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Best Running Shoes for Metatarsalgia & Common Causes of Ball of Foot Pain

Ball of the foot pain when running can be incredibly frustrating, painful and even debilitating. Not only can it cause discomfort on a run, but it can also alter your stride, foot strike and overall running form. However, finding the best running shoes for metatarsalgia can greatly help.

One of the most dreaded experiences for runners is noticing a slight pain somewhere in the body – especially in the ball of the foot. With time, this pain can grow and increase in intensity to the point that it can no longer be ignored. Before long, a full-blown injury can force time off.

What is metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia refers to ball of foot pain, usually caused from inflammation in the padding of the foot below the toes. This condition is common in athletes, especially those who play sports with high impact such as running.

Repeated stress on the ball of the foot can lead to inflammation and a chronic ache or shooting pain below the toes. Symptoms typically include one or more of the following:

  • Shooting pain in the ball of the foot
  • Ache or burning pain in the ball of the foot
  • Pain that intensifies when you run, walk, stand or flex the feet
  • Tingling or numb toes

Is it okay to run with ball of the foot pain (metatarsalgia)?

Whether or not it is safe to run with metatarsalgia, or any ball of the foot pain, depends entirely on the severity of the condition and each individual runner. In most cases, metatarsalgia does greatly improve with rest.

However, minor cases of ball of foot pain can sometimes be resolved with a few simple changes – such as switching to appropriate, supportive running shoes.

How do you stop the balls of the feet from hurting when running?

The treatment for metatarsalgia when running varies greatly from one runner to the next. However, nearly all runners dealing with ball of foot pain will benefit from selecting running shoes designed to support this type of pain.

Causes of Metatarsalgia (Ball of Foot Pain) When Running

Runners are notorious for having to deal with metatarsalgia due to the high impact nature of the sport. The repeated pounded can quickly lead to pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot without proper running shoes or running form. Here are the most common causes of metatarsalgia when running.

  • Improper foot strike: leaning too far forward with each step can shift weight towards the ball of the foot and create more impact
  • Overtraining: increasing mileage or intensity too soon or too quickly can lead to pain and injury in many areas, including the ball of the foot
  • Tight calves: can alter your stride and place too much weight on the ball of the foot
  • Ill-fitting running shoes: not enough cushioning, too much or too little heel drop, or shoes that simply don’t fit your unique foot structure can all lead to ball of foot pain
  • Extra weight: can create more impact with each landing
  • High arches: creates more pressure on the metatarsal in the foot

What to Look for in Running Shoes for Metatarsalgia

Most runners don’t take time to look into running shoes for metatarsalgia until they are already experiencing pain in the ball of their foot. However, the style of these running shoes can be beneficial for avoiding the development of ball of foot pain, as well as minimizing existing pain.

Here are some qualities to look for when selecting running shoes to help minimize and prevent metatarsalgia.

  • Low heel drop: helps reduce pressure on the ball of the foot
  • Cushioning: provides padding underneath the metatarsal to protect from impact
  • Wide toe box: provides enough room for the foot to spread out into natural form
  • Arch support: encourages optimal running form with correct foot positioning

Even with these qualities in mind, it can be difficult to filter through the incredible number of running shoes on the market and narrow down the best options for metatarsalgia.

We’ve created a list of the best running shoes for metatarsalgia in 2024 — those supported by podiatrists and running experts.

Check out the best running shoes for metatarsalgia in 2024! Plus common causes and solutions for ball of foot pain while running.

8 Best Running Shoes for Metatarsalgia

Check out this comprehensive list of running shoes for ball of foot pain. These shoes all provide the cushioning and support needed to help minimize and prevent metatarsalgia when running.

With some budget friendly options, as well as shoes offering extra support, there is sure to be something here for every runner.

