Best Metatarsal Pads

The best metatarsal pads, sometimes referred to as met pads, can assist with pain relief in the forefoot. They’re a simple and favored solution recommended by experts to get you back on your feet. Metatarsal pads are designed to fit under the metatarsal head to relieve pressure and therefore alleviate pain. They cushion the ball of your foot and spread the pressure of walking, standing, or running more evenly. They’re available in different shapes and sizes — we’ve looked at the best and we will get to those later, but for those who like to skip ahead, here’s a quick look at our top picks:
  1. Brison Metatarsal Pads Ball of Foot Cushions
  2. Dr. Jill’s Felt Metatarsal Pads
  3. Pedag Drop Anatomically Correct Metatarsal Pads 
  4. Ballotte Ball of Foot Cushions Shoe Inserts Women
  5. Hyjinx Ball of Foot Cushions 
  6. Dr. Frederick’s Original Metatarsal Pads 
  7. NatraCure Gel Metatarsal Pads

What is the Purpose of a Metatarsal Pad?

There are several ailments that manifest as pain in the balls of your feet. These are generally related to the metatarsal bones which join the back of your foot to your toes.  These five bones start at the arch and end at the ball of each foot just behind the toes. When these bones aren’t supported properly, it can give rise to forefoot pain, including:
  • Metatarsalgia: This is a bit of an all-encompassing term for any pain in these bones. They might be sprained, bruised, or just not getting enough support. It could be the result of running and jumping, loose or tight shoes, or foot deformities.
  • Bursitis: Redness or swelling in this area of the foot are indications of this condition. It happens when small fluid-filled sacs, the bursae, which cushion your tendons, bones, and muscles, become inflamed.
  • Neuroma: When the nerves running through the front of the foot of the toes thicken, they can cause a burning or stabbing pain in the ball of the foot. It can be caused by wearing shoes that are too narrow for your feet or high heels.
  • Bunions: These painful bony lumps can form at the base of your big or small toe. They can be caused by wearing shoes that are too tight and narrow or could be the result of a foot deformity or arthritis.

metatarsalpad

Where Should Metatarsal Pads be Placed?

Fitting a metatarsal pad correctly is imperative to ensure it works as it’s intended. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t place the pad directly where you feel pain, just close enough to it to take away the pressure. Here’s how to find out exactly where to place the pad to relieve pressure and foot pain felt in the metatarsal heads:
  • Outline the area causing you pain on the sole of your foot with a marker pen or lipstick.
  • Remove the insole from your shoe and stand on it.
  • If it can’t be removed, place your foot carefully inside your shoe.
  • The marker or lipstick should leave a mark on the insole of the shoes.
  • Place the front of the met pad just before the outlined area left by the mark.
This video shows you where to place a pad on the foot to protect the metatarsal heads.

Features of Metatarsal Pads for Pain Relief

As we’ve seen from our reviews, metatarsal pads offering pain relief in the ball of the foot come in different shapes and sizes. Here are some features to consider:
  • Gel: Many met pads are made from gel. It’s soft, pliable, and flexible and moves with your feet. It has the advantage of being easily washed to keep it clean and fresh.
  • Toe loops: A specially designed loop that fits over, generally, the second or third toe, helps secure your metatarsal pad in place and prevents it from sliding about inside your shoe. The advantage of this style is that there is no adhesive to contend with.
  • Thickness: Foot pads to combat metatarsalgia tend to be between roughly a quarter-inch and one inch thick. Too much padding can feel uncomfortable, and not enough won’t relieve the pressure or provide pain relief.
  • Comfort: The whole ethos of wearing a met pad is to ease foot pain. Check out what other users say, and the features like silicone gel, felt cushioning, and leather padding, that add to the comfort factor.
  • Ease of use: Some find it more convenient to have a met pad they can stick as a semi-permanent addition to their shoes, while others prefer those that adhere to your feet.
  • Size: Depending on where you feel foot pain, you might need a smaller or larger metatarsal pad. One that covers the whole of the ball of the foot can ease the pressure on all five joints, whereas smaller ones can be placed just where you need them.

In-Depth Reviews of Our Favorite  Metatarsal Pads

There are many different metatarsal pads on the market — choosing the best could be a challenge. We’ve done the hard work for you, and here are our top picks.

1. Brison Metatarsal Pads Ball of Foot Cushions

Our Rating - Edited
4.9/5

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Brison’s metatarsal pads come in a pack containing two pairs. They’re unisex and adapt to fit most people’s feet.

