some of the discomfort caused by a bunion, but if you’re relying on these passive options just so you can make it through another game or run, you’re not doing right by your body. Overconsumption of OTC medications can cause problems for organs like your kidneys and stomach, and stronger pain relievers can actually put you at risk for dependence and addiction. Medication should be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, not as a way to grit through another game or practice.

Don’t let a bunion compromise your game. Instead, connect with a foot specialist who can provide the individualized care you need to help you overcome your bunion and get back to peak performance. For more information, or for help with a different foot and ankle issue, reach out to Dr. McDonald and his team today at (860) 244-8889.

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