Our feet absorb a lot of impact on a daily basis. In fact, our feet can withstand 2–6 times our body weight from simply walking. It’s no wonder the balls of our feet can start to hurt!
Ball of foot pain conditions such as metatarsalgia—inflammation of the metatarsal bones on the foot—or sesamoiditis—irritation of the bones in the big toe—can develop with repeated high-impact activities or footwear without enough cushion or arch support.
The best shoes for metatarsalgia and other ball of foot pain conditions are shoes with metatarsal support, plenty of cushion, a wide toe box, and shock-absorption to keep your feet as healthy as possible.
Ball of foot pain can stem from a wide variety of foot conditions, including metatarsalgia—inflammation of the metatarsals, sesamoiditis—irritation of the bones in the ball of foot and big toe, or Morton’s neuroma—a nerve condition that affects the area between the third and fourth toes.
Metatarsalgia can develop due to various factors, including high-impact activities such as running or jumping, which put excessive strain on the metatarsal bones. Ill-fitting footwear, such as shoes with inadequate cushioning or narrow toe boxes, can also contribute to the development of metatarsalgia.
Additionally, foot deformities, such as high arches or hammertoes, can alter the distribution of weight on the feet, leading to increased pressure on the metatarsal region. By identifying the underlying causes of metatarsalgia, individuals can take proactive steps to prevent or manage this condition effectively.
While the exact cause of metatarsalgia is not always clear, there are a number of factors that can increase the risk of developing this condition. These include:
- Wearing high heels or ill-fitting shoesShoes that are too tight, too narrow, or that have high heels can put extra pressure on the ball of the foot, which can lead to pain and inflammation.Wearing high heels or ill-fitting shoes
- Not enough footwear cushionShoes that lack proper cushioning, especially in the ball of the foot area, can also increase the risk of metatarsalgia.Not enough footwear cushion
- High-impact sports or activitiesRunning, jumping, or other high-impact activities can put a lot of stress on the feet and increase the risk of metatarsalgia.High-impact sports or activities
- People with high arches or flat feetHaving high arches or flat feet can put extra pressure on the ball of the foot, which can lead to pain and inflammation.People with high arches or flat feet
- Foot conditions, including Morton’s neuroma, sesamoiditis, bunions, or hammertoesThese foot conditions can affect the mechanics of the foot and lead to metatarsalgia.Foot conditions, including Morton’s neuroma, sesamoiditis, bunions, or hammertoes
- Other medical conditions, including diabetes, arthritis, or neuropathyCertain medical conditions can affect the nerves and blood flow in the feet, which can increase the risk of metatarsalgia.Other medical conditions, including diabetes, arthritis, or neuropathy
Symptoms & Diagnosis
Symptoms of metatarsalgia include sharp pain, toe joint pain, feeling of a lump in your shoe, numbness or tingling in the toes, and pain on the top of the foot.
While visiting a doctor is the best way to diagnose and treat the condition, there are some conservative treatments that can be tried at home. In this section, we will focus on the symptoms of metatarsalgia.
- Sharp, aching pain in the ball of the foot: High levels of impact or excess pressure on the balls of the foot can cause symptoms of metatarsalgia, which is an inflammation of the metatarsals—the bones
just below the toes.
- Toe joint pain: When a bunion develops, you can experience an aching, stabbing pain in the big toe joint. Though bunions can be hereditary, they often get worse with consistent use of too-narrow or too-tight footwear.
- Feeling of a lump in your shoe: With Morton’s neuroma, you might feel a sensation of a pebble stuck under the ball of your foot. In this condition, the tissue around the nerves becomes inflamed and enlarged, often causing pain between under third and fourth toes.
- Numbness or tingling in the toes: Conditions that cause circulatory or nerve issues such as diabetes, neuropathy, and Morton’s neuroma can lead to loss of feeling or tingling in the toes.
- Top of foot pain: The top of the foot above the ball can experience pain from extensor tendonitis, bone stress fractures, or other injury.
Your doctor can provide the best pathway forward to diagnose and treat your condition. For a few tips on conservative treatments you can try at home, check out our metatarsalgia treatment section below.
Metatarsalgia Facts and Stats
- Women experience Morton’s neuroma 8–10 times more often than men and develop bunions 10 times more often.
- Metatarsalgia pain is typically an overuse injury and is common among athletes.
- In a survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association, 77% of the Americans surveyed suffered from foot problems or disorders.
