If you are a runner, play sports that involve a lot of jumping, or wear high heels – you may notice a sharp, burning pain in the ball of your foot.
This is known as metatarsalgia—inflammation in the metatarsal joint, when a nerve gets caught in between the bones of the “knuckles” in the foot.
The good news is that wearing one of the best insoles for metatarsalgia can help relieve pain and prevent it from getting worse. Insoles help alleviate pressure on the metatarsal bones. They also cushion your step so that there’s less impact on painful spots.
We’ve chosen the Tread Labs Pace insoles as our best overall. They come with a molded arch support in four different heights, have interchangeable 5mm foam covers, and come with a Million Mile guarantee.
Here are all the insoles we recommend to relieve metatarsalgia.
Top 3 Best and Favorite
1. Tread Labs Pace Insoles
Tread Labs insoles are unique in that they come in a two-piece system—an arch support and a foam top cover.
The molded arch support comes in four different arch heights—low, medium, high, and extra-high—so you can find the best support for your foot. It is also covered by a Million Mile guarantee, so if it ever breaks the company will replace it with no questions asked.
On top of the molded arch support, you’ll find a 5mm layer made of polyurethane foam. This gives you extra cushioning which helps reduce impact on every step. The foam layer is treated with PURE antimicrobial treatment so your feet will always smell fresh.
When the top layer of your Pace insoles wears out or becomes flattened due to use, you don’t have to replace the whole insole. You can just remove the top layer from the molded arch support, and replace that foam layer. This is not only cheaper than buying a whole new insole, but it’s also better for the environment.
Remove your shoes’ insoles and replace them completely with the Pace insole. There is a possibility that you may not order the right arch height when you first order these insoles. Also, some users find that the insole squeaks when it is inside their shoe.
- Million Mile guarantee
- Molded arch support
- PURE antimicrobial treatment
- Interchangeable foam top cover
- Some may find that the insole squeaks in their shoe
2. Superfeet EVERYDAY Pain Relief
These insoles are a one-piece design, although you can easily see the arch support and the cushioning sections are separate.
They are made for foot pain relief. They have a biomechanical shape that conforms to your foot, catering for your specific foot.
These Superfeet insoles have a heel stabilizer insert. This keeps the insole from moving unnecessarily inside the shoe, which can contribute to foot pain. There is also an external heel stabilizer cap—made of EVOLyte carbon fiber—for durability and support. This helps to create a deep heel cup so the foot can stay stable on the insert.
As well as the heel cushioning, the full-length therapeutic foam layer on top follows the contours of your feet and adds some shock-absorbing properties. It is also covered with an antimicrobial coating to prevent bacteria from turning into foot odor.
It is a high-volume insole, so it will take up some space in your shoe and you will need to remove the insole that is already there in order for these to fit. Some people find that the top layer of the insole is very grippy and their socks stick to it and bunch up when they try to get their foot into the shoe.
- Biomechanical shape
- Foot bed contours to the foot
- Antimicrobial top
- Independant heel stabilizer
- The top coating of the insole is very grippy and some individuals may find that their socks stick to it when they try to slide their foot into the shoe
3. Protalus T100 Insoles
The Protalus T-series is their low-profile insole, which means it should fit comfortably in most pairs of shoes. We have chosen this one as the best for foot alignment, as it’s specifically made to bring the feet into a better position.
Protalus’ Tri-Planar system is used to prevent unnecessary foot movement and avoid unsafe ranges of motion. The design of the T100 cups the heel and stabilizes the subtalar joint, stopping you from overpronating. This keeps your ankle properly aligned with your heel.
There are two sections of cushion underneath, one under the heel and one under the forefoot. A heel shank offers extra support and prevents the foot from moving side-to-side. A full-length cushion—3mm—provides good cushioning for the metatarsals as well as the heel, absorbing shock effectively on every footstrike.
These insoles may take up to a week to break in and start feeling good. If you still have foot pain in the first few days after buying them, be patient and they should conform to your feet.
