Zero Drop Shoes: Can They Help With Metatarsalgia?

If you have metatarsalgia, you might have heard that the shoes you wear could benefit you.  And, the obvious question we want to answer here is, do zero drop shoes help with metatarsalgiaÉ

The answer to this question is yes and no. While it will not cure the condition and can help reduce some of the pain associated with it. Zero drop shoes keep your foot and ankle at a natural angle as if walking barefoot.  Although they offer little support, your body weight is balanced more evenly over your whole foot, reducing the issues from standing on a heel.

Many people get metatarsalgia when they are standing or walking for long periods of time. This is because their feet do not have enough support, which causes discomfort in the area between the toes and heels.

While you might think that wearing zero drop shoes would cause more problems for those suffering from metatarsalgia, it actually helps them by adjusting their foot position. When you wear traditional shoes, the heel is higher than the toe. 

This causes your hips to roll forward, which puts pressure on your forefoot and can make it difficult for your toes to reach the ground. With zero drop shoes, there's no difference between heel height and toe height—they're both level—so there's no pressure on any part of your foot.

If you're a runner and you have metatarsalgia, then zero drop shoes are probably not going to do much for you. That's because they are designed to be as close to flat as possible—they don't provide any support or cushioning from the ground. If anything, this could make the pain worse if your foot isn't getting any support or cushioning from the shoe itself.

Before we dive into other details, let`s get onto the same page by describing this condition.

What is metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia is a condition that causes pain in the metatarsal region of the foot, which is located on the top of the arch. It can cause a lot of pain in your foot and make it difficult to walk or stand for long periods of time. If you have metatarsalgia, you may also feel a burning sensation on the bottom of your foot or hear a crackling noise when you move your toes.

How does metatarsalgia impact gait?

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Birkenstock Arizona Sandals

Gait is an important part of healthy movement, and it's something that most people take for granted until they're not able to do it anymore. Metatarsal inflammation can make walking difficult because of pain or reduced range of motion in your feet. This increases the risk of injury to these structures and can cause permanent damage over time.

Metatarsalgia can also lead to other issues like falling and muscle strain, which can be dangerous for older adults or anyone who needs to walk regularly for work or daily life. It can also make it more difficult for people with metatarsal pain to walk normally because their gait will be altered due to pain or discomfort in their feet or ankles.

Common risk factors of metatarsalgia

Ill-fitting shoes

Birkenstock Men's, Boston Soft Footbed Clog Habana Brown 42 M

Birkenstock Men's Boston SFB Sandals

The most common cause of this metatarsalgia is footwear that forces toes into a tight space, such as high heels or shoes that are tight around the toes. This can cause the bones to become misaligned, creating pressure on nerves that pass through the area. This can result in pain and swelling at the base of your big toe.

Excessive weight

Excess body weight can put a strain on the foot and increase the risk of metatarsalgia. This is because the foot supports most of a person's weight, so if it is not strong enough to hold that weight, it can cause pain and discomfort.

The condition is more common in people with diabetes or high blood pressure, as well as those who have had a recent injury to their feet.

Age

This is the case with metatarsalgia—as we age, the fat pad that protects our feet can thin out, causing pain that can range from mild to severe. The more pronounced the pain becomes and the longer it persists, the more likely it is that you'll need some kind of treatment for your condition.

High-intensity activities

When you run, your feet hit the ground with every stride, causing a sudden impact that can stress the metatarsal bones in your feet. In addition, if you have a high arch in your foot, this places even more pressure on the metatarsal bones. This causes inflammation in the joint that connects your toes to your instep, resulting in pain when walking or standing up.

Shape of the foot

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Birkenstock Women's Mayari Metallic Stones Copper Birko-Flor Sandal

If you have a high arch or if your second toe is longer than your big toe, this can add to the pressure on the ball of your foot. This extra pressure may cause pain in this area, especially if you're wearing shoes that don't fit properly or are too tight.

Stress fractures

Metatarsalgia can also be caused by stress fractures, which are small breaks in the toe bones that can be painful under pressure. If you're experiencing metatarsalgia, try wearing shoes with good arch support, or shoes that have removable insoles so you can replace them with ones that provide extra cushioning.

Stiff ankle

A stiff ankle is a common risk factor for metatarsalgia. The ankle is made up of several bones, and one of these—the talus—is located directly above the metatarsal bones. When you have a stiff ankle, the talus can press down on the metatarsals when you walk or stand on your toes, which adds pressure to those bones and can make them more susceptible to injury.

Things to consider when buying zero drop shoes for metatarsalgia

Fit

Birkenstock Women's, Gizeh Braid Sandal - Regular Width Black 37 M

Birkenstock Women's Gizeh Braid Sandal

Wide-fit shoes are a great choice for people with metatarsalgia, because they provide extra space at the sides of the foot. If you're in pain from metatarsalgia, you may experience numbness and tingle in your toes—a wide fit allows room for this to happen without putting pressure on your toes.