- The best ball of foot pain shoes are those with plenty of cushion and a wide toe box for a comfortable fit.
When treating metatarsalgia pain, we recommend checking with your doctor who can formally assess your symptoms, perform any needed imaging tests, and offer a diagnosis and treatment plan. Full recovery of metatarsalgia may require up to 6–8 weeks.
One effective way to treat metatarsalgia symptoms without medical procedures or surgery is to wear well-fitting, comfortable metatarsalgia shoes.
We unpack a few additional conservative ball of foot and metatarsalgia treatment options below.
- Avoid high heelsSince high heels or too-tight footwear can cause or worsen pain on the balls of your feet, omitting this footwear from your wardrobe can help soothe and treat your symptoms.Avoid high heels
- Rest or ice when neededSince ball of foot pain and inflammation can flare up with high-impact activities, use the RICE method—rest, ice, compression, elevation—when experiencing pain, redness, or swelling after activity.Rest or ice when needed
- Modify exercise for low-impact activitiesIf you are active with weight-bearing or high-impact activities such as walking or jogging, consider modifying your exercise routine to practice low-impact activities such as swimming and biking.Modify exercise for low-impact activities
- Stretch your feetStretch your calves, roll out your plantar fascia, and stretch your feet by pulling back on your flexed foot with a towel.Stretch your feet
- Wear supportive footwear with a wide toe boxThe best shoes for metatarsalgia and other ball of foot pain are those that absorb shock, offer plenty of cushion, and provide room for your toes and metatarsals. Choose cushioned shoes with metatarsal support and a generous toe box to reduce pressure or pinching.Wear supportive footwear with a wide toe box
- Consider metatarsal padsFor additional cushion and comfort for the ball of your foot, consider adding a metatarsal pad inside your shoes.Consider metatarsal pads
Engaging in specific exercises and stretches can help strengthen the foot muscles, improve flexibility, and alleviate pain associated with metatarsalgia.
Remember to consult with a healthcare professional or a physical therapist before starting any new exercise routine, especially if you are experiencing pain or discomfort.
- Toe curlsSit on a chair and place a towel on the floor in front of you. Scrunch the towel toward you using your toes, then release. Repeat this exercise for about 10-15 repetitions, gradually increasing the intensity.Toe curls
- Toe stretchesSit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Use your hands to gently pull your toes back toward you, holding for 10-15 seconds. Repeat this stretch a few times for each foot.Toe stretches
- Calf stretchesStand facing a wall and place your hands on the wall for support. Step one foot back, keeping the heel on the ground. Lean forward, feeling a stretch in your calf muscle. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then switch sides and repeat.Calf stretches
- What is metatarsalgia?
Metatarsalgia is a condition characterized by pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot, specifically the area around the metatarsal bones.
- What are the common symptoms of metatarsalgia?
Common symptoms of metatarsalgia include pain and tenderness in the ball of the foot, a feeling of walking on a pebble or a lump, and worsened pain when walking, running, or standing for long periods.
- What shoes are best for metatarsalgia?
The best shoes for metatarsalgia can help relieve symptoms with a few specific features. Metatarsal shoes—womens and mens alike—should offer enough cushion at the forefoot to absorb shock and enough space in the toe box to allow all your bones to rest flat. The shoe should feel comfortable and allow your feet to move naturally with each step.
- Can plantar fasciitis cause metatarsalgia?
Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia, or the connective tissue on the soles of the feet. Though plantar fasciitis pain typically starts at the base of the heel and is most intense in the arch and heel, it can extend to the balls of the feet, causing pain there as well.
- How can I ease metatarsal pain?
With acute onset metatarsal pain, rest and ice can help relieve symptoms of inflammation. For chronic metatarsal pain, high-quality comfortable shoes with plenty of cushion and arch support can help keep your feet healthy and symptoms at bay.
- What are the treatment options for metatarsalgia?
Treatment options for metatarsalgia may include rest and avoiding activities that exacerbate the pain, wearing supportive and cushioned footwear, using orthotic inserts, physical therapy exercises, and in some cases, medication or corticosteroid injections.
- Can metatarsalgia be managed without surgery?
In most cases, metatarsalgia can be managed without surgery through conservative measures such as lifestyle modifications, proper footwear, orthotic inserts, physical therapy, and pain management techniques. However, in rare cases where conservative treatments fail, surgery may be considered as a last resort.
At KURU, we pride ourselves on our unique approach to shoe design. We believe that shoes should be shaped to fit the natural contours of your feet, which is why we create every pair in three distinct support layers, not just an insole.
