9 Best Shoes for Metatarsalgia – 2021 Guide

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Brooks Ghost 14
Test Winner: Brooks Ghost 14
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There's a number of people who are avid runners, who never experience any discomfort and pain, regardless of the difficult fitness regime they go through.

However, there are also those who suffer from conditions that make even walking an excruciatingly painful experience.

Those who suffer from Metatarsalgia are too familiar with the sharp and burning pain in the ball of the foot, numbness and tingling, and the inability to walk or stand on hard surfaces.

Standout Picks

Brooks Ghost 14
The latest edition of one of the world’s best running shoes brings innovation and well-loved technology to provide you with a pair of running footwear that’s cushioning, comfortable, and looks great. Whether you wear it for training sessions or on a daily basis, you’ll enjoy the updated jacquard upper that’s highly breathable and ensures a great fit.
New Balance 990v5
New Balance has been an industry staple for many decades. Buyers trust the reputation and value they are getting when buying New Balance. The 990v5 is highly developed with a blown rubber forefoot for lightweight cushioning but strong reinforcement of support.
OOFOS Original Thong
The OOFOS Original Thong will provide the ultimate comfort the moment you put your foot in it. The sandal thong is like walking on air and provides cushioning for the entire sole but, especially, in the ball of the foot where people that suffer from pressure-point pain will find relief. These are like massaging your feet upon every step. It is exactly what a person needs that has problems with pain in the ball of the foot.
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Almost everyone is familiar with Birkenstocks and the way they mold to your foot when you slip it on. The only complaint some people have had through the years is that the footbed is too rigid. Birkenstock listened to the complaints of customers and made their iconic shoe with a soft footbed to provide the ultimate in cushion and support in their famed sandal.
Brooks Addiction 14
The Addiction 14 from Brooks is a stunningly responsive stability running shoe that balances strong support with a lightweight feel. The midsole is outfitted with a range of different features, such as the brand's own BioMoGo DNA material, and a Progressive Diagonal Rollbar for extra support. A foam insole also provides maximum cushioning, keeping your feet comfortable and well supported.
ASICS GEL-Venture 8
ASICS products are known for being durable and supportive while maintaining their comfort level. The GEL-Venture 8 was redesigned to have a new midsole and upper to take its shock absorbency to the next level. This is exactly what metatarsalgia sufferers need for the feet.
Hoka One One Bondi 7
A modest update from its predecessor, the Bondi 7 is all about comfort. From the full-length EVA midsole to the brand’s own Meta-Rocker Technology, this sneaker is designed to give you a comfortable ride. Mesh panels on the upper promote breathability, while the rubber outsole provides strong traction and promotes the overall durability of the shoe.
Skechers Go Walk 5
Skechers is synonymous with comfort. Their footwear is designed with every possible way to ensure the foot is secure and comfortable. The Go Walk was made to encourage wearers to get out and walk. The midsole cushion is made to absorb the impact from the ground contact and prevent it from reaching the ball of the foot.
Alegria Debra
Typically, worn by healthcare professionals (as they stand on their feet most of the time), these shoes are great for other individuals with foot pain. These have many features that make it a great choice for metatarsalgia sufferers.
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Criteria Used for Evaluation

Shock Absorption

The main aspect you should be looking for is shock absorption.

Crucial in both treating and preventing pain in the metatarsal area, a good pair of shoes will absorb the shock that’s generated when landing on your feet (whether from walking, running or jumping).

Lessening the force that hits your bone structure, this type of technology will help the body cope with the pain and discomfort, lessening neural sensitivity, as well as any possible inflammation.

There are two portions of any pair of footwear in charge of shock absorption. In athletic footwear, it’s the midsole that is often specially developed to provide the highest level of cushioning.

On the other hand, you want to get a pair of footwear with the right insole, which will cradle the foot, and can add an extra layer of softness. If you require custom orthotics, or just appreciate fresh and clean footwear, definitely opt for a removable insole. If not available in your chosen style, you’ll have to pay closer attention to how it feels in contact with your foot.

Support

The second most important aspect is the support they offer.

Oftentimes, metatarsalgia is caused by inadequate support to the arch, or pronation issues that place too much pressure on the forefoot, leading to the burning pain that is the most common symptom of this illness. The right pair of shoes will hug the arch portion of the foot, aiding the foot in its natural shock absorbing motions, but without impacting the gait cycle too much.

