Metatarsalgia or Ball of foot pain can take all the joy out of running, or sideline you altogether. It’s not something that comes on overnight, it creeps up on you. However, if you pay attention to your body, you can often get it under control before it gets out of hand. Ideally, you want to choose shoes and a training/recovery program that will prevent the problem in the first place.
I’ve created a list of the top shoes that will help keep you running while you recover from Metatarsalgia. If it seems that I favor certain brands over others, it’s because I’ve personally suffered from this problem and have tried many shoes in the process of finding a solution. My top pick for the best running shoes for Metatarsalgia is the Asics Novablast 2 as it’s such a versatile shoe.
These are the shoes that have proven themselves effective in helping with metatarsal pain.
Our picks for 6 Best Running Shoes for Metatarsalgia
1. Asics Novablast 2 (Best All-rounder for Metatarsalgia)
2. New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v5 (Best Stability Shoe for Metatarsalgia)
3. New Balance Fresh Foam More V3 (Best Cushioned Shoe for Metatarsalgia)
4. Nike Winflo 7 (Best Shoe for Flat Feet with Metatarsalgia)
5. Saucony Endorphin Speed (Best High Mileage Shoe for Metatarsalgia)
6. Saucony Endorphin Pro 2 (Best Racing shoe for Metatarsalgia)
What is Metatarsalgia?
Metatarsalgia is a term that refers to pain and inflammation in the ball or front of your foot. It’s not a specific condition, but a term that describes symptoms that can have different causes. You might feel the pain in the soft tissue or padding just below your toes, and it can be anything from a shooting pain to numbness.
Causes of Metatarsalgia
- More often than not, Metatarsalgia is an injury caused by overuse. However, there are a few other factors that can cause pain in the ball of your foot as well.
- The anatomical structure of your foot can cause pain in the ball of your foot like having high arches or flat feet.
- Morton’s Toe. Morton’s Toe is when your second toe is longer than your first toe. While the Greeks thought it was a sign of beauty, for a runner, it causes uneven distribution of weight when landing. Uneven weight distribution can lead to pain.
- Shoes that are too tight or don’t offer enough support or cushioning.
Symptoms of Metatarsalgia
When I moved my training into high gear, I noticed a feeling like a marble underfoot. It wasn’t a searing pain, but a dull constant pain to a burning sensation. Some people experience a searing pain, while others describe it as numbness across the soft pad of their foot. It’s also possible to feel pain radiating into your toes.
It feels better after rest and worse when running, walking or standing.
Treatment for Metatarsalgia
- Gentle massage
- In extreme cases, it might require surgery
A Closer Look at Our 6 Best Running Shoes for Metatarsalgia
1. Asics Novablast 2
The Asics Novablast is a lightweight shoe with plenty of bounce. The futuristic look and fun colorways set it apart from the Nimbus and Cumulus and the unique ride puts it in a class of its own. It’s a neutral shoe that does well as an everyday trainer, whether it’s on long recovery runs, shorter tempo runs or anything in between.
FF BLAST™ cushioning
Engineered Mesh Upper
AHAR® Plus Outsole
Good cushioning in the forefoot
Sizing runs big
FLYTEFOAM BLAST™ cushioning delivers a responsive and efficient ride
The jacquard mesh upper breathes well while offering adequate support
AHAR® Plus Outsole is extremely durable while providing maximum responsiveness
Approximately 222g/7.8oz (based on a women’s US7)
This is a neutral shoe designed for normal size arches
2. New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v5
Gone are the days of clunky stability shoes! New Balance sets the bar high with this exciting lightweight stability shoe. You’ll be able to run far and long in this shoe, the Vongo v5 is ready and raring to go.
