Metatarsalgia – a big word that sounds just as painful as it really is. Anyone that suffers from this condition will tell you that the cumbersome pain that comes with it can easily make an enjoyable activity such as walking and running a complete nightmare.
When you enjoy running and are a naturally more athletically inclined person, this pain can be heartbreaking to endure.
Metatarsalgia is a condition in which the ball of the foot becomes inflamed. It’s most seen in those that frequently exercise, especially in activities such as running. Pain can be aggravated by running or even walking, which can make it a very debilitating condition that impacts daily activities.
Over time, the condition can become worse if not treated. Not pleasant!
Though often metatarsalgia can come in addition to an already existing condition, the chances of suffering with it in the first place can be reduced by wearing the correct footwear. With the right shoes and symptom relief, metatarsalgia doesn’t have to run your life anymore.
How Can Metatarsalgia Shoes and Insoles Help Me?
Metatarsalgia can be caused by several different things, some of which are:
- Over pronation
- Poorly fitting footwear
- High impact, repetitive stress on the feet
Shoes and insoles designed to help alleviate symptoms are worth looking out for with these causes in mind. Footwear that provides extra support and cushioning are essential, especially ones with additional support for the arch of the foot.
Runners are particularly at risk as the activity involves a lot of high impact, repetitive stress on the feet, so it’s also essential to consider shoes with high shock absorbency that protect your feet from the impact from the floor while running.
If you suffer from metatarsalgia, it’s worth your time to speak with an orthopaedic doctor to help understand what your feet in particular need.
As a rule, some shoes are better than others for sufferers of metatarsalgia than others.
ASICS Gel-Venture 5 Women’s Running Shoes
- Rearfoot GEL Cushioning System: Attenuates shock during impact phase and allows for a smooth transition to midstance.
- Removable Sockliner: A sockliner which can be removed to accommodate a medical orthotic.
- Trail Specific Outsole: Reversed lugs provide uphill and downhill traction on all types of terrain.
- AHAR Outsole: Acronym for ASICS High Abrasion Rubber. Placed in critical areas of the outsole for exceptional durability.
- High-abrasion rubber
The Asics brand is well known to runners and for a good reason. This brand’s reputation is hinged upon good quality shoes, and it is a reputation that is built on over 70 years of experience.
That alone is enough reason to trust that this shoe is the right choice, but the Gel-Venture 5 Women’s Running Shoe is designed to be the ideal standard for sufferers of metatarsalgia. It provides a smooth-running experience by incorporating a trail-specific outsole and an upper unit that absorbs shock.
Because of this, the shoe is suitable for a variety of terrains – many users reported that this shoe is even great for hiking, making it a great all-around sneaker for everyday use in addition to running.
The only thing not recommended is running in the rain – these shoes are not waterproof!
The gel cushioning system used in this shoe ensures that your feet get the ultimate comfort and even includes a removable sock liner so you can insert your own custom orthotics if you have them.
The mesh on the midsole is also tightly woven, ensuring integrity. The midsole is EVA modelled which helps to ensure balance in the feet. The shoe is lightweight, ideal for metatarsalgia sufferers and the shoes are well ventilated and breathable. The shoes also reportedly have a very roomy toe box, so you don’t need to worry about any extra strain on your toes.
The shoes come in a variety of color choices that are sure to impress and make the wearer’s personality shine through. Though, the range doesn’t include many neutrals for those who don’t want a flashier looking shoe and just want something classic. Thankfully though, this shoe is not aesthetically pleasing without substance, as it is still a high performance, excellent quality running shoe.
The price of these shoes highly varies depending on what color and pattern you choose, but they are mostly affordable, which is a plus for those who are on a budget.
- Great stability
- Detachable sock liner
- Variety of colors and designs
- Roomy toe box
- Not waterproof
- Not many neutral colors
Hoka One One Bondi 5 Men’s Running Shoes
Making massive strides in the running shoe market, the Hoka brand is definitely one worth paying attention to.
