Best Running Shoes for Metatarsalgia in 2018 – The Ultimate Guide (Review)
The avid runner will often spend extended periods on the treadmill or extended hours on the outdoor trails. They often operate via a set routine and schedule, striving to achieve personal goals and personal bests in both distance and time. With this extensive use of the foot, injury risk goes up. One injury that often goes unnoticed is metatarsalgia. This injury gradually builds over time, producing sharp pains and aches at the ball of the foot. The properties this injury possesses also allows for impact on other areas of the foot.
It is derived from overuse, which is common to running. We consistently rely on our feet as the pillars to guide us through our route. Since the injury arises suddenly, it is important to combat at the source: footwear selection. The proper footwear selection can greatly reduce the occurrence of this injury. We will highlight five different footwear options that suit this injury or help prevent it. We will also detail the effective course of action for greatly reducing the odds of obtaining the injury. This review helps highlight the main areas of impact and introduces measures for preparing for contact, push-off, and other sustainability.
Here are the 5 shoes we will review:
Hoka One One Bondi 4 Shoe
New Balance Women's Vazee Coast Running Shoe
ASICS Men's Gel-Venture 6 Running Shoe
Brooks Women's Glycerin 15 Shoe
Skechers Women's Shape Ups S2 Lite Lace-Up Fashion Sneaker
Background into Metatarsalgia
To arrive at metatarsalgia, one would experience pain and inflammation in another area of the foot (Source). The metatarsal bones run across the forefoot and extend to each of the toes. The pain and inflammation can be derived from tendon injuries, sprains, joint problems, and other such foot injuries. The video below does a good job of explaining common injuries that lead to metatarsalgia. It also presents pinpoint locations as to where the metatarsals are housed within the foot:
As you can see, this video provides a great starting point for applying injury association. This video leaves out areas of the foot such as the heel, individual toes, and ankle. Injury to these areas can have a negative effect on the metatarsal bones, which is important for the user to note.
How Does This Injury Relate to Footwear?
Posing this question is important because it creates leads for the user to work from. Footwear plays the role of a primary defender into the development of this injury (Source). This is also a high target area for users who run often and for long distances. Training for a marathon can be rough on your feet, calling for proper footwear to be at the top of the potential protection measures list.
The second component is defining the areas that require more attention. For example, flush sitting laces are far less important than the implementation of a solid heel support when it comes to metatarsalgia. Below we will highlight the different areas of a shoe that help reduce this injury. We will define these areas and provide insights into the protection measures they could emit for the user.
Starting at the Source: The Forefoot
The forefoot is the area where the metatarsal bones are located. This area requires extra attention and increased amounts of padding to limit the direct impact this area takes. Reinforcement means are also necessary due to the consistent pressures being applied to this area of the foot. The primary function that assists in this area is the midsole. It is often located directly on the outsole and offers additional support means. Common practice for shoe companies is to include proprietary means for shock absorption. This area represents a high traffic location for shocks and pressures from push-offs, leaving this inclusion as a proper necessity for the user.
The midsole also works to provide a base of cushioning. This tendency often differs as far as textures and feel are concerned. Common usages include memory foam technology, gel-like material, or a raised element that is evenly distributed through the midsole. The texture can be applied on a user-to-user preference basis. Some users have higher arches and require additional padding in these areas, making shoes with forefoot rise a fitting target for purchase. The long-distance runner often excels off increased stability and even holding means, prescribing the flat midsole as the recommended usage type. The feel is not as important as the function, which is something to keep in mind when purchasing.
Catering to the Toes
The toes represent a second high-risk area. The risk involved stems from toe injuries that are common to running. Blistering and tearing is common when footwear is too tight or doesn't give you toes the ability to splay naturally. A wide and spacious toe box represents the proper fit for combating metatarsalgia. The toes are linked directly to the metatarsal bones, making an injury to the toes a greater risk to metatarsalgia development. You want to house your toes with room to breathe. This starts with the housing of the toe box. It should be lifted and should not cave-in on the toes. A good measure is finding a shoe that offers about ½ an inch of space in-between the toes and the outer shell of the shoe. This helps apply breathability means and reduces the development of foot fungus and blistering.
The width of the toe box is important to ensuring your toes can splay naturally. This free-flowing movement helps to reduce hammer toe and other toe ailments. When your toes are allowed to splay naturally, they can move freely with your strides. Reducing forced movement can allow the user to apply their own running technique and reduces inadvertent movements. Inadvertent movements lead to greater injuries at other areas of the foot, such as ankle sprains, pronation of the foot, and other injuries.
