"Tailor's bunion" - little toe pain when cycling (Content Warning: foot photo!)

After suffering a kind of persistent nagging discomfort around my right little toe, I did a bit of investigating. It seemed unlikely considering my overall slim build that I had wide feet, and a measurement confirmed this.

However I then looked at my feet and noticed that my little toe was sitting strangely - it was kind of curled inwards and on its side so that the nail was facing right rather than up. See hideous, disturbing, put-you-off-your-food photo for proof:

Apparently this might be what’s known as a “Tailor’s bunion”. But I can’t find much advice relating to cycling. I have custom-moulded insoles in my shoes from a bike fit, so seems unlikely they’d be the cause of it.

Anyone have a similar thing and managed to deal with it? Like I say, my feet aren’t remotely wide, so I want to avoid changing shoes to ones that might cause other fit problems (and anyway, my left food is wider and I don’t have discomfort there).

1 Like

I self-diagnosed with a Tailor’s bunion last spring, went to a podiatrist who confirmed my diagnosis. Mine is a bit more severe than yours and I do have wide feet.

Mine presented with pretty severe pain on longer rides - becoming unbearable after periods of increased volume.

After discussing my options (surgery - awful, very long recovery, finding wider shoes - none I could easily find, padding - protect the area and let the pain subside) we went with a padding option to see if it mitigated the pain. He ended up giving me something like the product I linked below. It basically solved all of my pain problems and now I always ride with one

Given the doctors office price compared to the Amazon price I went and found this online and have been buying replacements online ever since. Note that the link is for the actual item I am using for a Tailor’s Bunion - I put it on over my pinky toe instead of my big toe. I find it sturdier than the Tailor Bunion specific ones

Can get into more specifics of what he told me if you’re interested or send you a picture of my foot for comparison purposes

1 Like

I have the same, didn’t think that was a sign of a bunion. My feet are D, so pretty standard. Good to know, now I need to research.

I had a look on UK Amazon and couldn’t find the exact one, but found this which seems to combine the padding with a little toe separation and correction. Will give that a try, and look at Bunion Sleeve options similar to yours as well if it ends up feeling a bit flimsy.

When I joined this forum I never imagined that I would end up asking someone to DM me a picture of their feet, but yes please - go ahead, would be interesting to see.

The other question I’d have is - has the actual inward curl of the toe been corrected at all by wearing the sleeve, or is the treatment entirely just about protecting it?


1 Like

Yeah - I’ve lived with it for ages. I’d just started noticing lately that sometimes my right foot feels weird when I put a pair of socks on, and I was starting to get rough spots on my 4th toe where the pinkie was rubbing against it. It was only when I really looked at my toes that I noticed the difference between the two feet.

Both my feet are like that. I’ve had it since I was a kid, as long as I can remember. I never thought twice of it, but do have rubbing on the knuckle with “small” shoes like Giro.

I started with something similar to what you linked and it did not work for me. It wouldn’t stay in place and didn’t provide the padding where I needed it.

Per the doctor I saw there isn’t really a corrective way to deal with my issue. Doesn’t mean it won’t help yours, but based on what he saw on my x-rays the only corrective measure was surgery.

Also probably worth noting that I only experience any discomfort in cycling shoes - all other shoes are fine for me, very frustrating since its the cycling shoes that matter

Likewise never expected to be taking that photo and sending it to someone

I’ll say that I never experienced any pain or discomfort at all, didn’t even know I had a wonky foot until this started creeping in over last winter and then became progressively more and more painful. Doctor says its likely a progression that I’ve been experiencing my entire life and has finally reached a point where it affects my cycling shoes

Will definitely bear that in mind - will order the ones you’ve suggested if these aren’t up to it.

I think this is very likely the case with me too. I don’t feel pain in any other shoes, but I am starting to notice a sensation in my toes more often, not just when cycling. But it’s only in my cycling shoes where I get actual discomfort. I wonder if I’ve “caught” mine earlier on than yours, and that there is some possibility that corrective devices could help.

I recently was diagnosed with a tailor’s bunion as well. it has only seen a problem in the last few years, but structural problem have always been there.
I now am buying wide shoes, and for now have widened my cycling shoes by cutting a hole for my bunions. this made a huge change in comfort, and has pretty much resolved my issues on the bike. Next shoe purchases will be wide, however it’s hard to tell if they are wide enough when trying thing on, it takes hours for the pain to manifest itself.

1 Like

Yes, I saw people mentioning this as a solution. Also there’s this - a kind of pressure point shoe stretcher:

…but it’s fair to say that stretching, let alone cutting holes in, my brand new Giro Empires is going to be a last resort!

This got me thinking about how to widen my shoes as I suffer with corns due to tailors bunion caused by the old toe straps of years gone by. Anyway I used a shoe tree and used rugby studs to create the expansion needed as shown . It has worked a treat. To get the studs to stay in securely I carefully drilled and tapped the hole to take a 3mm thread , using a few holes to get the best position for the stud.

I also use Shimano shoes that have been heat moulded to my feet, and had to get my Off road shoes from Germany to get the wide fitting.


I had this exact problem…minus the nail thing. Try wearing your shoes around the house without the insoles, slipper tight not insanely tight. See if you get the same pain.

I ordered a bunch of shoes and wore them while just sitting at my desk. A few findings:

  1. My toe curled/overlapped even though I had plenty of room.
  2. My toe curled/overlapped even without the insoles in the shoe

Cycling shoes don’t have any padding in the shoe, particularly the tongue, and are highly contoured. This causes strange problems. I traced the problem back to the shoe actually squeezing the top of my foot against my arch oddly. This is what was causing my little toe to overlap. You gotta keep in mind that your tendons in your hands and feet have ties way upstream.
The solution was to get a larger shoe size so the arch was further forward. I didn’t need the toe room, I needed the arch and curves of the shoe in the right spot. Another solution might be one of the knit uppers like Giro, Fizik, and Trek offer. Maybe order a Trek knit shoe and try it while doing some desk work at home.

1 Like

Similar issues here since I started doing longer trainer rides during lockdown. I got g8 performance insoles, which have highly adjustable arch support. Front / back , left / right and size of arch are all adjustable. Also I’ve been using some athletic tape to secure my small toe to it’s neighbor.

1 Like

I’ve had a little toe with the same nail facing the wrong direction for years as you’ve shown. Two things I’d suggest…

  1. Buy shoes with separate closures for the upper and lower sections of the lacing. After a couple of hours, loosen the lower section a bunch. I have to do this for any ride over 8 hours.

  2. Relace your shoes and don’t put laces in the bottom 2 or 3 eyelets. This allows the shoe to be wider around the ball of the foot, but still secures the upper section. This is an old hiking shoe trick that long distance hikers do. It even works with single boa closure systems if you’re willing to open up the boa using the mini-tool.

Update: current situation is that things are a little better, if not completely fixed. After a lot of experimenting, I’ve found that simply putting a small piece of cotton wool underneath my 2 smallest toes before wriggling the sock into place has been the most effective thing. Feels odd briefly and then forget about it for the rest of the ride.

This is an interesting tip and might try it out for a turbo session on my Giro Empires and see how they feel. Cheers.

I’ve also diagnosed my left foot problem as Tailor’s Bunion. Mine manifests itself on the bottom of my foot near the base of my little toe. It’s like walking around with a ball bearing glued to the sole of your foot. My regular ride is a hybrid bike and thought maybe go with a larger surface pedal to better support the entire width of the foot. Also, if anyone’s opted for surgery I’d appreciate hearing the details and results. BTW, thanks to all for starting and supporting this thread topic.