Also a fantastic shoe for conditions like plantar fasciitis, the Hoka One One Bondi 5 is a good shoe for comfort while running due to its use of advanced compression properties. Not only that, but you don’t need to be a seasoned runner to reap the benefits of these spectacular running shoes – they are also ideal for people just getting into running.
The Hoka One One Bondi 5 Men’s Running Shoes have been praised by reviewers as being comfortable even after extended amounts of time on your feet, and also work excellently on narrow feet. The shoes are snug but not tight, and help people who overpronate; a considerable advantage for sufferers of metatarsalgia as it alleviates pressure from the arch of the foot.
The hard rocker sole and midsole are exceptionally well cushioned, which avoid extra stress being added onto the foot.
They also don’t require a long break-in period, so they can be worn straight out of the box with little problems. The only thing concerning fit that incited any trouble was that the sizing was slightly different than their advertised sizing, though this is likely due to the narrower fit.
There are a few color variants for this shoe so there are plenty of choices, including some more neutral tones. It looks like a traditional running shoe but has all the technology of modern running shoes. These shoes are slightly heavy at 10 ounces, but they don’t feel like they’re weighing you down too much when you hit the trails.
These shoes are not for people on a budget, coming in as one of the most highly priced pair of shoes in this list. That does not mean they are not worth the price tag, but it’s something to be mindful of when assessing which shoes are best for you.
- Good for those who overpronate
- Good for narrow feet
- Traditional Look
- Ideal for beginners
- Short break in period
- Sizing slightly off
Brooks Men’s Ghost 11 Running Shoes
- SHOE SIZE: "D" = Medium width, "EE" = Wide width
- FOOT SUPPORT: Ideal for runners with a medium to high arch looking for neutral support.
- BALANCED, SOFT CUSHIONING: BioMoGo DNA and DNA LOFT cushioning work together to provide a just-right softness underfoot without losing responsiveness and durability—yet it feels lighter than ever.
- SMOOTH, STABLE RIDE: The Segmented Crash Pad is designed to adapt to each foot fall, so no matter how your foot lands, you’ll enjoy the smoothest ride possible.
- SOFT, SECURE FIT: The newly engineered mesh upper practically disappears on foot with strategically placed stretch and structure where you need it most.
If you want a smooth, stable ride that doesn’t cause your feet hell, the Brooks Men’s Ghost 11 Running shoes are a strong contender.
They’re slightly heavier than some of the other options on this list, yet they provide the necessary support and don’t weigh down your feet. This is a dynamic shoe that accommodates your foot as you run with ultra-comfort and shock absorbency, so your feet don’t feel like they’re landing on Lego bricks when you run.
The design is easy on the eye – particularly of note is the black/silver/orange version which is extremely eye-catching with its luminous orange color. Slightly more original is the black/green/pop art version which incorporates the pop art movement style to make a real fashion statement. These shoes scream ‘look at me’ and boy will they get your attention!
The shoe is classed as a ‘neutral’ type, so it’s designed for those higher arches. The outsole is slightly thicker than the average, providing a little extra cushioning through the forefoot. The thicker outsole is also particularly helpful for heel strikers.
The upper is secure, despite not being particularly high. The toes have also got plenty of room for movement, so you can give them a good old stretch out if you fancy it!
It’s a bit pricey, but it’s a good quality shoe if you’re willing to splash the cash.
- Designed for higher arches
- Good for heel strikers
- Spacious toe box
- Flashy designs
Altra Men’s Torin 3 Athletic Shoe
- DESIGNED TO IMPROVE: Natural Foot Positioning, Toe Splay, Comfort
- PLATFORM: Fully cushioned Zero Drop platform with FootShape toe box. CUSHIONING: Medium. STACK HEIGHT: 28mm. LAST: PFS2-M.
- MIDSOLE: EVA with A-Bound top layer and InnerFlex. OUTSOLE: FootPod outsole. INSOLE: 6mm Contour Footbed. UPPER: Quick-Dry Air Mesh.
- OTHER FEATURES: Natural Ride System.
- IDEAL USES: Running, Walking, Fitness, Cross-Training. WEIGHT: 8.4oz./238g.
