Foot injuries

Metatarsalgia – The Injured Runner

Metatarsalgia literally means “metatarsal pain”. If you have this condition you may feel like the ball of your foot is bruised. This is different from Morton’s Neuroma where the pain is between the metatarsal bones and different from a stress fracture where the pain is usually slightly behind the ball of the foot.

There are a lot of nerves in your foot so if this becomes painful it can really hurt. The pain is from general irritation of the joints and tendons near the ball of your foot. You can usually continue running but cut back on the mileage. If you are limping you have to give it even more rest.

  • A metatarsal pad is a small, slightly triangular, pad that can be placed behind the painful area to provide relief. You can buy one here. The pad supports the transvers arch reducing on the ball of the foot.
  • Arch Supports or orthotics (custom foot supports) can craddle the foot and reduce strain on the metatarsals or ball of the foot..
  • Gently stretching each toe both up and down can really help – flex and extend each toe with your hand holding the stretch for 5 seconds and repeating 5 times.
  • Stretching your calf muscles will decrease the pressure on the front of your foot while walking and running. You need to stretch the inner and outer calf muscles for best results and perform these stretches at least twice per day. See bent knee calf stretches.
  • Strengthening and balance training are often the neglected part of treating metatarsalgia in runners. Strengthening the foot and calf muscles restores your bodies natural ability maintain your arch and reduces the strain on your foot during running. Balance training is the functional application of strength training.
  • Massage the deep muscles in-between your toe bones (metatarsals). The end of a toothbrush can be used to work on those small muscles.
  • Bare foot walking in the grass for 1-3 minutes once per day well help gently stretch and work the deep muscles and tendons of your foot.
  • An anti-inflammatory could be used to reduce the pain and inflammation.