A Supportive Heel
Aligning the foot and holding it in the proper positioning is also important to metatarsalgia prevention. During the course of a run, one may encounter adverse surfaces or altered landing and push-off. This is common in the off-road space, so combating these movements is the implementation of a proper holding technique. The upper of the shoe plays a key role in this regard. The upper is located in the surrounding of the foot insertion point. It houses properties that often extend to the heel and ankle area. Holding starts at the tongue of the shoe and the insertion point. Proper tongue sitting is flush to the foot. This allows for the user to implement the proper lacing technique to ensure a tight fit. The flush nature of the tongue takes the focus away from the top of the foot.
The second area is the back-heel shaft. This area should be stable, reinforced, and built-up with additional mechanisms. Common inclusions include stability increases through the use of a thick shaft. This will often be visible to the user and will extend from the heel of the shoe. This keeps your movement both stable and upright, reducing the amount of pressure the user emits with each push-off and landing. This also keeps your foot in the proper course of motion. The upright positioning is essential to gaining the proper ground striking technique. This technique relates directly to the duration of the run, with ease of push-off creating more stamina reserves for the long duration runs.
Providing a Proven Base: The Outsole
With our fourth mention comes one of the most essential components of the running shoe: the outsole. The outsole provides the base for the foot to sit on. The foot is in direct contact with the outsole at all times, leaving it as the area featuring the most traffic. A durable outsole helps to benefit the properties it can feature. Rubberized materials are common in the make-up of the outsole. These materials will often be stacked and fused via proprietary technology or held together with stitching techniques. The fusion or stitching helps to create the solid foundation for the foot, regardless of thickness in the outsole.
An even-keeled base is what the user should strive for. The even base allows the user to evenly distribute their weight, defusing the pressure across the entire foot. When uneven surfaces are presented, the mold will help defuse the pressure on a contact basis. This helps to create unlimited running path opportunities. If a base is raised, arched, or curved, it will often add pressures to target areas. Since metatarsalgia deals with all areas of the foot, even pressure distribution can greatly reduce the risk of developing this ailment.
The outsole also acts as the direct beneficiary for the toes, forefoot, and heel. It extends to cover the entire bottom of the foot. The surface area it covers plays a great role in protecting and preserving energy in these areas. Fatigue is heightened when there is a gap in coverage in these foot regions, often leading to a limited amount of production and capping the distance you can travel without feeling pain. Obtain a model that features even, full coverage to help reduce the notion of metatarsalgia.
Other Mentionable Foot Areas
As you can see, almost every region of the shoe can help assist in the reduction of metatarsalgia development. Due to this injury being derived from common foot problems and ailments, it is important to obtain maximum coverage for the foot and exercise additional precautions. Another precaution is obtaining a model that features a lightweight, yet strengthened build. Common materials in the shoe coverage space include mesh, textile, leather, synthetics, and other such comparisons. Any of these materials can prescribe a strong build if they are reinforced, overlapped, or attached correctly.
The greater risk comes when plastics, elastics, and other such materials that allow for wear and tear are used. These items can crack and snap, reducing the effectiveness of the function they once held. If you are going to opt for the lighter materials, like mesh, ensure it is reinforced or is combined with a partnered material. This will help reduce abrasions and reduce the wear and tear that weather can cause. The stronger materials, such as synthetics and textiles, increase the overall weight of the shoe, but it is not enough to keep you grounded or reduce the effectiveness of the push-off or foot striking.
The different profile types also play a role for users who have had previous foot problems. For example, if you have had ankle troubles, it is best to go with a model that operates in mid-rise fashion. This will increase the holding technique at the ankle area and will reduce the ankle issues of the past. This reduction will also play a role in minimalizing the chance of developing metatarsalgia. The low-profile fit works for those who benefit from utilizing their natural striking capabilities. The minimalized fit works to help users develop their strides and understand the effectiveness of their push-off and striking.
Keeping the foot close to the ground also helps to emit natural movements and foot sitting. Natural function is important because utilizing additional sources for support can reduce the function of a certain foot area. This is similar to ignoring a muscle group at the gym, often leading to weakness and becoming more injury prone in that region. If you can secure a model that helps you utilize natural movements, do so.
We will now review the 5 products we mentioned in the introduction. This is a list of suggestions that closely monitor the needs of users who want to reduce the notion of metatarsalgia. This list is not exhaustive and there are additional options that may be available to the user. This list works to develop options for those who have average sized feet. If you have arch problems, flat feet, or other similarities, it is best to review the components of the shoe and prescribe the additional functions you need to combat these existent issues.
Hoka One One Bondi 4 Women
Hoka One is continuing to progress as one of the leader's in running support. The Bondi 4 features one of the thickest outsoles on the market, containing proprietary means that work on an internal basis. One of these properties is the flat-waisted geometry that works at the insert and levels at the outsole. This design helps increase the amount of support your foot receives and allows you to record stable movements with each step or push-off. Stacked on the outsole is a lightweight midsole that is resistant to pressures. This area is essential to reducing the blow to all areas of the foot and spreading the impact to reduce fatigue.
