A common foot issue that can be extremely painful is metatarsalgia, or ball of foot pain. This affects a large portion of the population and can be so painful its nearly debilitating, as each step feels like you are walking with a stone underneath your foot. Thankfully, there are ways you can fix this issue that won’t cost you your first born.

While podiatrists can help prescribe custom orthotics to perfectly fit your feet, you can pick up relatively cheap over the counter insoles that have the potential to work just as well. A proper insole to combat ball of foot pain is an investment in your health that you should seriously consider, as most shoes do not provide adequate support with their insoles.

Finding the best insoles for ball of foot pain can be difficult, but our article will provide you tips and information to help guide you in the right direction. Let’s get into it.

Things to Consider Before Buying

Before you invest in a pair of insoles, you should be aware of the unique features they incorporate into their design, as different insoles will target specific areas of the foot and relieve pain for related issues.

Cushioning

The type of cushioning your insole is crafted with makes a huge difference in the comfort level of your orthotic.

The most popular cushioning used is dense memory foam, which molds well to your foot, while providing superior cushioning underneath it. Due to its molding capabilities, your foot stays locked in place, which reduces movement and friction, helping to ward off blisters and calluses before they can form. The lack of movement also helps to keep your foot cool while inside the shoe.

Gel insoles are quite common as well, and sometimes use memory foam with their construction as well. The gel padding supports your foot using a liquid base that moves with each step and distributes weight evenly across your foot. This can help to reduce foot strain, overpronation, and supination from occurring.

Some companies take an all-natural approach to their craftsmanship and use leather as a cushioning. While it is not as soft and malleable as foam or gel, it can still work well to provide comfortable support after the proper amount of break-in time.

Support and Stability

While cushioning makes your foot feel better with its pillowy comfort, support and stabilization is what will cure you of your pain. Improper support is the leading cause of problems associated with your feet, so make sure the insoles you invest in are providing the following:

1. Arch Support

There are three types of arches found in feet – flat, neutral, and high. A majority of foot pain suffers have flat feet, or arches that are beginning to fall as they get older. Your foot needs to have a neutral arch in order to properly distribute the weight load that comes with each step you take.

High arched feet are rigid and don’t give much shock absorption on landing because the arch doesn’t have the ability to flatten out. This puts a lot of pressure on the ball of your foot, which leads to issues like metatarsalgia.

With flat feet, the opposite occurs. They do not have much (if any) arch to them, which puts all the load (too much shock) on their heels, leading to issues like shin splints, bad knees, and plantar fasciitis.

Insoles will always have a contoured arch, but depending on your foot type, this arch may be low, neutral or high. Make sure that the insole you buy is designed with the proper arch support for your foot type. Most companies will put this right on the package so you won’t have to guess.

The contouring of the arch is built into the design of the insole, with companies using foam, leather, or hard plastic to prop up your arch. If you have never used an orthotic before, a supported arch can feel foreign and take some getting used to. But after the initial break-in period, they should be hardly noticeable.

2. Heel Stabilization

Your foot needs to maintain a stable motion when you are walking. If it is compromised in any way, it can lead to overpronation (foot/ankles rolling in), supination (foot/ankles rolling out), and many other foot and alignment issues. Stability starts at the heel, and orthotics will provide a shock-absorbing cup that the back of your foot can rest comfortably in. Each step will be properly aligned, efficiently transferring weight from the back of the foot to the front of the foot. Having the proper size footwear is also important, and you want to make sure that your foot shape maintains its natural shape while inside the shoe. Any crushing or squeezing off the foot (ie. high heels) can lead to trouble.

3. Forefront Support

Ball of heel pain such as metatarsalgia occurs at the front end of your foot, so an insole that has excellent forefront support is imperative for those that suffer from this condition. Manufacturers will pad this area of the insole with dense foam or gel to help relieve discomfort.