- Low-profile shape
- Tri-Planar alignment system
- 3 mm thick cushioning
- Patented heel cup
- They may take a few days to a week to break in before they start feeling good
4. Spenco Total Support Max
The Spenco Total Support Max is the insole you should be considering if you need substantial cushioning. They are comfortable as well as supportive.
Spenco’s 3-POD system uses multi-density foam impact zones to provide targeted cushioning. If you have a look underneath the insoles, you’ll find one red pod and two blue pods. These are designed to absorb shock on every footstrike and offer stability.
The red pod is situated on the inside of the heel and its job is to prevent overpronation. It is stiff and solid and adds stability to the medial side of the shoe.
There is one blue pod next to the red one on the heel, and one above it, running from the heel to the midfoot on the lateral side of the foot. These ones help to guide your foot into a natural gait and keep it properly aligned.
In the heel, a stability cradle wraps around your heel and provides support for the arch. One of the things that makes this insole good for metatarsalgia is that it has a metatarsal support pad which helps to reduce pressure on your forefoot.
The EVA layer above it molds to your foot and becomes more comfortable the more you wear it. It has been treated with Silpure antimicrobial material for more freshness. The forefoot is also perforated, which helps with breathability.
- Stability cradle
- Metatarsal support pad
- 3-POD System
- Silpure antimicrobial top cover
- The arch support may not be enough for some individuals
Best Stability With Met Pad
5. Powerstep Pinnacle Plus
The Powerstep Pinnacle Plus is a sturdy insole that provides a good combination of shock-absorbing cushion and stability.
They feature firm arch support that will take the pressure off the ball of the foot. A built-in metatarsal pad provides shock absorption and comfort where you need it most. As well as good arch support, these insoles have a stable heel cradle that helps to prevent unnecessary movement of the foot that could cause pain.
The insole uses Variable Cushioning Technology (VCT), which uses varying densities to offer support to vulnerable areas. As well as being supportive, the top layer of the foam insole is antimicrobial and frictionless.
- Built-in metatarsal pad
- VCT cushion layer
- Firm arch support
- Anti-microbial top fabric
- If they don’t fit into your shoes you can’t cut them to size
6. Vionic Relief Full Length Orthotic Inserts
When you have metatarsalgia, it can interfere with your daily life and leave you feeling worn out. These insoles are best for comfort, and they should help your feet to stay pain-free and comfortable no matter if you’re sitting behind a desk or on your feet all day.
The EVA foam layer is medium-density and delivers a combination of softness and support. A deep heel cup will keep the foot in position and stabilize it from the ground up.
Vionic’s Tri-Planar Motion Control technology provides strong arch support for overpronators, and keeps the feet in a stable and natural position that reduces the chances of injury due to misalignment.
Shock-absorbing pads in the heel and forefoot disperse pressure on every step. The nylon top cover enhanced with EcoFresh keeps your feet comfortable and fresh.
Be aware that these insoles may run half a size large, but you can always trim them to fit in your shoes.
- Heel and forefoot pad
- Tri-Plantar Motion Control
- Deep heel cup
- EcoFresh shield
- These insoles can run a half size bigger than your normal shoe size
7. New Balance Sport High Impact Insole
Not all insoles are great for playing sports in, but we highly recommend the New Balance Sport High Impact Insole.
It’s a robust insole that has a balanced mix of rigid arch support and comfortable cushion, offering relief from metatarsalgia while on the sports field.
These feature a sunken heel cup, which locks the foot in securely and reduces impact in the joints. A full forefoot pad makes landings easier and less painful, especially on the metatarsals.
These insoles use the classic Superfeet shape, and can be trimmed to fit into any pair of shoes you own. If you have wide feet you may find that these insoles don’t fit snugly into your shoes.
- Forefoot pad
- Firm arch support
- Deep heel cup
- Moisture-wicking fabric
- These insoles may not be effective for those with very high arches or wide feet
8. Sof Sole Athlete
These insoles are both well-cushioned and supportive, and well-priced.
