Insoles for Metatarsalgia

Insoles for Metatarsalgia: 3 Pain-relieving Qualities of Metatarsal Pads

by Mark Paigen 7 minute read

Dig out your hiking and running shoes from the back of the closet. It’s time you said goodbye to metatarsalgia-related foot pain and got back to enjoying your favorite human-powered activities. 

Today we take a look at metatarsal pads and how they work to relieve foot pain. So if you have metatarsalgia (or other forefoot-related conditions), stick around.

The Basics

  • Metatarsal Support Pads are recommended for foot pain by podiatrists and other medical practitioners.
  • Metatarsal pads are proven to relieve discomfort caused by metatarsalgia, neuromas, bursitis of the feet and more.
  • Tread Labs offers medical-grade Insoles for Metatarsalgia at a fraction of the cost of custom inserts.

Check Out Tread Labs Metatarsal Support Pads

Table of Contents

What Are Metatarsal Pads?

Metatarsal pads, or met pads, are small soft devices used to alleviate the discomfort caused by metatarsalgia and other forefoot conditions like plantar warts and bursitis of the feet.

Met pads support your metatarsal bone by redistributing the pressure on the bone, thereby relieving any discomfort. As such, met pads are one of the best-recommended solutions for foot pain, and one of the quickest ways to get back on your feet pain-free.

“It’s all about the stress transfer, so what you’re trying to do is unload a certain spot on the foot—generally the met head with a met pad—and transfer it [the pressure] to a more proximal region.”
- Michael Mueller, PT, Ph.D.

Metatarsal Support Pads from Tread Labs

Important Features of Metatarsal Pads

Metatarsal pads can be made from different materials, but they all serve the same function—to support your feet and ease injurious pressure. Let’s take a look at the key features of metatarsal pads and the impacts they have. 

Hard Wearing Material for Long-Term Support 

Popular materials for metatarsal pads include:

  • Open-cell polyurethane foam: Provides sturdy, long-lasting cushioning for your feet 
  • Wool or polyester felt: Ideal if you’re looking for firm support
  • Latex and leather: Leather is used to reinforce the latex to provide adequate support
  • Gel: Effective at dissipating shock and thus a great option in metatarsal pads for runners

Dome Shape for Maximum Comfort

Metatarsal support pads come in a variety of shapes, with the most popular being:

  • Dome-shaped met pads
  • U-shaped met pads
  • Donut-shaped met pads

While testing these different met pad shapes on runners, a study found that dome-shaped metatarsal pads are the most effective at reducing pressure and are also the most comfortable. 

U-shaped met pads were the second most effective, while donut-shaped pads showed no significant changes. 

For clarity, here’s a table comparing the three met pad shapes.

Shape Comfort Level Support Durability
Dome-Shaped High Medium High
U-Shaped Medium High Medium
Donut-Shaped Low Low Low

Additionally, here are some important things to note:

  • Comfort level may vary depending on your specific needs and preferences.
  • Support refers to the amount of arch and metatarsal support provided. 
  • Durability refers to the longevity and resistance to wear. 

Adhesive to Keep the Pads in Place

Tread Labs met pad attached to an insole for metatarsalgia

Adhesive is essential to keeping your met pads from slipping off or moving around after installation, which will effectively render them useless. The most common methods used to keep metatarsal pads securely attached include:

  • Self-sticking adhesive to the bottom of your feet: This can be ineffective as the pads can slip off when you put on your shoes or when walking. Also, having met pads stuck to the bottom of your feet daily can become cumbersome. 
  • Self-sticking adhesive to your insoles: This is slightly better than having the pads stuck directly onto your foot. It also allows some separation between your feet and the pads through socks. This helps keep the met pads cleaner for longer.
  • Velcro attachment under your insoles: This is the best adhesive technique for metatarsal pads. Velcro will not lose its grip like other adhesives, and it allows you to adjust as much as needed to find the perfect placement. 

    This technique keeps the pads from moving every time you put on your shoes.

Expert Tip: At Tread Labs, we use the velcro technique thanks to its higher efficacy. Our Metatarsal Support Pads are specially designed to work with Tread Labs Insoles for Metatarsalgia for maximum comfort and support.

Benefits of Metatarsal Pads

1 - Metatarsal Pads Help Enhance Foot Comfort

For many people living with metatarsalgia, the simple act of putting on shoes is an inevitable source of pain and discomfort. Simply adding a metatarsal pad to your shoe can significantly enhance foot comfort

Met pads help your feet ensure that your body weight is distributed across the points in your foot designed to take on weight, such as the metatarsal heals and toes. They also encourage your feet to make the most of their natural cushioning

These simple changes usually mean the difference between debilitating discomfort and a pleasant footwear experience. 