Breathability

No one likes stinky shoes. This is an unfortunate side effect of synthetic insoles made out of foam and gel. Most aftermarket orthotics will try to eliminate this situation by coating the top layer in an anti-microbial agent which helps to reduce the formation of bacteria, aka the cause of shoe stench. Leather insoles naturally breathe, and don’t suffer from bacteria build-up like synthetic insoles do, so it is rare for you to ever have foot and shoe odor problems with them.

Keeping your foot cool is tricky to do while it is inside a shoe. Some insoles will have small holes in them to increase airflow, while others will use an anti-friction top fabric to keep your foot from moving around and heating up while you walk.

Best Insoles for Ball of Foot Pain Reviews

Hydrofeet Shoe Inserts Review


These shoe inserts from Hydrofeet use a mixture of memory foam with a vegetable-based, medical grade glycerin gel to provide constant massage action with each step you take. Those that stand for long periods of time will appreciate how the insoles allow you to shift your weight without having to reposition your legs and feet, providing relief for foot pain issues such as metatarsalgia, plantar fasciitis, poor circulation, corns, calluses, and Morton’s neuroma (just to name a few). Their construction also provides a reduction in friction, which works to keep your foot from overheating and sliding around inside the shoe. This gives you a very stable insole that will keep your foot aligned properly while standing or stepping, and will also help to avoid the formation of blisters on your toes. The insoles are lined with an anti-microbial coating to keep bacteria from building up, lessening the unpleasant odor that can come with long hours of having your foot in a shoe. Adjusting to the unique structure of your foot, the memory foam is thin enough to not overstuff your shoe, while providing excellent cushioning and shock absorption that will have your ankles, knees, and hips thanking you. With contouring and arch-lifting action that will benefit flat footers, not only do they come with a 3 year warranty, but Hydrofeet will send you a second pair (you only pay shipping cost) when you register the first pair.

Pros

  • Hybrid Memory Foam / Gel-Based Insole
  • Reduces Friction To Regulate Foot Temperature
  • Adjusts To Your Foot Shape for Added Stability
  • Excellent Shock Absorption
  • Available in Multiple Sizes
  • Anti-Bacteria Coating On Insole
  • Massage Action And Even Weight Distribution With Each Step
  • 3 Year Warranty
  • Free 2nd Pair of Insoles When You Register 1st Pair

Cons

  • Expensive
  • May Need To Trim
  • May Be Too Narrow For Those With Wide Feet

Dr. Foot’s Arch Support Insoles Review


These one-size-fits-all arch support insoles from Dr. Foot come in a men’s model, a women’s model, two colors (beige or black), and are one of the best priced footwear inserts on the market for those that need some pain relief but are on a budget. Their single size means you will most likely need to trim them down to fit your footwear, but they are easy to cut through. Using a firm and high quality medical-grade foam, they provide triple support in the areas that you would expect a good orthotic to hit – the heel, arch, and ball of foot. It is an excellent balance of cushioning and spring which reduces instances of metatarsalgia, plantar’s fasciitis, heel pain, and other aches associated with standing on your feet all day. The top layer of this orthotic has an anti-sweat and anti-slip coating which increases your foot stability while reducing friction. Your foot will also become immune to heat creation, the overuse of foot and leg muscles, and the dreaded stinky shoe syndrome. As they have a lightweight and thin construction, you may be able to leave the original insole in your footwear for double padding, depending on the shoes you are using these in. Dr. Foot provides a 1 year warranty on these insoles, with a 30 day money back guarantee should you be unsatisfied with them, and coupled with their price point, there’s really no reason to not give these inserts a chance.

Pros

  • Budget Friendly
  • Available In 2 Colors
  • Available In Men’s and Women’s Models
  • Uses Firm Medical Grade Foam
  • Triple Action Cushioning Support in Heel, Arch, and Ball of Foot
  • Anti-Sweat Layer To Combat Growth of Bacteria
  • Anti-Slip Foam For Added Foot Stability
  • Friction Reduction To Regulate Foot Temperature and Keep Blisters From Forming
  • 1 Year Warranty with 30 Day Money Back Guarantee If Unsatisfied

