In my last post I talked about 2 good examples of people with metatarsal (MT) pain. Even though these two people had very different feet, they had a similar problem: TOO MUCH PRESSURE.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (just a pedorthist…har har) to figure out that if too much pressure is the cause of the issue, reducing the pressure ought to make it better.  Makes sense, right?

So, how do we reduce the pressure on the MT heads? Actually, it is more a matter of distributing the pressure evenly.

Look at it this way: have you ever been strapped to a backboard to ride in an ambulance? Your body is tightly secured onto a rigid surface. You cannot shift around to get comfortable; you begin to notice that the back of your head is pressed into the hard plastic, your shoulder-blades hurt, your tailbone aches and the back of your heels feel like they are being crushed. You cannot wait to be allowed to move again.

Now, picture yourself in a hammock. Your body is resting in a cocoon of comfort, the fabric of the hammock molds itself to your shape and you can relax without the pain of excess pressure in any one place.

This is sort of what needs to happen for your feet.  Most surfaces that we spend our time walking on are hard and flat (like the spine board), it is no wonder that areas of high pressure develop. People with excess MT pressure need supportive cushioning (like the hammock, if you will).

Let’s keep this simple. There are lots of shoe, sandal and orthotic options that can provide the things you need. You can choose for yourself, but be sure to look for the following features:

  • The surface your foot is stepping on should be soft but durable
  • It should be appropriately shaped for your foot (Custom orthotics are made uniquely for you from a cast of your feet – that’s what makes them custom…but, even if you are buying something off the shelf, do your best to find an insert that matches your foot shape .)

  • Your footwear should encourage proper alignment of your foot; not allowing for your foot to pronate (roll in) or Supinate (roll out)

  • Last but not least: the secret weapon to relieving MT pain and pressure is to support the metatarsal arch. (Look back at part 1 of this blog for a review of where the metatarsal arch is located **Hint: it is not McDonalds** )This support is achieved by adding a little bubble of soft squishy material right behind the MT heads to help take some of the load. The picture below is an example of a pretty good off the shelf orthotic that has this feature.

MT pain is no fun. The next time your feet are killing you, ask yourself if your feet are “strapped into a backboard” or “relaxing in a hammock”. Remember: a good way to reduce pain is to distribute the pressure.

Picture Sources:

Walk well.