Unlike most of the other insoles, the Sof Sole Athlete insoles use gel in their forefoot, which not only helps with your toe-off if you’re going to be running with these, but it also cushions your metatarsals, alleviates pressure, and eases pain.
It has a firm, neutral arch that will help to prevent overpronation. They also use Hydrologix moisture-wicking technology to keep your feet dry and comfortable.
If you are using these insoles while exercising (especially jumping rope), be aware that they may break easily due to their segmented design.
- Gel in the heel and forefoot
- Neutral arch
- Made from polyurethane foam
- Hydrologix moisture-wicking technology
- Due to their segmented design, these can break easily if used for exercise
Best Zero Drop/Sustainability
9. SOLE Performance Thick
If you prefer zero-drop shoes then these insoles might be the ones for you. Many other insoles will add a few millimeters of height when you place them inside your shoe, even if you have zero-drop shoes.
But these ones are zero-drop insoles that will keep your feet as flat as possible and place no pressure on the forefoot, relieving your metatarsals. They are also a sustainable choice, so if you are concerned about how your buying choices affect the environment, you can buy these guilt-free.
They are made from recycled wine corks, and the cork molds to any arch height so it’s suitable for any foot. The cork base is covered with 3.2mm of foam that’s treated with Polygiene technology for all-day freshness.
- 3.2mm of foam cushioning
- Customized fit
- Built-in metatarsal support pad
- Deep heel cup
- The cork of the insole can break down quickly if not properly looked after
Top For Fatigue
10. Currex SupportSTP Insoles
These insoles provide superior shock-absorption thanks to their Poron heel cushion, which reduces fatigue in the feet no matter how long you may be standing or walking. The perforated design of the insole also helps with impact absorption.
You can choose from three different arch heights, and the Dynamic Arch Technology allows the insole to conform to your foot for an almost custom fit. The deep heel cup also helps to keep the foot stable.
A charcoal and bamboo layer wicks away moisture and keeps odors away as well, so you can stay dry and fresh.
- Dynamic Arch Technology
- Poron heel cushion
- Three different arch profiles
- Bamboo and charcoal midlayer
- These insoles are quite expensive
What is metatarsalgia?
Metatarsalgia is when the bones underneath the soft fleshy part behind the toes—the metatarsals—become inflamed at the joint, leading to pain and swelling. It happens when the bones of the toes push against each other and catch a nerve in between them.
You will feel a sharp, burning pain in the ball of your foot. It can sometimes be an aching pain that lingers as well. The pain will usually get worse if you’re on your feet or if you flex your foot. You may also have a feeling of tingling or numbness in your toes, or it may feel like there is a stone in your shoe just behind your toes.
In some cases, it can show up as tenderness and non-specific pain in the forefoot. People who do activities that involve a lot of running or jumping are more at risk for developing metatarsalgia.
Do insoles help metatarsalgia?
Adding an insole to your shoes can help to relieve foot pain. Most of the time, insoles help for plantar fasciitis pain or to provide more support to those who need arch support.
You’ll find that some insoles have a metatarsal pad, and these are the ones that will be helpful for pain associated with metatarsalgia.
How can I treat metatarsalgia?
One of the first things you should do to treat metatarsalgia is to assess whether or not you are wearing the right kind of shoes.
You may need footwear with more cushioning, better arch support, or a lower heel-to-toe drop. You should avoid wearing high heels, as this places pressure on the ball of the foot.
You can also buy metatarsal pads to put in your shoe to relieve pressure and pain in the ball of the foot. Or you can buy an insole with a metatarsal pad built-in, which will also offer arch support.
If you can, try to rest your affected foot by elevating it after you’ve been walking or standing. Applying cold therapy to the affected area a few times a day can help to alleviate the pain. Do not keep an ice pack on your foot for more than 20 minutes at a time and make sure it is wrapped in a thin towel and not directly on your skin.
If the pain is severe, you may have to take a break from sports for a while. You can use low-impact cross-training like yoga or swimming to stay active while recovering. You can also use over-the-counter pain medication and anti-inflammatories like Advil, Aleve, or Aspirin.