Though this shoe is mainly for the men, the Altra Torin 3 range also has a women’s version that’s specifically catered to a woman’s unique foot shape.
The shoe is a Zero Drop, which means that the heel and the toes are at the same height off the ground to each other, providing better posture than a shoe with more of a ‘heel’. It’s also ideal for those with under pronation.
Due to the zero drop however, if you are used to running shoes with more of a heel, you should try to gradually get used to them by slowly increasing the amount of time you run while wearing them.
The Altra Men’s Torin 3 Athletic Shoe is quite limited on color options, but the choices it does have are quite pleasing to look at. They don’t seem to have much personality beyond that though, but sometimes it’s worth compromising on looks for a shoe that will support you, especially when you suffer from metatarsalgia.
This shoe is especially light weight, which is perfect for sufferers of metatarsalgia, and its well cushioned – it’s recommended to be used on hard surfaces as it’s got fantastic compression. The shoe has incredible breathability due to its fabricated quick air-dry mesh.
It’s got a large toe box, and it’s a massive improvement on its previous iterations on fit too – it’s not too tight, and not too loose. As Goldilocks would say, ‘just right!’
This shoe is around average in price and is highly comfortable and responsive so definitely worth a try!
- Zero Drop technology encourages good posture
- Good for underpronation
- Spacious toe box
- Good breathability
- Lackluster appearance
Saucony Zealot ISO Men’s Running Shoe
- Neutral cushion trainer featuring logo lace cage and supportive, customized fit
- 4mm heel-to-toe offset
- PWRGRID+ midsole cushioning
- ISOFIT floating support cage
- Weight: 8.3 oz
The Saucony Zealot ISO Men’s Running Shoe is ‘engineered to make you want to run,’ and it definitely lives up to that sentiment. This lightweight running shoe is an effortless ride, incorporating PWRGRID+ Cushioning for that extra pillowy softness with every stride.
The shoe uses ISOFIT Upper technology that allows the shoe to adapt to the shape of your foot, the size and the movement, making it ideal for any runner. Furthermore, this makes it perfect for the runner with metatarsalgia, as it adapts to those extra at-risk sufferer’s feet.
They have a wide toe box, and with the shoe’s Tri Flex technology your toes can flex evenly, and many users have reported that this shoe does wonders for their high arches. The one thing to look out for in the upper is the tongue, which can bunch up and make the shoe feel tighter.
This shoe is more recommended for the distance runner rather than the trail runner. With a 4mm heel to toe drop, this shoe also doesn’t have a massive heel, so the foot shape stays even, much like with the Altra mentioned above.
The shoe has two vibrant variants, vizi orange/blue/citron and the amusingly named ‘slime’ version. It’s not got many options as far as aesthetics is concerned, but what it does have it makes up for in character.
- Isofit upper technology adapts to the foot shape
- Low heel to toe drop
- PWRGRID+ Cushioning for extra comfort
- Vibrant design
- Tongue can be an issue for tighter fits
- Color options limited
Brooks Men’s Adrenaline GTS 19 Running Shoe
- SHOE SIZE: "D" = Medium width, "EE" = Wide width, "B" = Narrow width, "EEEE" = Extra wide width
- FOOT SUPPORT: Ideal for runners with all arches looking for support. Our new Guiderail Support System focuses beyond the feet to the most injury-prone part of a runner’s body: the knees. GuideRails keep you moving comfortably by keeping excess movement in check.
- CUSHIONED FEEL: Soft and protective, these shoes provide just the right amount of cushion in each step to let you float through your run, walk and everyday life.
- BALANCED, SOFT CUSHIONING: BioMoGo DNA and DNA LOFT cushioning work together to provide a just-right softness underfoot without losing responsiveness and durability—yet it feels lighter than ever.
- MODERNIZED FIT: Engineered mesh and the 3D Fit Print upper provide the structure and proven fit of this Go-To Shoe with a streamlined look.