Our revolutionary ergonomic design starts with a curved footbed and adds unparalleled triple-layer support that includes shock-absorbing KURUCLOUD, heel-cupping KURUSOLE, and arch-supporting ULTIMATE INSOLES. The result? Shoes that are so comfortable you’ll stop thinking about your feet.
Our patented KURUSOLE plate features a unique design that cups and protects the heel and allows for dynamic flexion with each step. …Show More
Our patented KURUSOLE plate features a unique design that cups and protects the heel and allows for dynamic flexion with each step. This superior support helps us utilize our body’s natural cushioning system: the heel’s fat pad so you get more support with each step.…Show less
Our KURUCLOUD base layer acts as a cushioned footbed to offer padding and shock absorption with every step. This layer of dense EVA …Show More
Our KURUCLOUD base layer acts as a cushioned footbed to offer padding and shock absorption with every step. This layer of dense EVA foam helps absorb impact to your foot, including the ball of the foot, which can help reduce the risk of pain and injury to this area.…Show less
The top layer of our tech trio, ULTIMATE INSOLES feature a bridge of arch support and premium, dual-density polyurethane foam. These durable, cushioned …Show More
The top layer of our tech trio, ULTIMATE INSOLES feature a bridge of arch support and premium, dual-density polyurethane foam. These durable, cushioned 5mm insoles provide lasting support and comfort—especially for those with ball of foot pain.…Show less
Our patented KURUSOLE plate features a unique design that cups and protects the heel and allows for dynamic flexion with each step. This superior support helps us utilize our body’s natural cushioning system: the heel’s fat pad so you get more support with each step.
Our KURUCLOUD base layer acts as a cushioned footbed to offer padding and shock absorption with every step. This layer of dense EVA foam helps absorb impact to your foot, including the ball of the foot, which can help reduce the risk of pain and injury to this area.
The top layer of our tech trio, ULTIMATE INSOLES feature a bridge of arch support and premium, dual-density polyurethane foam. These durable, cushioned 5mm insoles provide lasting support and comfort—especially for those with ball of foot pain.
Fine, We’ll Tell You Our Secret
What makes KURU different? Every KURU shoe comes with built-in patented KURUSOLE tech—a foot health game changer.
While other shoes are flat on the inside, KURUSOLE is shaped like your foot to hug and prevent fatigue and pain.
This shoe does everything it promised and more. This shoe is so great to wear. The break-in period was fairly brief for me. I have loved how they support my heel and arch and there is plenty of room for my toes. The pain in the ball of my foot is much less now. They look nice too. I especially appreciate the leather wedge-shaped detail at the ball of my foot which feels supportive and also breaks up what would otherwise be a very long (I have size 10 feet) shoe. Based on my experience with this first purchase, I have recommended KURU shoes and boots to three friends, one of whom has bought the boots already. I have also bought a pair of Chicanes which are good and getting better.”
Thank you to my wife! My wife had a couple pairs of Kuru shoes and swears by them. I have horrible pain in the balls of my feet and she finally convinced my to try them. These came this morning and I put them on right away. I wore them all day. They are the most comfortable shoes. I have very little pain in my feet this evening. I will definitely be purchase more!”
These really work for me. I am an active 69 years young senior who walks 4 to 5 miles every other day. I play golf and ride my bike whe the weather is ok. I also have developed neuropathy in both feet at the ball of each foot making them tingling when walking and wearing any type of shoe. These shoes have stopped the tingling and feel great. So marked was the improvement I purchased a second pair within a week. Great product! SO WORTH THE MONEY!!”
Finally! My feet have been hurting for years and I have tried so many different shoes. My problem is in the ball and toe area. I tried several different shoes that said they were good for plantar fasciitis. Spent a lot of money on insoles. I ordered these because of a review. I don’t know what it is because they don’t have a hi arch or much of a insole but they area just comfortable!!! Im on my 5th pair and a new pair in the closet. They hold up well and like the style.”
Most comfortable pair of work boots ever! I’ve been wearing these boots for about a week now. I work 12 hour shifts and they were comfy straight out of the box. I’ve had plantar fasciitis for the better part of 18 months and nothing I’ve tried has worked. These boot definitely helps. Did it cure my heel pain? No. But it makes it tolerable. I can actually distribute my weight evenly now when I walk whereas before all my weight had to go to the ball of my foot. I will definitely be buying another pair of Kuru’s when the time comes!”