The average person spends around 20% of their day on their feet. Our modern way of life means that we are spending considerably less time on our feet than our ancestors did. Despite this, even activities as mild as walking can still cause aches and pains that can turn into a nightmare. The level of pain can also be aggravated if, for example, we are not wearing the right footwear or if a person has a preexisting medical condition.
This should not discourage people from spending time on their feet, be it walking, running or doing any other form of exercise. Keeping active is as important as eating a good diet, not only will it help an individual to live longer, but it has been proven to help our brains be healthier too. Regular exercise has been shown to increase the blood flow to the brain and to help cognitive thought processes such as memory.
Many people experience pain in their feet after prolonged periods up and about. Some people experience this pain because their footwear is directing all the pressure through one part of their feet, as is the case with high heels, while others experience it after some time spent walking or running.
If you are such a person and experience pain in the soles of your feet, then the simple addition of a good quality set of metatarsal pads can prevent a large amount of this discomfort, and in some cases get rid of it all together.
To help you find the best set of metatarsal pads, we have put together this review to let you know the ins and outs of all the different designs. Here are the best options for relieving and preventing pain.
|NAME||Material Type||Can be used for||Our Rating|
|DR JK- Ball of Foot Cushions, Metatarsal, and Neumeria Pads||gel||metatarsal pain and blisters, ball of foot pain, aching feet and neuroma|
|Dr. Frederick's Original Half Toe Sleeve Metatarsal Pads||thermoplastic elastomer (TPE)||corns , ingrown toenails , calluses , hammer toes, blisters, plantar fasciitis, metatarsal pain , broken toes , hallux valgus, mortons neuroma, bunions, tailor's bunion|
|Dr.Seth Soft Metatarsal Gel Pads||gel||calluses, morton's neuroma, rheumatism, other fore-foot discomfort and pain|
|Dr. Jill's Felt Metatarsal Pads||felt||ball-of-the-foot|
|PowerStep Metatarsal Cushions||poron (microcellular polyurethane)||ball-of-foot pain, metatarsalgia|
What are metatarsal pads?
Metatarsal pads fit inside the shoe under the area of the foot where the five metatarsal bones are. This begins behind the toes and runs about half way towards the ankle bone.
The metatarsal bones are hugely important in both absorbing and distributing weight around the foot whenever a person is standing. Breaking any one of these bones will result in enormous pain and will certainly mean an individual is off their feet for quite some time.
The huge pressure that they are required to absorb only becomes magnified when people wear poor quality shoes and high heels. Metatarsal pads absorb this pressure and distribute it around the foot so that it doesn’t all concentrate on what is known as the metatarsal head. Instead, they distribute it more evenly, spreading it to the metatarsal shaft and into the surrounding tissue.
This process not only makes your shoes fit more comfortably but also means that it is possible to wear them for much longer periods of time without experiencing discomfort or pain.
What can I do to prevent getting foot pain?
Toe Spreading Pads
A well-developed foot should be widest at the end of your toes. Due to modern footwear, many people suffer from what is termed as a mild deformity of the foot, which means that their foot is actually widest at the ball region where the toes meet the metatarsal bones. This is entirely due to people wearing shoes that are not wide enough and therefore mold the shape of the feet into a more constricted shape. It is estimated that some 80% of people in the western world have some sign of foot deformity resulting from wearing shoes. In women who regularly wear high heels, this number rises to a shocking 95% and serves to demonstrate just how much we put our feet through.
Why is this important? Well, when the entire weight of your body is supported by your feet, keeping your feet shaped healthy is vital in preventing aches and pains. These might only develop later in your life and could affect not just on your feet but other parts of your body too.
It is definitely advisable to get yourself a good set of insoles to wear in your shoes. Though there is some evidence to suggest the importance of the walking/running action in developing and maintaining a healthy level of cartilage in your joints, the simple fact is that taking a little impact pressure off your body can never be a bad thing.
Avoid poor quality and badly fitting shoes.
This one is really a no-brainer and doesn’t need much in the way of an explanation. Since the entire weight of your body goes through your feet, it is best to try to make sure that they are looked after.
Can I just use insoles rather than a metatarsal pad?
Insoles are a really great way of adding an extra cushion to the pressures that your foot has to cope with. They will definitely make a difference in terms of comfort and in reducing the amount of pain you will feel when on your feet for any length of time. When buying insoles, you should take extra care to make sure that they fit the shoe perfectly so that they don’t move around as you walk.
The main problem with insoles is that they are not specifically designed to spread pressure around the foot but are designed just to provide an extra layer of absorbency. This means that though the initial impact pressure on the foot is reduced, the overall pressure on the foot’s stress points remains the same.