Fun fact: ‘GTS’ actually stands for ‘Go-To Shoe.’ It has a nice ring to it – and thankfully, that’s not the only great thing about this shoe. This shoe is perfect for the runner that needs the extra support, whether you’re running around your local neighborhood or you’re running a marathon.
With the addition of the DNA Loft, the Brooks Men’s Adrenaline GTS 19 Running Shoe is extra comfortable and provides a smooth transition while running. The shoe also offers a bouncy landing with the extra air added.
The shoes have a good grip, making them an excellent choice for a range of terrains. They are a medium softness in the cushioning, so they’re not too firm but not too soft either, providing great support for the feet.
One of this shoe’s main selling points is its use of ‘guide rails.’ This means that the shoe has a support system inside the shoe designed to influence your foot to move authentically. The guide rails only activate when your feet need them to, and these add to the arch support. They are also breathable due to the shoe’s engineered mesh.
The shoe is a little heavier than some of the others on this list though, so for the particularly picky runners out there you may be dubious initially, but it’s still a great ride and it doesn’t feel like you’re being weighed down.
There are a variety of color options for this shoe, each with a unique look. In this regard though, the only potential downside is that most of the color options are on the darker end of the spectrum. There aren’t many light options to choose from, but there are a few neutrals so they should be able to match with most outfit combinations if you’re fashion-conscious.
- DNA loft for extra comfort
- Guide rail support system encourages natural movement
- Good all-around
- d running shoe for different terrains
- Color options not varied
- On the heavier end of the spectrum
Saucony Women’s Kinvara 7 Running Shoe
- Natural-series running shoe featuring sweeping lace-keeper overlay with multi-knit mesh
- 4 mm heel-to-toe offset
- EVERUN midsole cushioning
- Removable insole
- Flexible IBR+ outsole with XT-900 carbon rubber
Making another appearance on this list, Saucony is known for having a variety of great running shoes – we couldn’t resist showing them off again!
This version also has a removable insole so you can insert your own custom orthotics. With a 4mm heel to toe offset, the shoe has a minimal drop. This shoe is responsive and has great shock absorbency and is very durable even following lots of wear and tear.
The Saucony Women’s Kinvara 7 Running Shoe is a lightweight shoe with a great cushioning system, all combining to create a very responsive, enjoyable ride. This shoe is slightly firmer than usual though, so if you aren’t fond of a firmer shoe, you may be better suited to some of the other options on this list.
The shoe is true to size, so no need to worry that the size won’t fit without trying it on in-store. The shoe has impeccable performance
e and is a decent all-around choice on a variety of terrains and paces. The Pro-Lock lacing system can also be quite restrictive, so may not be the best choice for runners with wider feet or lower arches.
The Kinvara has a show-stopping variety of colors to choose from, particularly the teal/citron edition which looks incredible with its ombre upper. They are also very friendly on the wallet, so if you’re looking for a slightly cheaper option the Saucony Women’s Kinvara 7 Running Shoes are worth a try!
- Eye catching design and colors
- True to size
- Pro-lock lacing system restrictive
New Balance Men’s 990v4 Running Shoe
The New Balance Men’s 990v4 Running Shoe is another great option to consider if you suffer with metatarsalgia.
They come in a terrific range of sizes, meaning they’re a good option for all ages. It’s designed to be used for both running and for everyday activities such as walking your dog around the block, so it’s a casual shoe as well as athletic.
This shoe has a stable outsole design and is very breathable. It’s also very reflective for night time and evening running, allowing you to be seen easily by motorists. It’s a little bulky and not the most lightweight shoe out there, so it may feel a little heavier than some of the other shoes on this list.
It’s also got a high heel to toe drop at 12mm. The flexibility of the mid is reduced too, which also means the shoes offer extra protection as they absorb shock well. This shoe is also great for wider feet due to the variety of sizes.
You have almost every color of the rainbow at your disposal with this shoe – ranging anywhere from hot pink to neutral tones, there’s something in there for everyone. They match with several outfits for this reason, and so are very versatile from a fashion perspective.