A number of models on this list are made with neutral support. This means that it’ll be most appropriate for those with a medium arch who do not over or underpronate. If you have any known issues - such as flat feet or really high arches - you can still purchase these models. You’ll just have to remove the insoles and insert your own orthotics that’ll provide you with the correct fit underneath the foot.

Other models, however, such as the Birkenstock Arizona, New Balance 990v5 and the Brooks feature a higher level of support in this area, making them great options for those with known issues.

Outsole

The outer sole is the part of the shoe that is visible.

It encompasses the entire bottom of the shoe. Typically, the soles of almost all shoes are made of rubber. Rubber has been heralded to be one of the lightest weight materials to use as a sole. It is, also, very durable and shock absorbing.  Rubber outer soles have traction grooves that make them slip resistant.

Rubber soles are, virtually, indestructible. They are made to take a beating and go the mile for mile, especially for runners. That is the main purpose of rubber: to be a shock absorber and last for years. Rubber soles are excellent shock absorbers and take the brunt of force upon impact whether running or walking and, then, disperse the energy through the foot. This prevents one part of the foot from taking all of the impacts.

Typically, the ball of the foot is where all of the energy gathers and the end of a step. This is, also, the part of the foot that is the instigator of the pains from metatarsalgia. By reducing the amount of stress, the ball of the foot will not pinch the nerves in the foot.

Upper

Because this is an issue that is often caused by tight fitting footwear, you should really pay attention to the way the upper of the footwear feels when you put it on.

While you may be tempted to go with pointed toe heels to look your best, you would do much better with adequately designed footwear that allows a good amount of room in the forefoot so that the toes and metatarsal joints aren’t squeezed together.

Luckily, you can choose from a huge variety of footwear in terms of upper materials, as long as you go with a sufficiently wide design with a round toe. You can opt for leather if you’re after something that looks classy and can stand up to the test of time.

For something more flexible, opt for mesh or knit materials that are most often found in athletic footwear. Some manufacturers have even started incorporating stretch fibres in these uppers, giving them a much better ability to adapt to your foot, without constricting or squeezing it too tight.

Size

A large contributor to the pains of metatarsalgia is wearing improper fitting shoes.

This is footwear that is not wide enough, too wide, too small, or too large. Wearing shoes that are too large (either in width or length) means the foot is sliding around and moving inside the shoe. The foot is not landing properly because it is not secure. Added stress is being placed on the foot to try and adapt to every step. A shoe that is too tight crunches the foot up inside, adds stress to the foot and pinches nerves.

Having correct fitting footwear is what will hold the foot in place inside and keep it from moving around inside. Be careful to avoid one that is too tight and thinking it will stretch out over time. If a shoe has that much elasticity in it, the shoe is not going to hold up its shape for long and will not secure the foot for long.

The width and toe box are vital to making sure the toes and feet are not cramped. This will keep stress off of the bones of the foot and, then, the nerves will not suffer from being pinched.

Top 9 Shoes for Metatarsalgia

1. Brooks Ghost 14

Where to buy
Brooks Ghost 14
Brooks Ghost 14
Brooks Ghost 14
Amazon Link

The latest edition of one of the world’s best running shoes brings innovation and well-loved technology to provide you with a pair of running footwear that’s cushioning, comfortable, and looks great. Whether you wear it for training sessions or on a daily basis, you’ll enjoy the updated jacquard upper that’s highly breathable and ensures a great fit.

Another awesome thing about Brooks shoes is that they come in a number of widths, so you can purchase the Ghost 11 in narrow, normal, wide and extra wide.

One of the best midsole materials in the market, the BioMoGo DNA is fully responsive, and customizes the level of cushioning and energy return to your personal style of running and walking. More force, for example that generated by heavier runners, will result in firmer cushioning.

The heel area will benefit from a DNA Loft shock absorbing system that disperses force of impact and prevents it from traveling up the legs. The front of the shoe, on the other hand, has traditional Crash Pads that allow landing impact on the front of the foot to be evenly distributed over the entire foot.

Additionally, this technology ensures a more efficient toe off through the guidance lines that help put the foot in the correct position for the movement.