Cons

  • Can Be Too Firm For Some Feet
  • Lack of Sizes
  • Trim To Fit

Easyfeet Plantar Fasciitis Arch Support Insoles Review


Well-made and reasonably-priced, these arch support insoles from Easyfeet aim to help those with plantar fasciitis, shin splits, overpronation, heel spurs, and achilles tendonitis. Designed for those with flat feet, they have a premium quality construction, can be used for all types of footwear, as well as a myriad of physical activities, suiting office workers to athletes. With a heavy emphasis on minimizing arch pain, they use a 3 layer approach to provide comfort and cushioning to your feet. The top layer is an anti-microbial material that reduces the formation of bacteria from baking in your shoe, with a secondary layer comprising of a hard thermoplastic polyurethane arch support, as well as a cushiony polyurethane memory foam base. Further to that, the undersole provides excellent shock absorption in the heel and forefoot using a mixture of gel and air capsules to reduce pain in the plantar fascia and metatarsal areas. The heel is constructed with a deep cradle to firmly support the back of your foot, providing increased balance and stability. Easyfeet provides a disclaimer to break in the insoles for 2-3 hours a day, with your feet possibly needing a full week to adjust to them, and if you are not happy with your purchase you can always get a refund (or replacement) with their 1 year warranty policy.

Pros

  • Moderately Price
  • Premium Build Quality
  • For Use With A Wide Range of Footwear
  • Hard Thermoplastic Polyurethane Arch For Superior Support
  • Polyurethane Memory Foam Base for Cushion and Comfort
  • Bacteria-Resistant Top Layer
  • Deep Heel Cup For Ankle Stability and Alignment
  • Increased Gel + Air Capsule Shock Absorption in Heel and Forefoot Areas
  • 1 Year Warranty

Cons

  • Trim To Fit
  • Hard TPU Arch Can Be Uncomfortable For Some

New Balance Insoles 3030 Review


Sufferers of forefoot pain like metatarsalgia or Morton’s neuroma will be happy to know these insoles from New Balance are geared directly toward those types of lingering foot issues. Able to fit most shoes – from athletic sneakers, to casual footwear, as well as hiking shoes and boots, they fit straight out of the box for most people, and are available in multiple sizes for both men and women. The top layer is comprised of plastazote, which is a top material choice normally used in medical-grade orthotics, as they form around the foot very well, and are created with pure nitrogen. This production method eliminates harmful chemical residue from being infused into the orthotic, providing a safe and allergy-free insole that has exceptional safety, especially for diabetics. With the tight mold, it also helps to eliminate rubbing, which is a major cause of blisters and calluses. New Balance uses Abzorb cushioning in the heel and forefoot areas for premium shock-absorption that will save wear and tear on joints like your ankles and knees. Also included is anatomical arch support and a back foot cradle that work in unison to provide greater foot stability while redistributing pressure properly, so each step you take is perfectly aligned and comfortable.

Pros

  • Available In Multiple Sizes
  • Available in Both Male and Female Models
  • Geared To Sufferers of Forefoot Pain
  • Medical-Grade Plastazote Top Layer Safe For Diabetics
  • Reduces Blisters and Calluses
  • Abzorb Shock Cushioning For Comfort
  • Anatomical Arch Support
  • Heel Cradle Provides Increased Stability

Cons

  • Expensive
  • High-Volume Can Consume Too Much Space In Shoe

WAKI HOME Orthotics Insoles Review


Great for those with flat feet, or high arches that are beginning to fall due to age, these orthotics are available in either blue or red, as well as a wide range of sizes for men and women. They use a 3 point support system to provide relief and comfort to those with foot pain, and special attention is paid in the design of the forefoot, arch, and heel sections. The arch support is designed with cork, which provides excellent rebound time, in addition to relieving fascia strain and increasing circulation to reduce tired feet and legs. The rest of the insole is comprised of dual layer EVA foam to provide a firm but soft cushioning for your foot to rest on. A U-cup heel design adds ankle and leg stability, in addition to reducing friction between your foot and the shoe. Over top of the insole is an anti-microbial fabric that works to eliminate bacteria from forming, as well as providing an anti-slip surface that keeps your foot from moving around and forming blisters and calluses. Well-priced and well-reviewed, these orthotics from Waki Home might be exactly what you have been looking for.