Fresh Foam X
Lots of toe room
Light for a stability shoe
Good for heavier runners
Outsole wears quickly
Low heel drop might take some getting used to
The adaptive midsole comprises bonded pellets
Breathable upper that runs slightly narrow, consider the W (wide) version if you have wider feet
Flex grooves in the forefoot, with blown rubber covering high impact areas
Approximately 222g/7.8oz (based on a women’s US7)
3. New Balance Fresh Foam More V3
The V3 is a responsive everyday trainer with maximal cushioning. A well-put-together shoe that will give you consistent performance run after run.
Wide toe box
Good for heavier runners
Outsole showed early signs of wear
Needs some breaking in
Structured upper and heel cup
Ground contact foam
Approximately 248g/8.7oz (based on a women’s US7.5)
4. Nike Winflo 7
This might not be the most exciting shoe on our list, but if you’ve struggled to find a shoe that offers enough cushioning in the forefoot without adding additional strain on your flat feet, the Nike Winflo 7 might be the answer. Excellent for 5-10Ks and runners with flat feet.
Mesh and synthetic upper
Great for flat feet
Fabric in heel wears quickly
The midsole does the job, but it’s not responsive enough to get you excited
Durable upper that breathes well, although I found the inside showed signs of wear quicker than I expected
Durable rubber on the full length of the sole
Approximately 246g/8.7oz (based on a women’s US8)
This is not a support shoe, yet the wide base makes it stable, which might make it a good fit for a runner that needs only light support
5. Saucony Endorphin Speed 2
Designed as an everyday trainer, this shoe will get you excited about every run. The Speed 2 does fantastic on everything from short tempo runs to long recovery runs, though your running form needs to be on point. And they have some really fun color options.
Light and breathable upper with FORMFIT technology that adapts to your foot
SPEEDROLL Technology helps you run faster with the same amount of effort
Full-length, responsive nylon plate
Ultralight PWRRUN PB gives you bounce
XT-900 outsole with high-abrasion zones for great traction that lasts
Nylon plate in the midsole
The heel counter fits securely
PWRRUN PB cushion
Great for long runs
Doesn’t do well on wet surfaces
Not great for walking
Featherlight PWRRUN PB cushioning with nylon plate
The upper is extremely light and breathable, keeping feet cool while hugging your foot without being tight
The outsole has a layer of carbon rubber on high-abrasion zones that makes it last longer, but it also, unfortunately, gets slippery on wet surfaces.
Approximately 198g/7oz (based on a women’s US8)
This is a neutral shoe, but it offers plenty of support with a good locked-in fit
6. Saucony Endorphin Pro 2
The Endorphin Pro 2 is a phenomenal shoe. This is probably one of the best shoes for racing even if you don’t have metatarsal pain.
At first glance, it’s easy to get stuck on the huge sole of this shoe, with the heel at a massive 39mm and the front at 31mm. Putting them on will really reinforce that it’s a platform shoe. Initially, they’re quite uncomfortable to walk in, but don’t judge them until you’ve taken them for a run.
They designed the Endorphin Pro 2 for racing and it’s only once you’ve run in them, that you’ll fall in love. These babies will have you running PBs from the get-go. There is a learning curve and you’ll need good running form to get the most out of this shoe. As a bonus, it comes in both practical and fun color combinations.
Carbon fiber plate
Ultralight PWRRUN PB gives you bounce and massive energy return
Enhanced heel support
Cheaper than competitors
No reflective strips
Takes a bit of time getting used to
Not great for walking
S-curve carbon-fiber plate makes this shoe fly
The single-layer mesh upper helps keep feet cool and weight low
XT-900 outsole lasts longer and provides great traction even on wet surfaces
Approximately 179g/6.3oz (based on a women’s US8)
A snug fit and enhanced heel support
How to choose the best running shoes for Metatarsalgia?
When you’re looking for shoes to help with Metatarsalgia, there are a few things you should pay attention to.
- You want a shoe that fits well. Running shoes should have a little space in the toe. You don’t want your toes pounding against the front of the shoe while running downhill. There should also be enough room that your toes don’t feel squeezed against each other. The same goes for the rest of the shoe. A snug fit is good, but never tight. If it feels a little tight when you first put it on, chances are it will only get tighter as your feet get warm from your run.