2. New Balance 990v5

Where to buy
New Balance 990v5
New Balance 990v5
New Balance 990v5
Amazon Link

New Balance has been an industry staple for many decades. Buyers trust the reputation and value they are getting when buying New Balance. The 990v5 is highly developed with a blown rubber forefoot for lightweight cushioning but strong reinforcement of support.

The shaft to arch measurement is 3 inches; thereby, providing more of the adequate cushioning and arch support buyers with metatarsalgia need. This, also, has a plush tongue, as well as, a thick collar to prevent chaffing around the ankle or on the top of the foot.

The midsoles of these are designed to support and cushion the arch and ball of the foot. This helps to alleviate the pressure on the ball of the foot which is where the pain originates from for metatarsalgia sufferers. Typically, shoes that are tailored made with extra padding in the sole would, usually, be heavy and dense.

Footwear like the New Balance 990v5 that are made with blown rubber in the outsole, however, are lighter in weight, thanks to the technology of it. This makes a difference on tired feet and legs, plus they are easier to wear and walk in.

While the 990v5 is at a higher price range than some of the others shoes in the category, buyers can feel confident in their purchase.

3. OOFOS Original Thong

Where to buy
OOFOS Original Thong
OOFOS Original Thong
OOFOS Original Thong
Amazon Link

The OOFOS Original Thong will provide the ultimate comfort the moment you put your foot in it. The sandal thong is like walking on air and provides cushioning for the entire sole but, especially, in the ball of the foot where people that suffer from pressure-point pain will find relief. These are like massaging your feet upon every step. It is exactly what a person needs that has problems with pain in the ball of the foot.

By designing the footbed with texture points, it gently massages the foot with each step. Not only does it massage the foot but the textures help to distribute pressure from the weight of the body on each step, as well. Traditional shoes send reverse energy back into the foot.

The OOFOS original thong does the opposite and it absorbs up to 37% more energy and forces it into the shoe, alleviating the stress and impact that is sent back into the body.

This is very affordable and will last a long time. It is even machine washable to allow for easy cleaning. It can be worn every day, so buyers will get much use out of the sandal.

4. Birkenstock Arizona Soft

Where to buy
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Birkenstock Arizona Soft
Birkenstock Arizona Soft
Amazon Link

Almost everyone is familiar with Birkenstocks and the way they mold to your foot when you slip it on. The only complaint some people have had through the years is that the footbed is too rigid. Birkenstock listened to the complaints of customers and made their iconic shoe with a soft footbed to provide the ultimate in cushion and support in their famed sandal.

Birkenstocks have been a staple in the industry since 1896, and have a reputation of some of the best and most supportive shoes in the business

Often imitated but never duplicated is the footbed of the Birkenstock Arizona. However, they improved their own design by making the footbed softer and suppler for those that craved support and cushion. Made of contoured cork and latex, the footbed conforms to each individual shape to provide the best cushion and stability throughout.

By putting dual adjustable straps on the footwear, wearers can tailor their fit on a daily basis. Some days the foot swells and it needs more room but typical shoes don't have a way to adjust the fit. If you want to wear socks with your Birks, you can simply adjust the buckles to give the foot more room to accommodate a sock.

5. Brooks Addiction 14

Where to buy
Brooks Addiction 14
Brooks Addiction 14
Brooks Addiction 14
Amazon Link

The Addiction 14 from Brooks is a stunningly responsive stability running shoe that balances strong support with a lightweight feel. The midsole is outfitted with a range of different features, such as the brand's own BioMoGo DNA material, and a Progressive Diagonal Rollbar for extra support. A foam insole also provides maximum cushioning, keeping your feet comfortable and well supported.

The BioMoGo DNA midsole is a signature part of Brooks running shoes and works together with the Progressive Diagonal Rollbar to provide support. The BioMoGo DNA material is incredibly responsive; the harder you push on the shoe, the firmer the midsole will be in response.

The Progressive Diagonal Rollbar is where the stability really shines in the Addiction 14. This technology runs through the entire length of the shoe. It is designed to guide you through a proper gait, helping to gently correct issues with pronation.

The BioMoGo DNA material we mentioned earlier, in the midsole? It's also present in the foam insole. Similar to how it performs in the midsole, this material is designed to gently mold itself to the shape of your foot, similar to memory foam. This is designed to provide you with key points of cushioning, properly supporting your feet no matter how they change over time.