To relieve metatarsal pain, you must use a pad that has been designed specifically for that purpose. Metatarsal pads will reduce the pressure points and therefore rid you of most, if not all your foot pain, while also improving foot function.
What should I look out for when buying a set of metatarsal pads?
There are a few important things to consider when purchasing a set of pads for your feet. It is important to remember that not all pads are the same. Some pads will be poorly manufactured while others will have design flaws that could end up making the pain worse rather than better. Here are a few things to keep an eye out for.
You should always make sure that your new pads fit your feet perfectly. They should be the right size and shape for your feet and should not cause any rubbing.
Comfort is extremely important when using foot pads. They should not cause any discomfort, so should you find that they create new pain spots in different areas of your feet then you are advised to stop using them immediately. They should feel very comfortable and at times when pain should return to your feet, it should feel milder and spread over the entire metatarsal area of the foot rather than in one single spot.
Should not restrict movement
You need to make sure that whatever pad you buy does not restrict your foot movement. Pads that are designed to hold feet stiffly in place can have negative effects and cause long-term damage to your feet, hips and even spine. You should always find pads that have been designed to be flexible while supporting feet in a natural way.
How to wear a metatarsal pad?
No matter what pad you have bought, you will need to make sure that you have it on correctly so it can work properly. Try on your pad with various sets of shoes to see how it feels. You might find it a little odd at first but you will quickly get used to it. The pad should be roughly the width of the bottom of your foot and should be held to your foot by an adhesive or a toe fastener.
If you find that your pad moves around too much then you can fasten it with duct tape. You should take special care to make sure that you don’t bind the tape too tightly. Remember that your foot spreads out as you walk which means you need to give it the freedom to do so.
If your pad is a little too wide then it is fine to trim the ends off using a set of sharp scissors. This will help it fit your shoe better and provided you don’t trim off too much, won’t affect the performance of the pad either.
Our Top Choice
DR JK- Ball of Foot Cushions, Metatarsal, and Neumeria Pads
This excellent pad comes top in customer feedback out of all the different pads we reviewed. The reason for this is simple, the pads fit easily into most shoes and provide an excellent level of pain reduction. Most users report upwards of 80% reduction in pain, while some claim to have had a total disappearance of pain while wearing these.
Dr. JK’s pad has been specifically designed to reduce metatarsal pain by redistributing the pressure over a wider area. It is a widely used orthotic pad that is recommended by doctors and specialists up throughout the USA.
The pads are T-shaped to give the best level of pressure support and help to relieve the pain that results from flattened metatarsal arches. This shape specifically reduces the burning sensation that comes from incorrectly positioned metatarsal heads.
They come with an adhesive backing that allows you to lock them firmly into a pair of shoes to prevent them from slipping around causing discomfort and a lack of grip. You will need to thoroughly clean the insides of your shoes before using them, after which they are guaranteed not to move so much as an inch.
They are made of a really soft gel that effortlessly absorbs high-pressure impacts and quickly distributes pressure around the foot. Another great thing about is gel is that is can be washed so that helps to prevent any unwanted smells.
|Can be used for||metatarsal pain and blisters, ball of foot pain, aching feet and neuroma|
|Rating||(4.8 / 5)|
- Comes with 2 different pairs of pads. 1 – Ball of Foot Metatarsal Cushions. 2 -Gel Ball of Foot Pads
- Great at relieving pain
- Made from durable medical grade gel
- Helps with metatarsal pain/blisters / ball of foot pain and aching feet
- Hard to wear with socks as they seem to make socks roll up
- Might move around when running or jogging
Dr. Frederick’s Original Half Toe Sleeve Metatarsal Pads
These pads are suitable for both men and women and are very similar in design to the Dr. JK set. They perform excellently for people who are looking for a set of pads to run, walk and even hike in. They are made from medical grade thermoplastic elastomer or TPE. This material is widely regarded in the industry as one of the best at absorbing pressure and redistributing it to other areas.
The pads are designed to be put on easily and have a non-slip material underneath that keeps them just where you need them inside the shoe. Pads that move around are the number one complaint from angry customers who have not got the results they desired. These pads hold firmly in place within the shoe and so provide the best level of protection whether being worn with socks or without.
Weighing only 7 ounces, with proportions of 5” x 7” x 1”, these pads don’t in any way feel noticeable when you have them on. The lightweight rubber material feels soft on the toes and won’t cause the blisters and discomfort that other pads do.
