Pain in the ball of the foot, under the toes—the metatarsal joints—is known as metatarsalgia. It can limit your movement and make everyday activities more uncomfortable.
While the best prevention and treatment for metatarsalgia is to change your shoes to a pair that’s supportive and well-cushioned, what about wearing sandals in warmer weather?
Sandals aren’t the most supportive shoes, but we’ve reviewed the best sandals for metatarsalgia so you can wear what you like without feeling pain or discomfort.
The Keen SOLR is our top choice. It has an upper that is resistant to water and abrasion, a cushioned EVA footbed, and uses a lace bungee locker for a tighter lockdown.
Let’s have a look at all the shoes that you can comfortably wear if you have metatarsalgia.
Top 3 Best and Favorites
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Spenco Kholo Plus
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1. KEEN SOLR
The KEEN SOLR sandal is an excellent choice for individuals who suffer from metatarsalgia.
An EVA midsole provides lightweight cushioning and shock absorption, reducing pressure on the foot. It also helps disperse weight evenly so that there’s no vibration in the foot and joints.
An EVA footbed on top of the midsole adds another layer of cushion. It’s designed to offer arch support so the foot stays in natural alignment. It’s also treated with unique probiotic technology to prevent the growth of odor-causing bacteria.
The sandals sport an open TPU upper that is resistant to water and abrasion, as well as being quick-drying. These sandals can easily be used on any terrain.
The toe box is enclosed and features a rubber toe cap for improved protection and support. Just note that some buyers felt that the toe box is a little too narrow for their feet.
These sandals use a bungee lacing system instead of traditional laces, which is convenient and helps you get a custom fit. There’s a pull tab on the heel as well as on the tongue, to help get your foot in and out easily.
To help you keep a sure footing on all surfaces, the non-marking Aquagrip rubber outsole is peppered with small but effective lugs for improved grip.
On the forefoot and heel, you’ll find smoother sections—AquaStop—which vary the texture on the sole and help to provide the best grip possible.
- Water and abrasion-resistant upper
- Lace bungee locker
- Cushioned EVA footbed
- Aquagrip rubber outsole
- Some people may find that the toe box is narrow
Top Flip-Flop Style
2. Vionic Wave
If you enjoy wearing flip flops but have trouble finding a pair that offers good support, then the Vionic Wave could be right for you.
The footbed has been biomechanically designed to cater to individuals who need strong arch support, and is made from firm but not uncomfortable medium-density EVA.
This is effective at controlling overpronation and supporting people with high arches. Individuals with a neutral foot may find that the arch support feels too rigid for them. It’s also excellent at absorbing impact and protecting the joints.
A deep heel cup with Orthaheel technology helps to keep your foot properly aligned while you walk. Light padding in the forefoot also provides more support for the metatarsals, which can help to alleviate pain.
The mesh webbing strap is light and lined with neoprene for comfort. Both the strap and the toe post are lightly cushioned for comfort.
A thermoplastic rubber outsole also offers good traction on both dry and wet surfaces. It has a wave-patterned texture underneath and is highly durable.
- Padded forefoot section
- Biomechanically-designed footbed
- Deep heel cup
- Thermoplastic rubber outsole
- Some people may find the arch support to be a bit too rigid
3. Spenco Kholo Plus
These slip-on sandals have a soft PU upper with a mesh lining to wick away moisture, which is ideal for hot weather.
A compression-molded EVA footbed is contoured to deliver Orthotic Arch Support, forefoot cushioning, and also includes a metatarsal dome for support where you need it most.
The heel-to-toe drop is just 5 mm, which also reduces pressure on the forefoot. A deep heel cup keeps the foot in position and offers good cushioning in the heel for shock absorption. The Total Support Cushioning System adds extra memory foam cushion to the footbed for even better impact absorption.
The 2-part outsole is non-marking and non-slip and features light tread that’s designed to keep you safe on a variety of surfaces.
- Soft, synthetic upper
- Orthotic Arch Support
- Molded EVA footbed
- Metatarsal dome
- There are no co color variations available
4. NAOT Mikael (men’s), Mikaela (women’s)
The NAOT Mikael and Mikaela have been accepted by the APMA—American Podiatric Medical Association—as shoes that promote good foot health.
If you’re looking for a slip-resistant shoe, the NAOT is a good choice. A 1.5-inch polyurethane sole offers excellent grip and is also lightweight and durable.
A leather upper offers better external support than most sandals, while still being extremely breathable.
On both the men’s and the women’s shoes, the straps are wide and prevent pressure points on the bridge of the foot. They feature adjustable buckles to get a good fit across the foot without being too tight.
NAOT uses a cork and latex footbed, which they wrap in suede for a soft, luxurious experience. Take note that individuals with a latex allergy should avoid these shoes, even though the latex is covered.
The footbed contours to the shape of your foot, and it’s wide enough to disperse pressure evenly across the foot. This helps to limit shock from every step. It also uses something called Hallux Support, which cups the big toe and provides a stable foothold.
In the center of the footbed, there’s an elevated section that provides subtle arch support and helps keep the foot in the right position, preventing unnecessary pressure on joints.
A deep heel cup stabilizes the foot and the insole is also removable to add a custom insole if needed.
- Soft, leather upper
- Anatomical cork and latex footbed
- Suede-covered footbed
- Slip-resistant traction outsole
- Individuals with a latex allergy won’t be able to use these shoes
Best Leather Sandals
5. Propét Jace (men)
Leather is highly durable and supportive, and it’s also a classic style.
The Propét Jace men’s sandal features a waxy nubuck leather upper with 4 straps running across the bridge of the foot. It’s a slip-on sandal but has an adjustable strap to allow for easy tightening.
Inside the straps is a microfiber lining for comfort when walking. The toe box is wide and lets your toes flex comfortably without being restricted. A padded footbed offers light cushioning but has good arch support and a cushioned heel for shock absorption.
The footbed is removable, so if you have a custom insole that works better for you it’s easy to add it into this shoe.
- Waxy nubuck upper
- Removable insole
- Wide toe box
- Soft microfiber lining
- Those with narrow feet may find that the adjustable strap is too long when tightened
6. Propét June (women)
The Propét June is the ladies’ leather sandal and also has a full-grain leather upper.
Two hook-and-loop straps allow for a custom fit and are wide enough to prevent hotspots and pressure points. An open toe and heel design allow for maximum breathability and odor resistance.
The heel is cushioned to provide shock absorption, and the removable footbed allows means you can use your own orthotics if you want to. A lightweight polyurethane outsole offers added impact absorption and good grip while walking.
- Full-grain leather
- Two wide hook-and-loop straps
- Cushioned heel
- Removable footbed
- These shoes may be too wide for those with narrow feet
7. Teva Omnium 2
These shoes are hiking sandals. They offer the support and protection of closed shoes, but the breathability of sandals.
You can get them with a leather upper but the quick-drying synthetic upper is more common.
A wide toe box helps the toes to rest naturally, while built-in arch support keeps your feet in the optimal position to relieve pain. The footbed is not removable, so if you need custom orthotics you won’t be able to use them in these shoes.
Instead of traditional laces, there’s a bungee cord system, which makes it easy to get a good fit. There’s also an adjustable ankle strap with a plastic buckle that helps you to get a more precise fit to your foot.
An EVA foam midsole lightly cushions the foot upon every step, and a nylon shank prevents the foot from rolling on rocky terrain. ShocPad technology in the heel offers extra shock absorption.
The Spider Rubber outsole has a subtle texture that’s designed to keep you safe on your feet in wet weather. It’s also extremely durable. Microban treatment also keeps your feet fresh.
- Quick-drying synthetic upper
- EVA foam midsole
- Microban treatment
- Spider Rubber outsole
- The footbed is not removable for custom orthotics
Best Adjustable Fit
8. OrthoFeet Cambria (men’s), Malibu (women’s)
With three adjustable straps—two over the foot and one behind the heel— both the OrthoFeet Cambria and the Malibu are a good choice for individuals who need an adjustable fit.
The straps allow for a wide opening that can accommodate swollen feet or those with a high bridge. They are also available in medium, wide, and extra-wide.
There’s plenty of room for toes to splay naturally, and the foot is supported with orthopedic arch support and a padded heel. For those who need custom inserts, the insole of both shoes is removable.
The upper is made of leather and has a soft inner lining that’s also antimicrobial. A flexible outsole makes these easy to walk in. A lightly treaded outsole provides traction and stability.
- Wide opening, adjustable straps
- Contoured footbed
- Antimicrobial lining
- Flexible outsole
- Some people may find that the Velcro on the back strap doesn’t extend long enough to close properly
Top For Going Out
9. Naot Lappland (men)
These smart men’s sandals have an upper made from Italian leather, which is classy and sturdy. The three-strap design allows plenty of ventilation, and the two top straps are hook-and-loops that allow for a customized fit.
The footbed is made from cork and latex, which makes it shock-absorbent but it may not be suitable for those with a latex allergy. It’s wide and comfortable and distributes body weight evenly in order to reduce hotspots and take strain off feet and ankles. It also has a very small heel-to-toe drop, reducing pressure on the metatarsals.
Hallux support, a deep heel cup, and an elevated midfoot section provide support and prevent the foot from moving around on the footbed. This also creates good arch support which keeps the foot aligned.
The PU rubber outsole is resistant to erosion and flexible enough for comfortable walking.