Cushioning

If you have metatarsalgia, it's important to get the right amount of cushioning so that your feet are supported in all the right places. You don't want them to be too squishy or too firm—or else you're likely to get more pain than relief.

You should also keep in mind that the best kind of cushioning is one that is breathable and flexible enough to move with your foot while still providing great support.

Comfort

When shopping for zero drop shoes, you should be sure to look for a shoe that has an interior that's comfortable. You want to make sure the sole is flexible enough to conform to your foot and won't cause any discomfort. Your feet are going to be feeling a little tender, so you want to make sure the insoles are soft and not hard or stiff.

Shoes without heel

The best way to prevent metatarsalgia is to wear shoes with no heel rise (the difference between the height of the heel and the rest of the shoe). Zero drop shoes are also known as “minimalist” shoes because they have no built-in cushioning or support. They can be flat or have just a slight elevation of fewer than 2 millimeters.

If you are looking for a shoe that will help treat your metatarsalgia symptoms, we recommend trying out zero drop shoes first.

Best exercises to relieve metatarsalgia

Toe pumps

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Birkenstock Unisex Professional Tokyo Super Grip Leather Slip Resistant Work Shoe

The best way to perform toe pumps is to sit down and place your feet flat on the ground. Then, lean forward and extend your toes as far as possible, before curling them into your foot. Repeat this movement ten times at a time.

Toe flexor stretch 

Toe flexor stretch will help you to stretch your toes, which are part of the metatarsal bones. This will help to reduce pain and inflammation, as well as improve blood flow and circulation in the feet.

To do this exercise, sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your legs bent at a 90-degree angle so that your knees are above your hips. Pull one foot back toward you until it touches your buttock or upper thigh while keeping the other foot flat on the floor. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then switch sides.

Sitting calf stretch

The Sitting calf stretch is a good idea to do this exercise several times a day to help reduce your pain and swelling.

To do the sitting calf stretch, sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you as far as they will go. Then place a small pillow or cushion under each ankle so that your feet are at least 2 inches off the ground.

Then, keeping your back straight and your head facing forward, lean forward from your hips until you feel a stretch in your calves and Achilles tendons (the Achilles tendon attaches the calf muscles to the heel bone). Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 4 times.

Standing calf stretch

The muscles in your calves can become tight from standing for long periods of time, which can lead to increased pressure on the plantar fascia and cause you pain. This stretch should be performed every day before or after you walk or stand for an extended period of time.

To perform this stretch, stand up straight with your feet together and your hands on your hips. Slowly lean forward until you feel a comfortable stretch in your calves. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds, then repeat 5-10 times.

Tips on Recovering From Metatarsalgia

BIRKENSTOCK Women's Mayari Sandal, Stone, 39 R EU, 8-8.5 M US

Birkenstock Women's Mayari Sandals

  • Try massaging the balls of your feet with your hands or a massage ball each day until the symptoms improve. This will help to increase blood flow to the area and reduce inflammation, which can relieve pain in your feet.
  • If you’re experiencing metatarsalgia, it’s important to resolve any underlying foot conditions like Morton’s Neuroma or Plantar Fasciitis. These conditions can cause pain and swelling in your foot that can make the symptoms of metatarsalgia worse. If you have these conditions, talk to a podiatrist about how to treat them.
  • If you’re suffering from metatarsalgia, the best thing to do is to avoid pressure in the affected area. If your job requires you to stand for long periods of time, make sure that you take frequent breaks and sit down as often as possible. While sitting down may not seem like it will help your metatarsal pain, it does relieve some of the pressure on your foot. 
  • After exercise or spending time on your feet, try some pain relief remedies, such as alternating between an ice pack and a heating pad. This will help reduce swelling and inflammation in the area where you are experiencing pain or discomfort in order for it to heal faster than usual.

Zero Drop Shoes And Metatarsalgia, Final Verdict...

In conclusion, while it's true that zero drop shoes can help with metatarsalgia, they should only be used under the supervision of a doctor and should never be used as a replacement for medical treatment.

If you're struggling with metatarsalgia, it might be worth giving a zero drop shoe a try. They offer more cushioning and support than traditional shoes, and they are specifically designed to help you avoid the pain that comes from wearing high heels or uncomfortable flats.

While I can't say for certain that these shoes will work for everyone—and it may take some trial and error to figure out which shoe is best for your specific needs. This doesn't mean that all zero drop shoes will be helpful for everyone who has metatarsalgia!

It's still important to choose a pair that fits well and feels comfortable on your feet—but if you do find one that works for you, it could be just what you need to ease the discomfort of this common condition!

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