Ever notice that your second toe is longer than your big toe? If so, you're in good company. Both the Statue of Liberty and Michelangelo's David have second toes longer than their big toes. But since you're not a statue, you're probably wondering what's the deal with the longer toe and, even more importantly, if you should be concerned about it.
THE BASICS ---
When your second toe is longer than your big toe, you've got Morton's Toe. One in five people have it. And while it's no cause for alarm, it can cause biomechanical problems that lead to forefoot pain, plantar fasciitis or stress fractures.
You can avoid issues related to Morton's Toe with a metatarsal pads - a simple treatment that aligns your foot and relieves pressure that can lead to progressive skeletal dysfunction.
Metatarsal pads must be positioned correctly or they'll make foot pain worse. Find ones that can be attached, removed, and re-attached easily so you can make sure you get the right placement.
Tread Labs is the only insole with modular met pads. Our met pads come in three sizes and attach to any Tread Labs insole. We recommend Ramble or Pace insoles for Morton's Toe.
Unlike many foot-related maladies, Morton’s Toe, also called Morton’s Foot Syndrome or Greek Toe, is not caused by ill-fitting footwear, injuries, or overuse. Instead, it is a factor of genetics. Those with this condition are born with it. When the second metatarsal bone inside the foot is longer and lower than the first metatarsal bone, the pressure that occurs with every step you take is not evenly distributed.
This causes the added weight to be shifted to the second metatarsal. Over time, this may lead to overpronation (turning inward) of the foot along with other progressive structure irregularities in your foot, ankle, knee, leg, and back.
The main symptom of Morton’s Toe is easy to identify—your second toe is longer than your big toe. This causes the metatarsal (ball of the foot) beneath your second toe to fall lower than the big toe metatarsal, which creates a deeper space between the first and second toe than between the subsequent toes.
The condition itself is no cause for alarm. Many people with Morton’s Toe, however, experience a series of biomechanical complications as they age, due to the uneven distribution of pressure on the ball of the foot. These complications can include:
Morton’s neuroma (sensation of standing on a pebble or sharp object at the ball of the foot)
In addition to a greater risk for these associated foot problems, those with Morton’s Toe may also be more prone issues in the ankles, legs, hips and back. This can include weakness or pain, shin splints, instability, arthritis, and more.
How Do You Treat Morton’s Toe?
Simple treatment options can help align your foot, relieve the pressure on your feet, knees and legs that may otherwise lead to progressive skeletal dysfunction. The most common treatment for Morton’s Toe is a quite simple fix involving an orthopedic insert that raises the level of the big toe metatarsal to the level of the second metatarsal.
Metatarsal Pads And Insoles For Morton's Toe
Metatarsal pads are an easy way to address Morton's Toe. There are many types of met pads available, and they offer various ways of staying in place:
Sticking to the bottom of your foot - This method isn't ideal as the adhesive can sometime irritate the skin. It's also inconvenient to place a met pad on the bottom of your foot everyday.
Sticking to the top of your insole - Better than sticking a met pad to the bottom of your foot, but still challenging in that the met pad can't be adjusted as needed without wearing out the stickiness of the adhesive. Additionally, the met pad can peel off inadvertently as you put your shoes on or take them off.
Velcroing underneath your insole - The best method in that velcro doesn't lose it's grip like adhesive so you can adjust as often as needed. Also, the met pad is protected from your foot and any dirt and bacteria that might come along with it.
Tread Labs insoles unique two-part system allow you to place a metatarsal pad between the arch support and the top cover with hook-and-loop. This allows for easy adjustment to get the placement right. It also shields the met pad from dirt and bacteria, making it last longer.
A metatarsal pad can relieve pain by adding support to the shaft of your second metatarsal bone. This helps reduce the pressure on the ball of your foot and re-distributing it more evenly across your foot. The key to making it work is putting it in the right spot. This can take some trial and error because if met pads are not positioned correctly, they will make things worse.
When Should You See A Doctor For Morton’s Toe?
If you are experiencing pain due to Morton’s Toe, it's time to see a doctor. Your physician will examine your foot, ankle, and leg as you sit, stand, and walk. If there is evidence of a metatarsal fracture or progressive foot dysfunction, they may wish to perform imaging tests to see what’s going on at the bone, muscle, and tendon level.
If the findings suggest the root of your foot dysfunction is due to Morton’s Toe, your physician will likely suggest the proper type of shoe inserts to help you.
If your Morton’s Toe has contributed to other skeletal problems, your physician may refer you to a specialist who can address the specific issues you are experiencing.
Podiatrist(Doctor of Podiatric Medicine)—physician who treats foot and ankle disorders
Orthopedic (Foot and ankle) surgeon—a surgeon who specializes in the surgical treatment of foot and ankle problems
Certified Pedorthist—specialist who has expertise in fitting and modifying footwear to address foot irregularities and conditions
Certified Orthotist – provides mechanical devices that address foot and leg or gait irregularities
Chiropractor – a spine practitioner and expert of the musculoskeletal system who can make adjustments in the skeletal structure and provide nerve relief or stimulation, as needed
Osteopath – a physician or surgeon who specializes in correcting problems and injuries of the bones, tendons, and muscles
Pain specialist—a physician who specializes in helping patients to remediate and cope with their pain using a variety of therapies, including injections, physical therapy, and oral pain medications
Doctor (PhD) of Kinesiology—an expert in the study of motion and its effects on physical health; may also work as a physical trainer, occupational therapist, or physiologist
It's always best to seek the advice of a medical practitioner when you are experiencing pain or discomfort. They will help you determine the cause of your issues and point you in the right direction toward solving them so you can walk better, feel better, live better.
Mark has always believed exceptional footwear can change lives. He's been in the footwear industry for over 30 years, working with podiatrists, pedorthists, foot care experts, and footwear makers. Mark started Chaco sandals in 1989 and developed a game-changing sport sandal that delivered comfort and durability. After Chaco sold in 2009, Mark ultimately started Tread Labs to continue transforming people's footwear so they can walk better, feel better, live better.