Pros

  • Excellent Price For Those On A Budget
  • Contains Anti-Bacterial Top Layer To Reduce Odor
  • Caters To Flat Feet And Those With Falling Arches
  • Available In 2 Colors
  • Mens and Womens Sizes
  • Cork Arch Support For Quick Rebounding
  • Use Firm Dual Layer EVA Foam
  • Anti-Slip To Reduce Formation of Blisters and Calluses

Cons

  • Arch Support Can Be Too High For Some
  • Takes Time To Break Them In Properly

pedag HOLIDAY Orthotic Inserts Review


With the American Pediatric Medical Association’s seal of acceptance, these orthotics are handmade in Germany and promote the use of all-natural, responsibly-sourced materials for one of the most environmentally conscious and woke insoles on the market today. Their unique construction ensures they are both skin and nature friendly, as they only using water-based adhesives, zero solvents, and vegetable tanned leather to reduce harsh chemicals from coming in contact with your skin. Using a full leather sole, they naturally eliminate bacteria from building up, so your shoes won’t start to stink like synthetic insoles inevitably do. Lightweight and slim, they are designed to fit most footwear, and are a great option for those looking for an orthotic to use with open-toe shoes. The metatarsal pad works to eliminate splayfoot, which is a condition where the metatarsal bones spread out and become load dependent over time. An anatomically designed arch helps to prevent foot fatigue, and a heel cushion will absorb the shock that comes with each step you take, making it a relatively attractive option in both construction, as well as price.

Pros

  • All-Natural, Evironmentally Conscious Orthotic
  • No Harsh Chemicals Used
  • Handmade in Germany
  • Has APMA’s Seal of Acceptance
  • Available In Men’s and Women’s Sizes
  • Leather Sole Naturally Eliminates Shoe Stench
  • Metatarsal Pad Help Avoid Splayfoot
  • Heel Cushion for Increased Shock Absorption

Cons

  • Not Enough Padding And Support For Some Feet

FAQ

What are the causes of pain on the ball of your foot?

Ball of foot pain, also known as metatarsalgia, is located between the base of your toes and the arch of your foot, on your metatarsal bones.

A common cause is any activity that involves running, as the point of impact will be on the ball of your foot rather than your heel.

Another cause is simply from having a high arch. Like running, more pressure is put on the front of the foot, as high arch feet don’t have the ability to flatten out, which eliminates your heel cushioning your step.

Poor footwear can also be a cause of ball of foot pain. This can be due to improperly sized shoes that squeeze the foot and compromise its natural structure.

Further to that, deformities such as hammertoe, or bunions can also cause this type of pain. Deformities will, over time, gradually misalign the structural integrity of your foot, which can lead to compromised function.

Is ball of foot pain more common in men or women?

More women than men are affected by metatarsal pain. This is mainly due to choice of footwear, with their feet being being squeezed into high heels. This not only changes the physical structure of the foot, but also arches it upward. A high arch puts a lot of pressure on the forefoot to absorb most of the weight in each step.

Having said that, many athletes suffer from ball of foot pain as well. Those that play any sport that involves running – track, football, tennis, baseball, etc. – are at high risk for developing this type of condition, as your foot lands mainly on the metatarsal bones rather than the heel while running.

How can insoles relieve ball of foot pain?

Insoles work to provide the proper cushion, stabilization, and support that isn’t afforded you in most footwear insoles.

Cushioning provides a dense bed of comfort that will help lessen the ache you are experiencing every time you take a step. By stabilizing your heel (and as a result, your entire foot), you will be walking perfectly aligned with no rolling of the foot. This ensures proper weight distribution when you walk, so the pressure will be taken off the ball of your foot. The arch of the foot will also be supported to even out the function of the foot.

Conclusion

You don’t have to live every day with a debilitating foot issue. With the recommendations in this article, you should now be able to find the proper insole that will help relieve pain on the ball of your foot.