See Also: How to Take Care of Your Feet - Foot Care Tips

2 - Metatarsal Pads Restore Ideal Forefoot Fat Pad Positioning

woman massaging her foot

The forefoot fat pad, or the pedal fat pad, refers to the layer of tissue typically located under the ball of your feet. Its job is to absorb shock, relieve pressure and protect the delicate structures in the balls of your feet. 

Understandably, the forefoot fat pad plays a key role in enabling activities such as standing, walking and running. 

However, when the fat pad is misaligned, perhaps due to an injury or condition like metatarsalgia, this causes significant discomfort.

Metatarsal pads help relieve this by encouraging the pedal fat pad to return and stay in place, supporting the metatarsal heads and other tissues in your feet. They do this by providing gentle upward pressure in the area behind the balls of your feet. 

This causes a compensatory downward movement in your toes and the pedal fat pad, moving it back into position.

See Also: Fun Facts About Feet: What to Know as You Age

3 - Metatarsal Pads Help Spread Your Metatarsal Heads

Metatarsal heads refer to the bony structures at the base of your toes, sometimes also known as the toe knuckles

Unfortunately, conventional shoe designs often squish the metatarsal heads together, leading to several problems in the sensitive structures that run alongside and in between the metatarsal heads. 

Over time this compression can impinge the nerves and blood vessels within your toe knuckles. 

Thankfully, using metatarsal pads can help spread the metatarsal heads, creating space for sensitive structures like nerves. If these nerves previously impinged, you’ll notice instant pain relief. 

Through this simple act of splaying your toe knuckles, met pads provide a natural, non-intrusive way to relieve foot pain and combat the damaging forces of narrow shoes on your sensitive feet structures. 

See Also: How Should Shoes Fit? A Complete Guide

What Others Said About Tread Labs Metatarsal Support Pads

At Tread Labs, we believe our Insoles for Metatarsalgia are among the best, if not the best, in the market. We painstakingly designed them to be so. But then again, that’s what any other manufacturer would say. 

So don’t take it from us. Below are a few examples of what some customers say about our met pads. 

Some of the standout remarks include:

  • How our met pads relieve discomfort at a fraction of the cost of custom orthoses
  • How our met pads allow them to enjoy the activities like hiking once again
  • How through our met pads, their feet have never felt better

" ... I’ve tried them in both my gym shoes and hiking boots, and the results are terrific. My feet have never felt better …. "
- Gee Baz, Vancouver, Canada

"Between the arch support insole and the metatarsal pads, my feet have never felt better!"
- Rodney DeWalt, Fort Worth, United States

" ... I could tell I found the right spot when they were barely noticeable and a lot of walking discomfort was quickly alleviated. Not sure how I wear shoes without these anymore."
- Hungus Outdoors, Secaucus, United States

" ... While Tread Labs haven’t ‘solved’ my foot pain, the metatarsal pads provide more comfort at a fraction of the price of customs …. "
- Allen, New York, United States

“Since adding these pads to my Tread Labs insoles, the burning sensation that I used to feel after 4–5 miles of hiking/walking have totally gone away.”
- Sven, Essex Junction, United States

Check Out Tread Labs Metatarsal Support Pads

People Also Ask

Can Tread Labs Metatarsals Support Pads be used with other Tread Labs insoles?

Yes. Our Metatarsal Support Pads are compatible with all Tread Labs Insoles. They use velcro to attach to the bottom of the insole. Below is a video showing exactly how quick and easy it is to attach to any Tread Labs insole. 

What is the best spot to install metatarsal pads?

The best spot to place your met pads is right behind the center of the balls of the feet. This is typically the most optimal position to place the pads to experience their analgesic effects. 

You might have to readjust the positioning a few times to find the perfect placement for the best results. This is normal and made easier with our velcro adhesive technique, which will not lose grip as you try to find the best placement. 

Below is a chart to help you find the perfect spot for your met pads easier. 

met pad placement chart

About Tread Labs: Your Go-to Orthotic Partner

Since its inception, Tread Labs has helped relieve foot discomfort and enhance the quality of life for thousands of people through innovative shoe inserts, including our Metatarsal Support Pads

This success has only been possible through leveraging our founder’s experience and expert knowledge in design and biomechanics to create the most comfortable orthopedic supports on the planet.

Visit our online store today to find the perfect support for feet in our collection of medical-grade orthoses. You can also check out our blog for more information on improving your foot health. 

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