Hoka Bondi

These running shoes are an excellent choice for those with metatarsalgia. The Hoka Bondi collection is a neutral shoe with a 4 mm heel drop. It’s plush cushioning supports both the heel and sole of the foot to protect from impact that can lead to ball of foot pain.

With a full length EVA midsole, arch support and soft, resilient foam, you’ll find support and comfort as you run with metatarsalgia or protect from its development.

Brooks Ghost

The Brooks Ghost collection of running shoes are another great choice for runners suffering from metatarsalgia. These neutral running shoes feature an 11 mm drop with plush, full foot cushioning.

The soft midsole and segmented crash pad help absorb some shock from each step to reduce the impact on the ball of the foot. The mesh upper and updated, lightweight DNA LOFT v2 cushion make these shoes and excellent choice.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080

The New Balance Fresh Foam collection features a neutral running shoe with a 6 mm heel drop. The midsole cushioning is designed to facilitate a smooth transition and help reduce some impact with each step.

These running shoes have extra soft cushioning to provide comfort, while a rubber outsole keeps them durable and strong to protect from wear and tear. The Fresh Foam X 1080 are an excellent choice for recreational runners, as their versatile design will stay strong throughout training and in high performance situations.

Saucony Kinvara

These running shoes not only help protect against ball of foot pain, but also provide energy with each step. The unique rolling design helps facilitate forward motion, while its PWRRUN PB cushioning provides a 90% rebound.

The Saucony Kinvara is a neutral running shoe with an 8 mm heel drop. With a ¾ length carbon plate and soft, full cushioning, you’ll have support with each step.

Asics Gel-Nimbus

With the softest cushioning yet, Asics Gel-Nimbus running shoes are another great option for runners with metatarsalgia. The FF BLAST PLUS ECO foam cushioning provides maximum, soft cushioning to absorb impact and create comfort on the run.

The unique design of these running shoes allows the heel to absorb some of the shock of impact, which helps protect from ball of foot pain. These neutral shoes have an 8 mm drop and comprehensive grip, making them an excellent option for all conditions.

Altra Torin

The Altra Torin contains 2 mm of added foam in the midsole, which helps absorb shock and reduce impact while running. These shoes are designed to allow your foot to remain flexible, while also delivering maximum support.

These neutral running shoes have a 0 mm drop and provide the toes plenty of room to spread out naturally. The firmer forefoot helps maintain a healthy footstrike, while still providing comfort with each step — an excellent option for running with ball of foot pain.

Hoka Carbon X

These neutral running shoes provide a 5 mm heel drop with responsive cushioning that supports high performance. The upper portion of the shoe has been reworked and tweaked to maximize fit and comfort.

The Hoka Carbon X contains a carbon fiber plate and a meta-rocker that support maximum speed and will help you reach your training goals, all while providing support for ball of the foot pain.

adidas Adizero Adios Pro

These lightweight running shoes will help you reach your training goals while providing support for metatarsalgia. Two layers of foam as well as the LIGHTSTRIKE PRO provide cushion and absorb some impact with each step.

The Adizero Adios Pro shoes are a neutral design with a 5 mm heel drop. The outside provides great traction in both wet and dry conditions, making these shoes a great option for multi-season training.

How to Treat Metatarsalgia (Ball of Foot Pain)

Runners who are shopping for running shoes for metatarsalgia are likely already experiencing some degree of ball of foot pain. This pain can range from a dull ache to an intense, shooting pain – but regardless, it can really interfere with running.

If you are experiencing metatarsalgia when running, it is important that you seek medical care from a doctor. In the cases where your medical practitioner deems it safe to continue running, there are a few remedies that might help manage the pain and prevent it from worsening.

Taking the time to select and invest in the shoes for ball of foot pain will pay off in immediately, as well as for years of running to come. Spending a little extra time and money will help protect the balls of your feet from unnecessary impact and maintain optimal foot health throughout training.

These running shoes are sure to take your training to a new, healthier level. Looking for more support?

More tips for running with ball of foot pain: