Shoes for Ball of Foot Pain (Metatarsalgia): 6 Stylish Options with Underfoot Cushioning

Here we take on a reader question about shoes for ball of foot pain:

Hi Kirsten:

Four doctors have acknowledged that I have lost the fat pad from the balls of my feet.  The bones in my forefoot have nothing but skin between them and the floor. To compound matters, I have other foot problems that have misaligned these bones. The result is that I need lots of padding in the forefoot of my shoes.  Right now, the only brand I know of that I can walk all day in is Fitflops.  I have many pair and enjoy wearing them, but the company has apparently discovered that they sell more shoes if they have a sleeker thinner sole.  They are, therefore, no longer offering anything other than boots, clogs, and thong sandals with the original sole I can walk in. The flats I have in that brand will eventually wear out and cannot be replaced. I can wear some athletic shoes in other brands, but not to a wedding.

Thankfully, my other foot problems are somewhat under control and I have no heel pain. Those other problems preclude wearing heels. I really need a platform to walk on, but platform shoes with no heel resemble combat boots, so, understandably, no one tries to sell them.My question is whether or not you are aware of another brand that makes a sole as thick and cushy as Fitflop?  I rarely see this feature mentioned in your reviews, though what would be great for many other people does not please my feet.  I need to be separated from whatever I am walking on so that, as one sales person put it, I “cannot feel the ground”.

Dear reader,

In the past I’ve addressed footwear for metatarsalgia (ball-of-foot pain as a result of Morton’s neuroma, inflammatory arthritis, synovitis and other conditions), but it’s been a while. I understand that fat pad atrophy of the forefoot is often caused by one of the aforementioned conditions along with the aging process and subsequent break down of the fat pad (read more here).  I agree with you, I need to address this foot problem more frequently. It’s a difficult task to find footwear that offers as much forefoot cushioning as FitFlop (at least their original styles), but I have a few ideas of shoes for ball of foot pain that will hopefully put a cushiony barrier between your feet and the ground. I’ve attempted to offer dress to casual styles. So what are the best shoes for ball of foot pain? Let’s dive in.

Shoes for Ball of Foot Pain: Jambu Sunkist

Jambu Sunkist. Photo: Jambu instagram

1. For a casual kick-around shoe, consider Jambu Sunkist (and similar styles). A wide, round toe box comforts the forefoot while a memory foam footbed cushions the tender ball-of-foot area. A happy Zappos customer loves her new Jambu Sunkist t-straps:

As I have no metatarsal arch under the ball of my foot, these relieve the uncomfortable pressure when I walk around for longer lengths of time.

Find the Jambu Sunkist in sizes 6-11, medium and wide widths for $99 from Zappos, Jambu.com (where you can find a store locator), Shoes.com and Amazon.

ball of foot pain shoes: oofos

Oofos. Photo: Oofos instagram

Oofos are made from Oofoam. What? Yes, that’s right, it’s a thing. Oofoam is a proprietary closed-cell foam that offers 37% more impact absorption than traditional EVA foam–the perfect shoes for ball of foot pain. In laymen’s terms (my own because I have a pair), they feel like bouncy houses for my feet. They’re lightweight, airy, marshmallowy soft and restore the spring to my step. I think it would be difficult for achy metatarsals to even mildly complain when wearing Oofos recovery footwear. And what’s even better–they offer decent arch support and a rocker sole-type movement through the stride. Find Oofos footwear in unisex sizes up to 13 (and a few women’s specific styles) for under $60 from Zappos. Amazon, and Shoes.com.

ball of foot pain shoes : fitflop f-sporty II

Fitflop F-Sporty II Zip. Photo: Fitflop

Fitflop is so much more than actual flip flops now. Look at these cuties! We love this contemporary zip-up sneaker that carries APMA (American Podiatric Medical Association) Seal of Acceptance, the F-Sporty II. The cushioning is amazing, the support is moderate. If your painful forefoot craves dense cushioning, give Fitflop sandals and shoes a try. Find the whole collection of F-Sporty Fitflop sneakers in sizes 5-11 for around $120 from Fitflop.com, Zappos, and Amazon.

ball of foot pain shoes : beautifeel mystique

Beautifeel Mystique. Photo: Kunitz Shoes

Beautifeel is an Israeli brand that came to my aid years ago when I was teaching and needed a dress shoe for curriculum night. The generous memory foam cushioning saved my aching toes and heels from the hard ceramic tile floors. The pump featured above is the Beautifeel Mystique. A soft Italian suede upper and shock-absorbing latex rubber outsole add to the overall comfort of the Mystique kitten heel. Made in Israel. Find a wide collection of Beautifeel footwear at Sole Provisions and The Walking Company. Find a deal at Amazon.

Birkenstock Arizona Soft Footbed. Photo: Birkenstock.com

Sometimes an extra-cushy shoe isn’t the best choice if you suffer from plantar fasciitis along with metatarsalgia. We recommend Birkenstock’s soft footbed line of supportive yet cushioned sandals, mules and shoes. The cork-latex footbed provides firm arch, heel and metatarsal support as a layer of latex foam offers more cushioning than the regular Birkenstock footbed. Find a variety of Birkenstock soft footbed shoes in euro sizes 36-46 for $120-150 (make sure the style mentions “soft footbed”) from Zappos, Nordstrom, Birkenstock.com, and Shoes.com. A tip on sizing: a narrow width Birkenstock fits a slightly narrow to medium width foot best. A regular width Birkenstock fits a wider foot.

ball of foot pain shoes - dansko teri

Dansko Teri with Metatarsal Support

Did you know that Dansko makes an exclusive clog with metatarsal support for The Walking Company? Not only do you get enhanced arch support, the Teri (and Tina) clog features added support for the ball of foot area. A cushioned footbed and rocker sole add to the overall comfort of the Dansko Teri. Find it in euro sizes 36-42 for $149.95 at The Walking Company.

I’m always open to suggestions from you, dear readers. Do you have a favorite shoe that has offered relief from metatarsalgia? What are the best shoes for ball of foot pain? Please leave a comment and let us know!


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