- If you’re running trails, soles should offer enough protection that you don’t feel anything pushing into your foot.
- Removable inner soles allow you to replace them with orthotics or gel inner soles.
- Shoes with lots of cushioning aren’t the lightest, but you don’t want something unnecessarily clunky either. Choose a shoe with the right amount of cushioning that isn’t too heavy.
- The softest ride isn’t necessarily the best. Cushioning must be firm enough to provide adequate shock absorption. A shoe that’s too soft is more difficult to run with and will fatigue your feet.
- Only look at support shoes if you pronate or supinate.
FAQs about Metatarsalgia
- Can I Run with Metatarsalgia?
Yes, you absolutely can. Rest when necessary, but if you have good shoes and the pain isn’t getting worse, you can definitely keep training.
- When should I See a Doctor?
If your pain is debilitating or continues to worsen, go see a doctor.
- How Do Runners Treat Metatarsalgia?
Rest. If the pain is intense, rest your feet for 2-3 days.
Analgesics work, although I’m not a fan. I believe that if you’re in enough pain that you need painkillers, you shouldn’t be running. If you’re not running, you can likely handle the pain and don’t need the painkillers. If you need medication while resting, go see a doctor.
Treat the area by applying icepacks for 10-15 minutes at a time, 2-3 times a day.
Rubbing the area with Arnica oil. As a runner, I always have Arnica oil in the house. It’s works wonders on aches, pains and sore muscles. Weleda is my brand of choice. I don’t like added ingredients that make my skin burn or tingle afterwards.
- Are Zero-drop Shoes Good for Metatarsalgia?
I have seen people recommend zero-drop shoes for metatarsalgia but haven’t come across a single runner that said it helped them. Zero-drop shoes might be okay for walking, but I wouldn’t recommend them for running.
- Does Metatarsalgia Ever Go Away?
It can definitely go away if you take care of your feet. My metatarsal pain was caused by overuse. It was only when I allowed my feet time to heal and recover that I could run pain-free again.
If the shape of your feet or a medical condition like arthritis causes your pain, consult a medical professional to answer this question for you.
- How Do I Prevent Metatarsalgia?
Don’t make sudden big changes to your exercise program.
If you ramp up the distance, you need to step up your care and recovery program as well.
Wear quality running shoes.
Learn to land softer. Proper biomechanics for shock absorption can prevent many injuries.
Avoid a high-sugar diet. Sugar makes your body susceptible to inflammation.
- Do Metatarsal Pads Help?
Metatarsal pads can help if they stay in place, but if they move around, they might end up doing more harm than good.
- Are Insoles Good for Metatarsal Pain?
I have found gel insoles to be very helpful. Sof Sole is my brand of choice. They add a bit of weight to your shoe.
- Why Have You Not Included Hoka or Brooks Shoes for Metatarsal Pain?
I developed metatarsal pain while rotating between the Hoka Cliftons 6 and Brooks Glycerin 18, and therefore can’t recommend them with Metatarsalgia in mind.
If you are in pain, the immediate goal is for you to alleviate the pain and to heal your feet. Then you need to find and fix what’s causing the problem. If you are over-training, you need to re-evaluate your training and recovery program and schedule in some essential self-care. Finding the right pair of shoes that you can run in, pain free, will allow your feet to heal. And ideally, prevent the problem in the first place.
My personal number one pick for best running shoes for Metatarsalgia has to be the Asics Novablast 2 for its unbeatable versatility. That, and they just feel great to run in. But everyone is different. My daughter’s feet are as flat as they come, so for her, the Winflo 7 is the better choice.
Metatarsalgia can turn running into a real pain, but with some TLC and the best pair of shoes for your feet, you’ll put the joy back in your running again.
After all, we are runners and running is joy.