The design may seem obscure for a running shoe, which is often a case for turning people away. Despite the super thick outsole, the foot rests close to the ground, allowing you to infuse that natural flow of movement. The upper features Hoka's ComfortFrame technology which provides the proper hold at the ankle region and thickens the padding at the back of the foot. This keeps the heel and ankle from shifting during your running, reducing the chance of excessive pronation or ankle twists.
New Balance Women's Vazee Coast Running Shoe
New Balance has built a large following and their Vazee Coast model houses the advancements needed to combat metatarsalgia. The inclusions start at the outsole. New Balance has gradually moved to the ticker space, utilizing lightweight materials in this area. This helps create the shock absorption technique desired and still allows for that explosive push-off. The lightweight nature of the outsole keeps the user light on their feet and less fatigued. The outsole also creates a rise as it works from front to back, increasing the support extended from the forefoot to the heel.
Textile, synthetic, and mesh materials combine to make up this model. These three forces work to strengthen the key areas of the shoe, such as the mesh treated upper or the reinforced heel shaft. These materials also combine to produce and infuse the lightweight notion that New Balance is known for. This build and the structure of the outsole combine to produce the necessary support measures while keeping a model that is durable.
ASICS Men's Gel-Venture 6 Running Shoe
ASICS has created an inclusion to their Gel-Venture line that is targeted directly at the metatarsalgia user. This shoe houses the Rearfoot Gel system that works to include gel-infused materials at the insole, creating a support pad that directly reduces that development of this ailment. These gel pads target the forefoot, the main housing location for the metatarsal bones. It provides an ample amount of pressure reduction and support to keep this area free of unwanted attention.
The shoe itself is rather large and spacious. It is made from synthetic materials with multiple instances of reinforcement. This keeps the model on the heavier end of the running spectrum, but not heavy enough to weigh the user down. The small weight increase is worth the benefits system. This shoe also houses increased widths at the toe box and forefoot area, allowing for natural movements to take place over the course of a running action.
Brooks Women's Glycerin 15
Brooks is a brand that was brought to light via their walking footwear and everyday footwear options. Their expansion extends into the running space with the Glycerin 15 model. This model houses a unique outsole that features grooves at both the sides of the outsole and the undercarriage. This is a design that promotes pressure absorption and the reduction of vibrations that reach the internal portions of the foot. This outsole is also thick enough to provide an ample level of support for the user.
This is a neutral model, meaning the shoe will keep the foot close to the ground during movement. This keeps you exercising the natural potential your footholds, relying on individual stabilities and capabilities to keep your movement sound and structured. The back of the upper features a close-to-ankle fit that keeps your foot held in place. This is also important for increasing the support infusion to the entire foot. This model extends into the high-end space, but the proprietary functions help to lessen the blow to the pocketbook.
Skechers Women's Shape Ups S2 Lite Lace-Up Fashion Sneaker
The Skechers Shape Ups have been known to increase the work at certain body muscles, especially the glutes and leg muscles. They have been primarily used for walking, but the S2 Lite models are rather low-profile for their build, creating an outsole thickness that is similar to the options previously mentioned. This model also doesn't round at the rear, giving the user the even support base they desire for landing and push-off.
These models center the support attention at the heel area. They feature a long, stabilizing shaft that keeps the user in the proper upright motion. The undercarriage of the shoe is groove and keeps the foot sitting on the proper flat foot bed. This model makes for a great inclusion due to the extensive repair properties. It provides to the foot, helping to build stamina levels and take on the course of a long run.
Summary: Selecting the Right Fit and Tips
After taking a look at our product inclusions, it is our preference to use the Hoka One One branded products as the top options for metatarsalgia prevention. Hoka One was the first company to really embrace the reinforcement and thick outsole space. Their climb introduced these products to the running space and they have since modified their creations to secure the foot and keep up on the durability of a long-distance running option. The version 4 model also keeps you level and at a rather minimalized stance, allowing for that natural movement emittance. The price does extend to the high-end space, but you are also paying for a model that has been improved upon at least on three different levels. This helps that brand to continue to embrace inclusions and features that others haven't even discovered yet. Stay ahead of the metatarsalgia curve with the Hoka One One Bondi 4 runners.
Whichever your product choice, review the way metatarsalgia develops. The injury occurs at a key point, but its development can extend from any type of foot ailment you receive from running. Start by assessing the foot pain early and finding if your shoes cause blisters. Assessing your first pair can help you improve upon your decision-making for the next pair. Keep in mind that all shoes wear and tear eventually, losing tread and successful distance travel. Be sure to fluctuate and rotate your shoe options, keeping your feet fresh and free from injury.
If you have questions about metatarsalgia or achilles tendonitis, then check out these articles: