Metatarsalgia is a painful inflammation in the ball of the foot.
Many different foot conditions fall under the umbrella of metatarsalgia, but it’s often used as a general term to describe inflammation in the metatarsals, whatever the cause.
The best shoes for metatarsalgia should be designed to protect and cushion the forefoot. We have chosen the ASICS GT-1000 10 as our top choice. It has a plush Ortholite last, a widened forefoot, and two types of cushioning technology.
Let’s get into the full list of shoes that will alleviate forefoot pain.
Top 3 Best and Favorites
ASICS GT-1000 10
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Hoka One One Clifton 8
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Altra Torin 5
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1. ASICS GT-1000 10
The ASICS GT-1000 10 is a stability shoe. It uses the DUOMAX support system, which is a dual-density midsole that provides stronger support on the medial side, encouraging your foot to stay in a neutral position instead of collapsing inward.
The other part of the midsole is made of FLYTEFOAM. It’s engineered to be 55 percent lighter than other midsole foams. It also utilizes organic super fibers which don’t flatten out as quickly as others, preserving the life and spring of your midsole.
GEL technology in the heel provides shock absorption. It’s particularly helpful for those who land on their heels, as it also prevents shock from vibrating through to the forefoot.
An 8mm heel-to-toe drop reduces pressure on the forefoot, which can alleviate or prevent the pain of metatarsalgia. An Ortholite lasting is plush and comfortable as well as being highly breathable, which contributes to its moisture-control properties.
The upper is made of jacquard mesh and is lightweight, highly breathable, and provides support and stability thanks to its synthetic overlays.
The highly durable AHAR Plus outsole uses integrated Guidance Line technology with a Guidance Trusstic System. This is a vertical flex groove running the length of the shoe. This helps to guide your foot into the proper gait, while the forefoot flex grooves improve your forefoot’s flexibility.
- Multi-directional, Jacquard mesh upper
- DUOMAX support system
- Responsive FLYTEFOAM midsole cushioning
- Plush, Ortholite lasting
- The sizing seems to be a bit inconsistent
2. Hoka One One Clifton 8
Hoka One One shoes are the most cushioned on the market. The Clifton 8 is a neutral shoe that offers exceptional comfort.
It features a full-length footbed made from EVA foam, which significantly improves shock absorption and cushions the metatarsals.
The shoe itself is also extremely light—8 ounces—so it won’t contribute to foot fatigue. The flat last and 5mm heel-to-toe drop alleviates a significant amount of pressure on the forefoot, reducing pain in the metatarsals.
There’s also an early-stage meta-rocker in these shoes. This reduces the amount of strain and fatigue on the foot that could lead to going off-form and placing pressure on the forefoot.
Other features that are not necessarily helpful for metatarsalgia but are nice to have include a handy pull-tab on the heel, a flexible, high-abrasion rubber outsole, and a heel crash pad for flexibility underfoot.
These shoes are extremely well-cushioned, but they may be too soft which results in some mushy responsiveness.
- Plush, EVA foam midsole cushioning
- Early-stage Meta-Rocker
- Low heel-to-toe drop of 5mm
- Flexible, traction outsole
- Some people may feel that the midsole is too soft
Best Wide Toe Box
3. Altra Torin 5
The Altra Torin has two specific features that make it an excellent choice for individuals with metatarsalgia—a roomy toe box and a zero heel-to-toe drop. The stack height of 28mm keeps you feeling stable and low to the ground.
The FootShape toe box is a unique innovation that’s designed to let the toes spread out in a natural way. This also prevents pressure on the sides of the forefoot, which could aggravate metatarsalgia.
A zero-drop platform alleviates pressure on the forefoot when walking or running. Instead of leaning slightly forwards like most shoes, the forefoot and heel are at the same height, dispersing pressure evenly across the foot.
The Altra EGO midsole is soft enough to provide comfort but delivers good energy return at the same time. A 5mm Premium Sculpted Footbed adds extra cushioning and support.
The forefoot is fairly flexible, thanks to InnerFlex midsole technology—a series of flex grooves—and FootPod outsole technology, which is designed to move naturally with the bones and tendons of the feet.
- 5mm sculpted footbeds
- Altra EGO midsole
- Footshape toe box
- Lightweight, engineered mesh upper
- Some people may find the tongue to be a little stiff
Top Lightweight Hiking Shoe
4. New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro V6
Those who enjoy hiking but suffer from pain due to metatarsalgia would benefit from this shoe. The New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v6 is a trail running shoe that is perfect for hiking if you want forefoot support.
An 8mm heel-to-toe drop provides good cushion in the heel but isn’t so high that excessive pressure is placed on the forefoot.
The HypoSkin upper is made of synthetic material that’s supportive and contours to your foot, while remaining breathable. Toe Protect features extra rubber on the toe for protection.
The Fresh Foam midsole delivers excellent cushioning from toe to heel. It’s lightweight but still has a plush feeling. A Vibram MegaGrip rubber outsole has sticky rubber lugs underneath to keep you safe and stable on any terrain.
These shoes do run a bit narrow so you may need to order a wide size.
- Synthetic HypoSkin upper
- Toe Protect technology
- Sticky rubber lugs
- Ultra-cushioned midsole
- These shoes run narrow
Best For Hiking
5. Altra Lone Peak Hiker
Individuals who need extra ankle support when hiking should consider the Altra Lone Peak Hiker. Their ankle is cushioned and higher-than-average, providing support when on uneven terrain.
They also feature the traditional Altra Zero Drop platform and their unique spacious FootShape toe box, as well as other features that protect the foot when walking over rough terrain
The Balanced Cushioning system alleviates high-impact landings on the forefoot, reducing pain and pressure. Altra EGO midsoles minimize shock and offer light responsiveness both on the trails and on flat ground.
The DuraTread outsoles provide strong grip on rocky and gravelly terrain. The soles also feature Trailclaw, which is a special tread placed beneath the metatarsals. This not only offers a little extra cushioning, but it also gives extra strong grip to the forefoot.
These shoes are created with gender-specific shapes. The women’s features Fit4Her technology, which is designed specifically for the anatomical differences in a women’s foot.
The shoes tend to run narrow so if you hike with thick socks you may need to order one size larger.
- Gender-specific shape
- Balanced Cushioning
- Trailclaw technology
- Zero-drop platform
- Some people may find this shoe to be narrow
Top Waterproof Shoe
6. Saucony Peregrine 11 GTX
If you need a waterproof shoe that’s also great for metatarsalgia, the Saucony Peregrine 11 GTX may be the ideal shoe for you.
It looks just like a normal running or walking shoe, but the addition of a Gore-Tex layer makes these sporty shoes water-resistant.
Whether you live in a place that rains a lot or you’re out on wet trails every weekend, the Peregrine 11 GTX will keep your feet warm and dry. The Gore-Tex layer is light and hardly noticeable.
A 4mm heel drop ensures that no unnecessary pressure is placed on the forefoot. The PWRRUN+ cushioning is more responsive than soft, though it may feel a bit stiff for walkers.
There’s a rock plate in the sole, which could contribute to the stiff feeling. But it protects the foot from rocks, stones, and other hazards underfoot. The PWRTRAC tacky rubber outsole features strategically-shaped 5mm lugs to grip any kind of terrain.
- 4mm heel-to-toe drop
- GORE-TEX Invisible Fit technology
- PWRTRAC rubber outsole with 5mm lugs
- Responsive, PWRRUN+ midsole cushioning
- The shoe is slightly heavy, at 11 ounces
Best For The Office
7. Apex Lexington Cap Toe Oxford
When you need a smart shoe that also offers metatarsal support, the Apex Lexington Cap Toe Oxford is a good choice. It has a full-grain leather upper which provides subtle support and also looks professional.
It has a wide toe box with a reinforced toe for extra safety. They are designed for diabetic feet, so they provide little opportunity to chafe or cause pressure points. The platform is also fairly flat—featuring an anatomical last—so there’s no unnecessary pressure on the forefoot.
You can insert a custom orthotic if necessary, as the vamp opens wide. The advanced EVA insole is removable to allow space for your own insole. It also provides some shock absorption.
A rigid heel counter also keeps the heel stable and prevents the foot from sliding forward and aggravating the metatarsals.
The midsole and outsole are one unit, made of polyurethane for impact absorption and good underfoot grip.
- Wider and reinforced toe boxes
- Full-grain leather upper
- Rigid heel counter
- Removable EVA insole
- The color may differ from what you see online
8. OrthoFeet Chelsea
This women’s dress shoe offers a subtle platform drop and a large toe box for extreme comfort. Your toes can splay naturally and you won’t be putting your weight on your forefoot. They’re also available in medium, wide, and extra-wide so there’s a shoe for everyone and they can accommodate swollen feet.The napa leather upper is professional-looking and supportive. It features an extra-long strap that can be adjusted to suit your foot. Once it’s been set, the shoe can be slipped on and off easily.
It’s equipped with orthotic insoles that provide arch support. There are also two spacers included in this shoe—2mm and 3mm—which provide extra cushioning but can be removed to make space for a custom orthotic.
The EVA midsole cushions the entire foot. The outsole has a Toe-Spring design, which softens impact in the forefoot and properly the foot forward without excess pressure on the forefoot.
These shoes can run small so you may want to order a size larger.
- Supple leather upper
- Lightweight EVA midsole
- Anatomical orthotic insoles
- Removable spacers
- These shoes can run small
9. Dansko Wayne
This men’s slip-on is also professional-looking and easy on the feet. The leather upper adds an element of support. A low heel-to-toe drop keeps the pressure evenly dispersed so there’s less force on the forefoot.
A tri-density EVA footbed keeps your feet comfortable. It’s removable to add a custom insole to the shoe for better arch support.
The polyurethane midsole is shock-absorbent and protects your metatarsals from being jarred and your foot from becoming overly fatigued. A slip-resistant outsole keeps you safe and prevents slipping or twisting that could further injure one’s already-tender foot.
This shoe has also received the APMA—American Podiatric Medical Association—Seal of Acceptance. This is only awarded to shoes that have proven to improve foot health.
These shoes run slightly wide but it can be fixed by wearing slightly thicker socks. If you want to wear these with thin socks, it may be worth going a half-size smaller.
- Slip-on leather loafer
- Removable footbed
- Shock absorbent PU midsole
- (APMA) Seal of Acceptance
- These shoes can run wide
10. Drew Breezy
The Drew Breezy features a stretchable upper and two adjustable straps that make it easy to get a good fit and slip this shoe on and off whenever you want to. It has a rocker bottom which helps alleviate forefoot pressure and reduce foot fatigue.
The Velcros straps on the vamp and heel allow for a custom fit. The upper is also slightly stretchable which is excellent as it can accommodate a swollen forefoot. A wide and comfortable toe box gives you plenty of space and a heel cup keeps the foot from moving around and possibly aggravating pain.
The contoured footbed is cushioned, especially in the heel. It absorbs shock and reduces foot strain. It is also easy to remove to use another insole. The shoe is extra-depth too, so most orthotics should fit comfortably.
A doeskin lining keeps the feet warm and comfortable. Surprisingly, these shoes weigh less than 6 ounces each, so they’re ideal for home wear while recovering from a bout of metatarsalgia.
- Contoured footbeds
- Stretch microsuede and fabric upper
- Deep, rounded toe box
- Strong nylon shank
- May run small
11. Rockport Edge Hill 2
These shoes have a casual look but they’re made from leather for a supportive, water-resistant, and durable upper. They would be suitable for casual outings when some extra support for metatarsalgia pain is needed.
Inside the shoe, the fabric lining is breathable and soft. A padded tongue and collar keep your feet comfortable and supported. The base is wide and the toe box is generous.
The EVA midsole protects the foot from heel to toe. It absorbs impact and relieves the metatarsals of stress on every footstrike. A memory foam footbed contours to the foot and is removable to make way for a custom insert.
The shoes use truTech and truTech+ padding which offer extra cushion in the heel. A slip-resistant rubber outsole prevents slips that could end up hurting your metatarsals.
- Soft leather upper
- Padded tongue and collar
- Removable EVA and Memory Foam
- truTech and truTech+ padding
- The leather upper may be less breathable than other shoes
12. Trotters Avrille
The Avrille comes in a number of different designs, including leather, suede, and fabric. They also come in a variety of colors. It’s a casual-looking shoe that offers support as well as style.
A straight last gives this shoe a natural, balanced cushion that doesn’t place extra pressure on the forefoot. It also offers good padded support around the ankle to prevent the foot from moving in the shoe.
To keep your forefoot comfortable and pain-free, these shoes feature a spacious toe box—both deep and wide. The insoles feature an antimicrobial lining, arch support, and a medial post in the rearfoot to prevent overpronation.
The contoured footbeds offer luxurious cushioning underfoot. They can be removed and substituted with custom orthotics. If you do wish to use the insoles, they offer shock-absorbing support that will keep your joints from being jarred.
- Soft, comfortable upper
- Medial rearfoot posting
- Removable footbeds
- Antimicrobial lining
- These shoes run slightly small
13. OrthoFeet Clearwater
At first glance, these sandals look like everyday shoes. They are built to be rugged and they offer therapeutic features that ease the pain of metatarsalgia. It’s designed specifically to relieve symptoms of a number of different foot conditions.
The heel is around 0.25 inches, making the heel-to-toe drop very small, which eases pressure on the forefoot. With the easy-open vamp, quick-lace system and two adjustable straps, these shoes can accommodate swollen feet easily.
This wide opening also allows the insole to be removed for custom inserts. There are two spacers inside the shoe, which can be left in or removed to make extra space.
On top of the spacers, an Ortho-Step insole cradles your arch supportively and it also features a deep heel cup. This allows the foot to stay in position and not move in the shoe, which could aggravate the metatarsals.
The Ergonomic-Stride outsole offers extra shock-absorption and good grip.
- Features anatomical arch support
- Ergonomic-Stride cushioning
- DryPlex anti-odor fabric
- Deep heel cup
- The outsole may wear out quickly if you walk a lot
14. OrthoFeet Laguna
These ladies’ sandals also look very similar to a regular shoe. The stretch knit upper is soft on the feet and very breathable. These shoes are engineered specifically to alleviate foot pain.They feature orthotic insoles with strong, anatomical arch support. This is excellent for overpronators and will also alleviate pressure on the metatarsals caused by the foot collapsing inwards.
A rocker sole design helps to reduce fatigue in the foot muscles by propelling the wearer forward with less effort. The midsole also absorbs shock and gently cushions the foot on every step.
Those with metatarsalgia will appreciate the wide toe box and the soft, padded interior. They run large, so buy a half-size smaller.
- Stretchable knit upper
- Anatomical arch support
- Mild rocker design
- Soft, padded shoe interior
- These shoes run large
What is Metatarsalgia and what are the causes?
Metatarsalgia is the name given to pain in the ball of the foot—metatarsals. The joints at the end of the metatarsal bones become inflamed and this can have a number of causes.
Overuse is a common cause as these bones bear the entire weight when standing. They are subjected to an even higher force when walking or running.
Ill-fitting or unsupportive footwear can also cause inflammation in the ball of the foot. If you do high-impact sports, your chances of developing metatarsalgia are higher. Conditions like arthritis can also lead to metatarsalgia.
What are the most common treatments or preventions?
If you’re feeling the pain of metatarsalgia, your best treatment is to use the RICE principle—rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Rest your feet as much as you can. Take a break from high-impact sports—try low-impact recovery sports like cycling or swimming—and put your feet up if you can.
Ice can help to alleviate swelling. Compression gear helps to stimulate blood circulation in the area, which helps to speed up healing. Elevating your foot above the level of your heart—this is easiest when lying down—can help excess fluid to drain away and reduce swelling.
If you experience this pain often, your footwear could be to blame. Try shoes with a low or zero heel-to-toe drop, as this will alleviate pressure on the forefoot when standing or moving.
Make sure you’re wearing the right shoe for your foot. Individuals who overpronate will need a stability shoe while those who don’t will need a neutral shoe.
Wearing the wrong shoe will force the foot into an unnatural position which could make the condition worse. If your shoe doesn’t have enough shock-absorption, try adding a shock-absorbing insole or orthotic.
Over-the-counter painkillers may help to relieve the ache while you find your ideal shoes and rest your feet.
One of the best ways to prevent metatarsalgia from flaring up is to maintain a healthy weight. If you are carrying extra weight, there’s extra strain on the feet—particularly the metatarsals—with every step.
What shoes should you look for?
The best shoes for metatarsalgia should have the following characteristics. A wide toe box will alleviate forefoot pressure and help to reduce pain. The shoes should be well-cushioned, especially in the forefoot.
They should be structurally stable to prevent the foot moving around within the shoes and possibly being improperly aligned. The shoes should also be breathable and lightweight to keep your feet as comfortable as possible.