6. ASICS GEL-Venture 8

Where to buy
ASICS GEL-Venture 8
ASICS GEL-Venture 8
ASICS GEL-Venture 8
Amazon Link

ASICS products are known for being durable and supportive while maintaining their comfort level. The GEL-Venture 8 was redesigned to have a new midsole and upper to take its shock absorbency to the next level. This is exactly what metatarsalgia sufferers need for the feet.

They are made with a one-piece outsole for ruggedness and finished on the bottom with multi-directional lugs for improved traction.

Adding an extra gel layer in the rear foot portion pads the sole to provide shock absorption into the heel upon strike, instead of it generating through the shoe and then into the foot. The ASICS Venture is so technologically advanced it can help relieve the problems and pains associated with metatarsalgia, because it prevents the pressure being placed on the ball of the foot.

ASICS knows that not every sockliner is going to mold exactly perfect to the foot. That is the reason behind the removable sockliner. This allows buyers to purchase customized inserts that provide support on the ball of the foot to the individual.

ASICS comes in at the lower end of the price range, so they are a great buy.

7. Hoka One One Bondi 7

Where to buy
Hoka One One Bondi 7
Hoka One One Bondi 7
Hoka One One Bondi 7
Amazon Link

A modest update from its predecessor, the Bondi 7 is all about comfort. From the full-length EVA midsole to the brand’s own Meta-Rocker Technology, this sneaker is designed to give you a comfortable ride. Mesh panels on the upper promote breathability, while the rubber outsole provides strong traction and promotes the overall durability of the shoe.

We talk about EVA pretty often, as this foam is the most common type of material used in midsoles. The midsole is essentially the “heart” of the shoe, and EVA foam provides support for a wide range of foot shapes and conditions. It also features a minimal long-term compression rate, allowing it to retain the proper shape for longer.

The Meta-Rocker technology used in the Bondi 7 is a signature feature of Hoka One One shoes, though rocker outsoles have been used by other companies as well.

This type of outsole is designed to guide your feet into a proper gait, as well as provide additional metatarsal support.

8. Skechers Go Walk 5

Where to buy
Skechers Go Walk 5
Skechers Go Walk 5
Skechers Go Walk 5
Amazon Link

Skechers is synonymous with comfort. Their footwear is designed with every possible way to ensure the foot is secure and comfortable. The Go Walk was made to encourage wearers to get out and walk. The midsole cushion is made to absorb the impact from the ground contact and prevent it from reaching the ball of the foot.

The mesh upper gives extra room for expansion and prevents the foot from being cramped inside. That is one of the main causes of metatarsalgia, shoes fitting too tightly.

Using bamboo in the construction, as it is known for its antimicrobial properties, is second in line to being used for cooling comfort. Bamboo does not retain heat or moisture; therefore, it prevents a hotbed of bacteria from growing inside. The sockliner is constructed of what feels like air. It is so soft under the feet and gives strong support of the arch and ball of the foot because it molds to the foot.

Skechers is an excellent value for the money. They are budget-friendly and the best buy for the price. It makes a great choice that fits within everyone's budget. Furthermore, Skechers have developed a name for dependability and comfort.

9. Alegria Debra

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Alegria Debra
Alegria Debra
Alegria Debra
Amazon Link

Typically, worn by healthcare professionals (as they stand on their feet most of the time), these shoes are great for other individuals with foot pain. These have many features that make it a great choice for metatarsalgia sufferers.

They are designed to redistribute energy throughout the foot, instead of it staying in the ball of the foot upon each step. They are, also, very secure and will hold the foot in place without crowding the foot or toes.

The portion where the foot lies is made from soft but firm foam that initiates a reflective spring action while stepping. They help to alleviate the pain and pressure from the ball of the foot, which is where the issues from metatarsalgia originate from.

The designers took into consideration the appeal of having footwear that supports the foot and enclose the heel, all while being easy to take on and off. The Debra is made to slip easily on and off, so it is a great option for those individuals perhaps with limited mobility that needs things a bit easier.

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Sources

  1. Christian Nordqvist, All About Metatarsalgia, article
  2. Shelley Drozd, Metatarsalgia, article
  3. Mayo Clinic Staff, Metatarsalgia, article; medical
  4. Shatto, B., How to Self-Treat Metatarsalgia, blog; article
  5. Durham, B. MD., Metatarsalgia Treatment & Management, article; medical