The #1 Mistake with Metatarsal Pad Placement

Metatarsal pads were created to make your feet feel better! Specifically, a metatarsal pad, or met pad for short, is used to help support your transverse arch (this is the arch that runs widthwise across your forefoot located right below the ball of your foot). This will help place your forefoot in a natural resting position while supporting the heads of your metatarsal bones.

Metatarsal pads are often recommended by podiatrists for those suffering from Metatarsalgia, Morton’s Neuroma, Sesamoiditis, and Arthritis of the foot. It’s also a great product for those who are wearing high heels a lot more than they should and feel pain and burning in the ball of their foot. Metatarsal pads are typically made using rubber, felt, or foam.

Placing a Metatarsal Pad Correctly Can Be Tricky

When you place the met pad on your insole, it’s best to take the insole out of the shoe before starting. This can help you insure proper placement.
Most people think that the metatarsal pad placement is supposed to be on the actual ball of the foot because that’s where the pain is, however, this is actually a common misconception.

met pad

When applying the met pad, start with pressing on the ball of the foot (the padded area just below your toes on the bottom of your foot), what do you feel? You should be able to feel a wider, flatter area on each of your toe bones; this is called the metatarsal head.
Now with your finger still on the bottom of your foot on the metatarsal heads, use your other hand to bend your toes. As you do this, you’ll feel the area where two bones meet, these are the joints.

The metatarsal pad placement should go right underneath the joints that you feel. That means that the met pad is practically in the middle of the foot. When you have the met pad placement in this location, certain things will happen.

  • 1. The whole arch in the metatarsal area will be lifted with the pad. This is the goal, so if you achieve it, you’re doing well.
  • 2. As the metatarsal arch of your foot is now lifted, the toes will drop downward. When this happens, you have effectively removed the pressure from them.
  • 3. As you walk forward, the pad will pull your toes downward. This removes the pressure from this area when you are walking.

Mastering this Simple Physics Trick

metatarsal pad placement

metatarsal pad placement

It’s really a simple little physics trick, but this metatarsal pad placement can drive some people crazy. For example, you’ll see that there’s a right met pad and a left met pad in some brand name packages. People tend to worry that they may reverse them and make a big mistake. You can’t go wrong if you think about the metatarsal pads as if they were miniature insoles. Here’s how to do it:

  • 1. First line up your insoles as if you are going to be stepping into your shoes. The left insole is on your left and the right insole is on your right.
  • 2. Your foot is long, so first align the pads so that they are positioned to be the longest they can be.
  • 3. Then you have toes that are wider than your heels, so put the widest part of the metatarsal pad up near where your toes would be. Easy so far, right?
  • 4. Next, let’s make sure you have the right side on the right and the left on the left. The flatter side matches the flatness of your foot from your little toe down to your heel. The curvy side matches the curvy side of your foot from the big toe down to your heel. Now you have the right metatarsal pad on the right side and the left on the left.

Now proceed with steps 1-3 from above in the section, ‘Metatarsal Pad Placement Can Be Tricky’.
Many people are just outright scared of messing up the process because it’s new to them and they feel as though the self-adhesive tape is permanent. Don’t fret, it’s not. If you’re still apprehensive, please read on.

Here’s how to overcome the fear that once it’s wrong, you can never correct it:

  • 1. Determine the metatarsal pad placement from all the previous information you learned.
  • 2. Peel back only a little corner of the tape on the met pad and place it in its position.
  • 3. Put on your shoe and walk around with it for a few hours. If needed, re-read over the directions and make sure that you have placed the pad in the correct area of your foot. If it feels weird after a few hours, it’s still not correct.
  • 4. Remove it and place it in a new, hopefully, better position. Walk around for a few hours and correct it again if you must.

Once your pads are in the sweet spot, you’ll know it! Goodbye forefoot pain!

Tyler McCracken - President of TheInsoleStore.com, leading retailer of shoe inserts, insoles, orthotic arch supports, orthotic sandals, and footwear.

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