Are you a runner? If so, you may have crossed swords with foot pain at one point or another. It’s an unpleasant issue, to say the least, and it’s tough to ignore. But what can you really do about it? You’re in the right place to find out. Keep reading to learn all about ball-of-foot pain when running and our recommendations for treating this issue.
What Is Ball of Foot Pain and What Causes It?
It’s a pretty common condition, so you’re not suffering alone. You might feel sharp pain or a dull ache right at the bottom of your foot where your toes join the rest of your foot. Here are a few things that cause this type of pain:
- Shoes that don’t fit correctly
- Nerve damage
How to Treat Ball of Foot Pain
Your first step, ideally, is to make an appointment with your podiatrist or general doctor. A healthcare professional can provide specific advice on solving this problem. One common cause is wearing a shoe that simply doesn’t fit correctly, which your doctor may point out.
Check out this list of common treatments for ball-of-foot pain:
- Wearing orthotics or special shoes
- Pain medication
- Physical therapy
Anyone dealing with nerve pain or arthritis would benefit from a specially-made pair of kicks. The right shoe will relieve foot pain. It could change your running gait to help you move more freely. Now, the thought of having surgery for ball-of-foot pain seems scary, but it’s only used as the last resort. Try every other possible treatment before taking the route of invasive procedures.
The Best Running Shoes for Ball of Foot Pain
The medical term for ball-of-foot pain is metatarsalgia. Causes include running, jumping, tight shoes, or foot deformities. You may feel pain and notice inflammation in the ball-of-foot area. It can make running or even walking difficult for you, so it’s worth resolving.
If you wear shoes that don’t fit properly or are too tight, it can cause or aggravate the issue. That’s why wearing the right running shoe is essential as you fight this pain. Look for top-notch support and cushioning as you browse the shoe selection.
Get a head-start on your shoe search by checking out our recommendations in the list below1On another note, did you know ill-fitting shoes also cause bunions? We’ve also put together a list of the best running shoes for bunions to help you avoid that issue, too.
Asics is a well-known athletic brand, and they make great shoes. The Gel Nimbus 21 is one pair that’s great for ball-of-foot pain. They feature gel cushioning, as the name implies! These shoes also have a beveled heel and forefoot, so the shoe absorbs as much impact as possible. Another helpful feature is the roomy toe box, giving the front and ball of your foot space to breathe.
Brooks is another tried-and-true running shoe company. Their Glycerin 18 style has breathable upper material and is made to be comfy and cushy. The cushioning actually runs from the tips of your toes all the way to the heel for maximum support. There’s a wide toe box so the ball of your foot can spread out, and the arch support is adaptable.
Extra cushioning is the name of the game with the Saucony Triumph ISO 5 running shoe model. Like the Brooks, these Saucony shoes are cushioned and supportive. The toe box is nice and roomy, and this shoe’s arch support system really makes them feel like custom orthotics!
Hokas are known for their extravagant cushioning systems. The One Bondi 6 shoe model takes full-length cushioning to the next level. It absorbs shock, which helps your ball-of-foot pain issue. Of course, it also has that roomy toe box to allow your toes and the ball of your foot to spread out. It’s actually my choice of running shoe, so if you opt for this one, you’re not alone!
Looking for extra cushioning? If so, the New Balance 1080v9 running shoe is a suitable option. They pack full-length cushioning into these bad boys, allowing relief from ball-of-foot pain. They’re designed as motion-control shoes and feature the much-needed wide-toe box.
The full-length cushion on the Mizuno Wave Runner 22 shoe is excellent for shock absorption, reducing the impact on the balls of your feet. The cushion is foam, which is highly supportive of your foot. With a wide toe box and a supportive arch, your feet will thank you for wearing these shoes.
Where would our list be without a Nike running shoe? The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 shoe provides lots of cushioning for the balls of your feet. The full-length foam will absorb shock, so your feet are less impacted with every stride.
Besides looking fashionable, the Adidas Ultraboost 20 model is quite comfortable, as reported by consumers. The materials are synthetic and rubber, and these shoes come with breathable uppers. You’ll find that the soles absorb enough shock to ease the pain in the balls of your feet.
How to Know If You Need New Running Shoes
You may not automatically notice when it’s time for new running shoes. That’s why you’ve got to keep an eye on those treads. If they’re worn down, it’s time for a new pair. The last thing you want is to be running around in shoes that aren’t optimizing shock absorption; that will only make your ball-of-foot pain worse. When the cushioning and tread are worn down, it’s time for a new pair of running shoes for ball-of-foot pain.
Here’s a quick list of signs it’s time for new kicks:
- Your shoes feel less comfortable than they used to.
- You have pain in the balls of your feet when you run.
- Your shoes are more than six months old.
- You’ve put more than 500 miles on your shoes.
Consider your foot type and shape. You can have running experts analyze your gait and pronation to help put you in the right shoe. With the right pair, the difference can be astronomical, and you’ll be able to run more with less pain!
Tips to Choose the Right Running Shoes
Going to a running shoe store and getting a personally-fitted pair is your best bet. Some running shoe stores even have a treadmill that you can run on so the experts can assess your stride.
Look at the arch of your foot, as well. Higher arches require more arch support than flat feet. If you go to a running shoe store, the specialist should easily identify this aspect of your feet and offer a few suitable options.
As a refresher, pronation is the inward roll of your foot as you follow through a step. Heavy pronation requires more support to avoid injury or pain, so it’s something to watch out for. It may be more difficult for you to identify on your own, which is why visiting a running store is best.
What kind of terrain will you run on? Soft dirt, grass, or sand? Rocky trails? Or cement pavement? If you do most of your running on sidewalks, try to get a more cushioned shoe that absorbs more shock. Trail-runners should look for sturdy soles.
How to Properly Break in Your New Running Shoe
Any new pair of shoes or gear item has a little phase of breaking it in. When you buy a new pair of running shoes for ball-of-foot pain, you’ll want to follow a few pointers before heading out for a half marathon. Check out our tips on the topic below.
- Wear them around the house at first.
- Keep your walks or runs short.
- Break them in over a few weeks.
- Listen to your body.
- Give yourself time to adjust.
Additional Tips for Avoiding and Treating Ball of Foot Pain While Running
Runners with ball-of-foot pain can strategize and adapt to maximize their comfort while running. Here are a few ideas to help you avoid or treat your foot pain:
- Wear properly-fitted shoes. Do not run on worn-down shoes. Wear shoes that have the proper support system according to your arches and foot width.
- Do not wear tight shoes.
- Try not to run on hard surfaces (think: sidewalks) all the time. If you can, find soft dirt trails or run on the treadmill, so there’s less shock on your feet.
- Stretch all of the muscles in your legs, ankles, calves, and feet. Do a proper warmup before running to keep the balls of your feet looser.
- Massage the balls of your feet to boost blood flow.
- If the balls of your feet are inflamed, ice them for twenty minutes at a time.
Following these tips and consulting a running specialist or physical therapist for more personalized advice can make a huge difference in your running lifestyle. Reducing ball-of-foot pain is within reach. You just have to be consistent about avoiding and treating it.
The Takeaway: There Are Plenty of Choices for Running Shoes If You Have Ball-of-Foot Pain
While there are many supportive running shoes for ball-of-foot pain out there, don’t hesitate to seek out professional healthcare advice to rule out underlying conditions. If you’ve already tried a few things to manage your ball-of-foot pain, see a running shoe specialist or podiatrist. With a little time and effort, you’ll be back on your feet soon!