The shoe does much better aesthetically when it’s only using one color, though, as with the combined color swatches it looks a little awkward. Despite the color, their appeal doesn’t lie in the aesthetics, rather they adopt more of the ‘it’s what’s inside that counts’ outlook. They may not be the most visually appealing, but their functionality more than makes up for that.
This shoe is definitely not one for if you’re on a budget, ranking as one of the most expensive on this list.
- Durable upper and outsole
- Plenty of color options
- Fit wider feet
- Not the most visually appealing
A Buyers Guide for Runners That Suffer with Metatarsalgia
Causes and Risk Factors of metatarsalgia
Several factors can make you more at risk for metatarsalgia. As previously mentioned, athletes and those who enjoy high impact sports such as running are particularly at risk due to the strain on the feet.
High impact activity can be a big risk for metatarsalgia. This risk is heightened if you have ill-fitting footwear, or footwear that contorts the feet.
The shape of your feet can also determine whether you’re more at risk of suffering with metatarsalgia. Having a higher arch, for example, can put extra strain on the metatarsals, which are part of the bones in the mid-foot. If you have high arches you will need a shoe with better arch support. You are also more at risk if you have a second toe that’s longer than the big toe.
Foot Deformities can come as a result of often wearing shoes that misshape the foot. This includes heels and shoes that are too small. This is another possible risk of metatarsalgia. In addition, having a hammertoe which is when your toe curls downwards and having bunions, which are small growths, can also increase the risk.
Ill-fitting footwear, as previously mentioned, doesn’t help to alleviate the risk of metatarsalgia – shoes such as heels and shoes with a small toe box are ones to look out for. In addition, avoid shoes without adequate support and padding. Not only do these shoes contribute to metatarsalgia, but they’re also not very comfortable either.
Excess weight is a risk factor. As most of your body’s weight puts pressure on the forefoot, this adds extra strain to the metatarsals. Losing weight can often help reduce this risk.
Breaks and fractures in themetatarsals can change the way you put weight on your foot, and so can contribute to metatarsalgia.
Morton’s Neuroma. This is a non-cancerous inflammatory growth that exhibits symptoms similar to metatarsalgia due to the growth’s position between the 3rd and 4th metatarsals.
Illnesses that cause the fatty pad to thin, such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout. This risk can also increase with age.
Symptoms of Metatarsalgia
Metatarsalgia is characterized as pain in the ball of the foot. This can vary from mild to severe pain, and treatment can often depend on the severity of the symptoms. Some other symptoms include
- A sharp aching or burning pain in the ball of the foot
- Worsening pain when standing, running, flexing the feet or walking. Basically, anything that puts a strain on the foot. This usually improves after a period of rest.
- Numbness, tingling, or sharpness and shooting pain in the toes
- Feeling like there’s an object like a pebble in your shoe
Often, symptoms exhibit over several months rather than at once so you will need to keep an eye out for these symptoms over time.
Treatment of Metatarsalgia
To relieve symptoms, some temporary measures such as resting for a short time may be all you need. If you are experiencing the symptoms of metatarsalgia, some rest to take the strain off the feet is a good place to start.
More high impact activities may need to be temporarily avoided, but you can still participate in lower impact activities such as swimming.
Long term, there are a few medical and a few home brew remedies you can try.
Applying ice to the affected area can also help. Apply the ice for about 20 minutes at a time at several points during the day. Wrap the ice in a thin towel to protect the feet. You can use ice or a bag of frozen vegetables, such as peas.
You can also take some symptom relief such as ibuprofen to help reduce the amount of pain. Be sure to read the intake instructions before taking any anti-inflammatories.
When experiencing symptoms, avoid wearing heels and any shoes that are too tight or too loose. Narrow or pointed shoes do not give the toes much room to move and put the metatarsals into an unnatural shape causing more risk of symptoms flaring up. It also causes other body parts to pick up the slack due to unevenly proportioned body weight.
You may also consider wearing arch supports – these can be bought over the counter or can be custom fitted.
There is also surgery available for metatarsalgia. This is usually reserved for people whose metatarsalgia symptoms are severe and incredibly debilitating.
Massages – these can help with the circulation of blood in your feet and relax the foot muscles. To massage your own feet, simply place your hands on either side of your foot and stretch the outer portions to place pressure on the foot.
Some runners have found that taping the sore ball and arch can help to alleviate soreness.
The amount of time it can take for metatarsalgia to heal depends on a few factors, such as age, activity levels, and if you’ve experienced any previous foot injuries. The mildest pain should recover shortly such as within a few weeks, whereas severe pain will take longer.
Left untreated, metatarsalgia can lead to pain in other parts of the body. If you experience symptoms for more than a few days, it is recommended that you visit your doctor for a proper diagnosis and medical treatment.
How do I find the best Metatarsalgia Shoes?
There are numerous things to consider when choosing shoes and insoles for metatarsalgia, and it can often depend on your lifestyle choices. Above all else, the main thing you need to be looking for when you suffer from metatarsalgia is comfort. If that isn’t what you’re looking for and you get a pair of shoes that hurt your feet further, you’re opening yourself up to a whole range of extra pain. There are some things to look for when selecting a shoe appropriate for your feet when you suffer from metatarsalgia.
Shape and Size
It’s especially important when selecting a pair of running shoes for metatarsalgia that your shoes fit appropriately. You will need a shoe with a wide enough toe box that gives your feet wiggle room. With a wider toe box, you will also have room to insert customer orthotics that may have been prescribed to you by a doctor or podiatrist. The shoes should also not be too tight as this can exacerbate symptoms. The shoe sound fit snugly but not too tight.
It’s recommended to try new shoes towards the end of the day, as it is at this point in the day that the feet naturally swell and as such, are at their largest.
You should choose a shoe with a sole that is thicker and supportive, that offers plenty of shock absorbency. You should also select a stiffer sole so that your foot is fully supported. Rocker soles are recommended, as these reduce stress on the ball of the foot. Avoid heeled shoes when possible.
The insole design can obviously impact the overall comfort of the design, so it’s vital to consider the design of the insole when buying a new pair of running shoes for metatarsalgia. Consider a shoe with an insole with shock absorbing capabilities. It should be comfortable and provide support for the arches of the foot. It also helps to look for a shoe with extra padding at the ball of the foot. It should be comfortable, but also stiff enough to provide the proper support.
A shoe with lower weight is recommended for sufferers of metatarsalgia. Heavier shoes put extra strain on the feet, which should be avoided not only for running shoes in general but especially for metatarsalgia. Lighter shoes are also much better for runners. Your running shoes should not feel like they are dragging you down and should instead feel like a smooth and comfortable ride. Lightweight shoes are also usually more breathable due to their mesh materials and this prevents harmful bacteria getting into the shoe – this ensures longer durability as the shoe is less likely to be damaged from harmful substances penetrating the shoe.
Of course, when selecting any footwear, it’s crucial to choose a shoe that will last. Even more so with metatarsalgia, you’re looking at shoes that are much more expensive potentially than your average running shoe so they need to stand the test of time. Furthermore, a shoe that breaks easily will not do your feet any favors and if anything will contribute to the symptoms. You will need to ensure that the shoe also matches your local climate – if you often run in areas where it rains or if it’s quite boggy, you need to find a shoe that’s waterproof for example.
It’s not just about how long the shoe will last, though – you will need to consider the shoe’s other properties. Is the shoe too weak, or is it too soft to provide proper support? Too firm so that it doesn’t provide enough comfort? Consider whether the footbeds stay in place inside the shoe after a little wear and tear – nobody wants to spend so much money on a shoe for it to just fall apart five minutes later.
It’s also worth considering a trusted brand that have a good reputation. With that in mind though, don’t place everything on brand name alone – there are some running shoes out there of high caliber that don’t have a well-known brand name attached to them. While putting together this guide, we’ve also considered price. There are plenty of great running shoes out there for metatarsalgia that don’t require breaking the bank. With that being said, sometimes it’s worth spending that little bit extra for a good quality shoe that you can trust.
Dual-density gel technology is also an excellent option to try or an insole with tiny pockets of air that help to absorb impact.