- Italian leather upper
- Cork and latex footbed
- Hook-and-loop closure
- Removable insole
- May not be suitable for those who are allergic to latex
10. Naot Kayla (women)
The Kayla is a women’s sandal with a stylish Italian leather upper that comes in a range of colors.
Two straps across the forefoot hold the foot in place, while a heel strap prevents unnecessary movement. A hook-and-loop strap across the bridge of the foot makes it easy to put take these on and off.
The footbed is designed to be shock-absorbing and offer light cushioning underfoot. It also has built-in arch support, a deep heel cup and Hallux support to keep the foot in place.
The PU rubber outsole is light and flexible. A 1 ¼-inch heel is moderate enough to not place much pressure on the forefoot, relieving pain in the metatarsals. These shoes have been accepted by the APMA as healthy shoes for your feet.
The Kayla may run narrow, so it’s advisable to order a size larger if you want a more roomy fit.
- Italian leather upper
- Supportive anatomical structure
- Suede lining
- APMA Seal of Acceptance
- These shoes can run narrow
Best For Women
11. Aetrex Jillian Braided Quarter Strap
Ladies who are looking for something pretty that will help to relieve metatarsal pain will appreciate the Aetrex Jillian. It’s an APMA-approved shoe that’s recommended for those with foot pain.
The upper is made of full-grain leather and features a unique braided design and eye-catching buttons. Across the toe and at the ankle, the straps are adjustable so you can get a comfortable and snug fit.
A cork midsole provides excellent shock absorption and doesn’t add a lot of weight to the shoe. These shoes come with the Aetrex Orthotic System, which features structured arch support.
Some may find that the arch support feels misplaced, but it’s been approved by a doctor to help with foot pain and it may take some time to adjust to.
More cushioning is provided by a memory foam footbed, which is not removable. It uses Aegis technology to prevent odor-causing bacteria.
One of the best things about this shoe is the Met Bar Pod, which helps to relieve discomfort and pain in the ball of the foot—metatarsals. With a heel height of 1 ⅛-inch, you won’t be placing too much pressure on your forefoot as you walk.
The EVA sole keeps you safe on your feet on a number of different surfaces by providing impressive grip thanks to small, flower-shaped lugs on the forefoot and a larger single lug on the heel.
- Full-grain leather upper
- Built-in Aetrex Orthotic System
- Met Bar Pod
- Cork midsole
- The arch support placement may take time to get used to
What Is Metatarsalgia and What Are The Causes?
Metatarsalgia is the general medical term to describe pain in the ball of the foot.
It occurs in the metatarsals—the joints just underneath the toes. This area of the foot bears your weight when standing, walking, running and jumping, and can become inflamed easily if not taken care of.
Metatarsalgia can be caused by a number of different things. The most common cause of pain in the ball of the foot is wearing footwear that doesn’t offer the right support for your foot. This can lead to placing unnecessary pressure on the ball of the foot, which can worsen the pain of metatarsalgia.
Doing high-impact activities like plyometrics or playing sports like basketball can be the cause of metatarsalgia. These activities involve impact on the ball of the foot.
Those with arthritis are also more at risk of developing metatarsalgia.
What Are The Most Common Treatments or Preventions?
The best way to prevent and treat metatarsalgia is to change your footwear.
Avoid high heel shoes or shoes with a high heel-to-toe drop, as these place extra pressure on the metatarsals. You should choose flat shoes with a wide toe box so the toes have room to splay.
The shoes should also be well-cushioned to absorb impact. Should you find that the shoes you chose are not adequately cushioned or don’t support your feet as well as you would like, you can purchase insoles or get a podiatrist to create a custom orthotic for your feet.
Try to maintain a healthy weight to reduce the amount of force on the feet when standing, walking, or running. A healthy diet and regular physical exercise—low-impact—can help to reduce your weight if necessary.
There is no cure for metatarsalgia but the condition can be managed. When you feel pain in the ball of your foot, the first thing you should do is rest your feet. The RICE principle is effective for home treatment of metatarsalgia:
Elevate your feet to encourage better circulation, which can help to alleviate swelling and reduce inflammation. Compression socks can also help with recovery from metatarsalgia.
Exercise—especially high-impact activities—should be avoided until the feet feel better. You can take part in low-impact sports like swimming, rowing, or cycling until they’re able to do other exercises again.
Over-the-counter painkillers or anti-inflammatories can be effective for reducing pain and swelling.
What Shoes Should You Look For?
The best shoes for metatarsalgia should have a wide toe box to allow your toes enough room to splay naturally. Forefoot cushioning is welcomed, to comfort and cushion the metatarsals.
The shoes should be lightweight and breathable. Individuals who overpronate will need to choose a shoe with stability features so their feet are properly supported.