Users score these pads very highly because they do what they are meant to do. They provide a good level of pain relief while being really easy to wear. They fit most kinds of shoes from hiking boots to sandals and can be interchanged in only a matter of seconds. These are an excellent option for men or women who love putting on their shoes and hitting the outdoors.
|Material Type||thermoplastic elastomer (TPE)|
|Can be used for||corns , ingrown toenails , calluses , hammer toes, blisters, plantar fasciitis, metatarsal pain , broken toes , hallux valgus, mortons neuroma, bunions, tailor’s bunion|
|Rating||(4.7 / 5)|
- Half toe sleeve design
- Designed to provide metatarsal joint pressure relief and protection from blisters
- Made from thermoplastic elastomer (TPE)
- Easy slip-on design
- Excellent level of pain relief
- Can be worn with all types of shoes
- Do cause some sweating
- Move around a little more than the Dr. JK design
Dr.Seth Soft Metatarsal Gel Pads
If you are looking for a really comfortable set of pads that don’t move around whatsoever underfoot then this is definitely a great option. They are another top scoring pad in terms of customer satisfaction, mainly because of the fact that their design that overlaps 2 toes on the foot to prevent the pads from moving.
The design is essentially a flexible outer fabric that loops around the metatarsal portion of the foot. Its toe loops anchor the silicon pads underneath in position and therefore give the best possible protection. Why all metatarsal pads are not designed in this way is a mystery given that the pads don’t move at all with this approach. Though they are skin colored, the only drawback with this design is that the pads are not really suitable for open top shoes such as high heels as the material can be clearly seen.
For all other shoes, these are excellent given that they don’t suffer from pad movement, so the pads are always exactly where you need them when you put pressure on your feet. Ideal for all high-impact activities such as running, jumping and hiking they offer a great level of comfort and protection at all times.
The design has been praised for its effectiveness in treating calluses, Morton’s Neuroma, rheumatism and other types of foot discomfort.
|Can be used for||calluses, morton’s neuroma, rheumatism, other fore-foot discomfort and pain|
|Rating||(4.5 / 5)|
- No movement or slipping of the pads
- Made from soft silicone gel
- Excellent level of comfort
- Really effective shock absorption
- Anti-friction design won’t cause rubbing and calluses
- Flexible and durable fabric holds pads perfectly in place
- Washable and reusable
- One size fits all
- Designed for shoes to be worn under socks
- Not suitable for open top shoes such as sandals
- Not as easy to wash as other designs
Dr. Jill’s Felt Metatarsal Pads
At first glance, Dr. Jill’s metatarsal pads don’t look like they are going to make the cut. You will recall from the introduction the need for pads to cover the entire metatarsal region in order to distribute weight and pressure throughout the foot. These pads only cover a small fraction of this area and so seem like they wouldn’t be very effective. Surprisingly, however, they do just that and are extremely effective at relieving pain and making your day more comfortable.
They are an incredibly simple design that uses a basic adhesive to fit onto your foot. They don’t have a toe loop to attach to your foot and so don’t cause any discomfort or blisters after prolonged use. The small design means that they can be used with all shoe types and are ideal for people wanting to wear open top shoes such as high heels.
The only drawback with this design is that as soon as your feet start to sweat or move around inside your shoe it is not long until the adhesive comes loose and they start to move around. As a result, we would recommend these as only light use pads for quick trips into town or times when you want to show off your feet.
- Easy to wear
- Adhesive back to prevent movement
- 1/4″ Premium Felt
- Adhesive doesn’t prevent the pads from moving around nearly as effectively as the other designs on this list
PowerStep Metatarsal Cushions
Our final set of pads is more like an insole than actual pad. Though there are a few better remaining pads at relieving pain, we thought it a good idea to include these to give you a good idea of what’s out there.
Due to the thickness and design of these cushions, they are not as effective at relieving pain and discomfort as the pads we have featured here. This is not to say that they are not still really decent at reducing discomfort and pain though, because they are. They have been designed to relieve metatarsal pains and so work in the same way as pads by distributing pressure over a larger area of the foot.
The main advantage of these cushions is that they have been designed to fit specific sizes of shoes, so they don’t move around at all. Since the pads don’t work properly if they are not in the right position, it is vital that they are always in the right placement. This design not only ensures this but also allows for the other parts of the foot to receive protection.
These are definitely the best option for people who suffer from only mild levels of pain and who like to walk, run and hike long distances.
|Material Type||poron (microcellular polyurethane)|
|Can be used for||ball-of-foot pain, metatarsalgia|
|Rating||(4.3 / 5)|
- Made from microcellular polyurethane
- Cushions weight in your forefoot so they spread it evenly
- Self-adhesive backing
- Fits most shoes and foot sizes, including flat feet
- Not as absorbent or as effective at relieving pain as other designs here
- Not so easy to change between shoes as pad design
- Not suitable for some types of shoes such as sandals