CN Digital StudioPeople turn to yoga for all sorts of benefits-a strong core, a peaceful mind, and hot, limber instructors. But since I upped my practice to three times a week, I've noticed an unexpected perk: less-painful bunions. This particular foot problem has bothered me for years, despite my commitment to wearing supportive shoes and purchase of various embarrassing "aids" you find at Duane Reade. But on a recent walk-down a cobblestone street, no less-I realized the familiar pain wasn't there.
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I had a suspicion that all my stretching and exercise had something to do with it, so I asked Dr. Rock Positano, a nonsurgical foot specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, if yoga really can help bunions. "When you develop a bunion, the big toe is not functioning as well as it should. So other parts of the foot, like muscles, tendons, and ligaments, have to take up that slack," he says. "Yoga gives more strength and flexibility to the area around the bunion and takes some of the stress off the big toe, making the foot work more efficiently. Anything that gives the foot more stability and more flexibility is good for a bunion deformity because it allows other parts of the foot to pick up the slack for what the big toe is not doing." In other words, all the more reason to take a break from the tricky crane pose and work on humble toe-stretching in hero and downward-facing dog.
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