The premium quality, Eco-friendly, medical-grade SBS rubber of which they are constructed is elastic — it stretches to cover the ball of your foot. A loop is located at the front of the pads, which slips over a toe to hold them in place.

You can use soap and warm water to clean these pads, making them suitable for everyday use. The material is also breathable and will help prevent your feet from getting hot and sweaty.

Some of the conditions these met pads aim to help include bunions, plantar fasciitis, blisters, calluses, neuroma, and metatarsal pain.

As there is no adhesion on these pads, some find they can take a bit of getting used to when it comes to fitting them. It seems wearing close-fitting socks is the way to go.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Eco-friendly materials.
  • One size fits all.
  • Washable.
  • Can take time to adjust to wearing.

2. Dr. Jill's Felt Metatarsal Pads

Our Rating - Edited
4.3/5

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This company has been in business since 2001, supplying products to hospitals, podiatrists, and the general public. The founder, Dr. Jill Scheuer, aims to provide quality foot pads for many different complaints.

Their met pad is made from felt with a latex-free adhesive to attach to either your shoe’s insole or your foot. There are two options, one with a straight edge, and one with a beveled or skived edge.

At a quarter-inch thick, these pads don’t take up too much room in your shoes but provide enough cushioning to offer comfort. You can place them behind the metatarsals, or directly over the area on the ball of your foot that’s painful.

They measure 2.25 inches at the widest point by 2.75 inches long, and if you find they are too big, you can trim them to fit.

The pack sizes available are in 10, 20, 40, 60 or 100 counts. This means you can stock up and be sure you always have spares when you need them.

Some find the adhesive quite strong on these pads, which has it’s good and bad points. It means they will stick well and can be reused several times, but the adhesive may need to be cleaned off your feet or shoes with an alcohol wipe — or it might cause irritation if you are susceptible.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Soft felt.
  • Latex-free adhesive.
  • One size can be trimmed to fit.
  • Adhesive could be too strong for some.

3. Pedag Drop Anatomically Correct Metatarsal Pads

Our Rating - Edited
4.5/5

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German brand Pedag is known for its quality products and has been trading since 1955. All are handcrafted in Germany from natural materials in an eco-friendly and sustainable way. They use skin-friendly adhesives, vegetable-tanned leather — reducing the use of chemicals and source their material responsibly.

These metatarsal pads are tear-drop shaped and are available in four sizes, small, medium, large, and extra-large. They come in packs of one or three pairs (two or six).

Their composition is skin-tested latex and vegetable-tanned leather with self-adhesive backing. They can help your metatarsal arch regain or retain its natural shape to alleviate foot pain.

If you want a larger pad, then the Pedag T-Form offers a more substantial surface area. It’s also anatomically shaped to fit the metatarsal area of your foot.

Designed to attach to the insole of your shoes, some find these pads a little tricky to position correctly. 

Pros:

Cons:

  • Made from vegetable-tanned leather.
  • Skin-friendly adhesive.
  • Selection of sizes.
  • Can be challenging to position correctly.

4. Ballotte Ball of Foot Cushions Shoe Inserts Women

Our Rating - Edited
4.5/5

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Ballotte recognizes that heels are often a weakness in a woman’s wardrobe. Those vertiginous Manolos, Louboutins, or Jimmy Choos — you can’t resist — look stylish, but they can really test the balls of your feet. Imagine being able to dance the night away without pain in your forefoot — that’s what this company promises.

Their foot pads are made from a soft polyurethane medical grade gel to cushion the metatarsal region. They measure 2.7 by 4.4 inches, and the depth tapers from 0.20 inches to 0.10 inches thick, so they don’t take up a lot of room in your shoes.

They’re also clear, which means they could be an excellent option for open-toed shoes and sandals.

A strong adhesive holds the pads in place over your shoes’ existing insoles. All you need to do is peel off the protective backing and position them where you want them. They should stay in place on most materials, such as leather or fabric.

Boxes of either four or eight pieces are on offer.

On the downside, it seems these pads don’t move easily from shoe to shoe — so it could be worth investing in the larger pack to make sure all your footwear is covered.

Pros:

Cons:

 

  • Clear polyurethane gel construction.
  • Tapered thickness.
  • Boxes of four or eight.
  • Not reusable.

5. Hyjinx Ball of Foot Cushions

Our Rating - Edited
3.9/5

Metatarsalgia, neuromas, calluses, and bunions, among other conditions, can play havoc with your feet. These ball of foot cushions from Hyjinx aim to give you some relief from associated foot pain.

Made from a transparent gel material, they attach to your shoes beneath the ball of your foot. Their self-stick base keeps them in place, but you can remove them for use in different shoes.

There should be no need to worry about them getting dirty and causing odor as they are washable. To replenish the stickiness, simply use warm soapy water, rinse, and air dry.  Although some find this deteriorates over time.

The company backs their product with a 100 percent money-back guarantee. So, if you aren’t satisfied, return them for a refund.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Gel for cushioning.
  • Reusable.
  • Money-back guarantee.
  • Stickiness wears out after a while.

6. Dr. Frederick's Original Metatarsal Pads

Our Rating - Edited
4.5/5

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The brainchild of Dr Ben Frederick, this company produces items aimed to take care of some of the smaller ailments that are sometimes overlooked. They include arthritis gloves, blister pads, and pads for forefoot pain.

This pack of four gel pads are flexible and stretchy. They ease the pressure placed on the ball of your foot by cushioning them.

Each pad is designed with a stretchy loop to fit over a toe. The pad then sits beneath your metatarsals, stretching to cover even wide feet. The company advises that you wear snug socks to help prevent them from sliding around.

A 30-day refund guarantee accompanies your purchase of Dr. Fredericks’ foot pads. They promise to get you back to doing the things you love, and if not, they will find a product from their range that suits your needs or repay your money.

Some find these pads make their feet sweat more than usual.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Stretchy toe loop.
  • Gel cushioning.
  • Evenly distribute forefoot pressure.
  • Might make your feet sweat.

7. NatraCure Gel Metatarsal Pads

Our Rating - Edited
4.1/5

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Natracare is a company that concentrates on products that enhance our well being. They offer us things like heat wraps, compression socks and gloves, various foot pads, and many others.

Their met pads comprise a slim, flexible fabric sleeve that encloses a gel pad to cushion and absorb impact at the ball of the foot. It has openings over the toes that hold everything in place. Although they are designed for boots and casual, comfortable shoes, you could wear them with dress shoes.

The fit is for average and wide feet, in sizes small/medium (6 to 9 for women and 8 to 11 for men) — and large/extra-large (11.5+ for women and 9.5+ for men).

You can keep these clean and fresh by washing them regularly, then reusing them. However, some find they shrink if you throw them in with the laundry, so hand washing separately is probably a better idea.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Flexible fabric sleeve.
  • Gel cushion under the ball of the foot.
  • Choice of sizes for men and women.
  • Might shrink if washed with your laundry.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Metatarsal Pads Work?

Yes, experts have tried and tested these pads for the ball of the foot in clinical trials. They’ve proven effective for relieving pain in those with metatarsalgia, as well as other foot conditions associated with this area. They’re an inexpensive, easily accessible solution for foot pain.

What is the Best Metatarsal Pad?

The best met pad is the one that offers you pain relief in the ball of your foot. All of those we’ve reviewed have the capacity to help, and the one you ultimately choose will depend on your personal preference.

You might prefer to wear heels and sandals and want something like the Ballotte Gel pad for heels, or maybe something that fits over your foot like the NutraCare.

Size is another consideration. You may find a full-length orthotic more suitable as opposed to a small pad. If this is the case, check out our article on the best insoles for metatarsalgia.

How Thick Should Metatarsal Pads Be?

This is again, a matter of what suits you best. If you’ve never worn pads before, you might want to start with a thinner one at about an eighth of an inch and then progress to thicker ones if they don’t offer pain relief.

Another factor to consider here is how much room you have to spare in your footwear. You don’t want a pad that’s so thick that it causes your shoes to end up too tight. That could aggravate the condition and not alleviate it.

What Does Metatarsalgia Feel Like?

Metatarsalgia is felt as pain in the ball of the foot, sometimes referred to as the metatarsal region.

It can be mild or severe and may feel worse when you walk, run, or even just stand up and put weight on your feet. It’s characterized as an aching or burning sensation, sometimes accompanied by tingling, numbness, or pain in your toes. Some describe it as being like having a pebble or small stone under the ball of the foot.

It’s generally felt in the region where your middle three toes join the metatarsal head.

Taking Away the Pain

Using the best metatarsal pads can offer you pain relief in the ball of the foot. We have featured many different types to help you choose one that will best suit your lifestyle or address the problem you have.

We hope you enjoyed our insights and found our article useful. Please leave us a comment and let us know what you think, and don’t forget to share.

 

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