Ball of Foot Pain: Conventional vs. Natural Approaches

Posted By Marty Hughes, DC

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April 16 2015

Wow, this video came out just at the right moment. I have just recently “acquired” this injury. Mine came about not from wearing incorrect shoes ( I think), but from my running form. I have been running in fivefinger shoes, for the last 3 years, without issue. This year though, I think I got back into it, (after along winter of not running), too soon, too quickly. I should’ve started easy but did not. Seeing your video, I must be placing my foot incorrectly when landing. I am assuming I am running on the ball of my foot and I must be curling my toes up to avoid them hitting the ground. I have been in pain, my right foot, for a good month now. And the pain is exactly where you show, middle toe, under and above. I will try what you recommend. Thank you for this video.

April 16 2015
Natural Footgear

Thank you for your comment, Addie! I’m glad you found the video helpful (and timely!). Best wishes to you for fast and effective resolution of your problem.

Marty Hughes, DC

April 16 2015
Helen Allison

Thank you for all the information on your website. I have been following you for about a year now and have bought 4 pairs of Lems and they are now the only shoes I wear. I wear them with a metatarsal pad and toe correctors and have been doing the excercises you suggest for capsulitis. My problem is that I have a full tear of the second metatarsal plantar plate which I have had for about 1 year. I enjoyed long walks (e.g., in the Pyrenees in France) and can no longer do these as the capsule becomes inflamed. In the summer I am a surf lifesaver (I live in Perth, Western Australia) and am on the sand in bare feet for hours at a time. After a day on the beach the capsule is inflamed; even a walk of 30 minutes causes pain. I am considering prolotherapy and wondered if you think this might help. What else would you suggest?

April 16 2015
Natural Footgear

Hi, Helen,

Thank you for your message. And thank you for your continued support!

In our experience, we’ve seen plantar plate injuries and tears improve following Correct Toes use (due to the plantarflexing nature of the device at the level of the metatarsal heads). Another helpful product for many people with this foot problem is a metatarsal pad ( The Toe Extensor Stretch ( can, for many folks, also be helpful. We’ve seen a lot of folks benefit from prolotherapy for different conditions, though we can’t speak to its potential benefits for your specific concern. My recommendation is to contact a few foot care experts in your area to get a better sense of what to expect from prolotherapy for your particular issue.

Kind regards,
Marty Hughes, DC

December 15 2016
Amanda Lyon

I am preparing to convert all my footwear to Lems for general health and to alleviate ball of foot pain brought on by hiking in poor shoes. However, I also have to wear medical grade compression stockings due to an underlying edema/swelling problem, which at its minimum puffs the skin at the base of my 2nd & 3rd toes on my left foot.

What devices would you recommend to keep my foot spread but also enable the compression where I need it most? Toe spacers and Strutz foot pads? When not on my feet, the compression stocking can reduce circulation too much already. Would keeping the ball of the foot from scrunching also prevent poor circulation?

Thanks in advance. I look forward to getting your dress shoes (I’m a barber) and some Lems Primal 2 shoes for Tai Chi practice.

December 15 2016
Natural Footgear

Hi, Amanda,

Thank you for your comment and questions!

Everyone is different in terms of their foot health needs, and it’s impossible to comment on your specific case without the benefit of a full health history and physical examination.

In our experience, though, we’ve found the following products to be helpful in spreading the foot/toes or in providing compression in the lower leg (but not in the ball of the foot or around the toes):

Correct Toes:

Strutz Foot Pads:

Pedag Metatarsal Pads:

Injinji Compression Socks:

Foot-Healthy Footwear:

If you are thinking about using any of these products to improve your foot health and lower extremity circulation, my best recommendation is to visit a healthcare provider in your area to see if these products are a good match for you and your personal health considerations.

Here are a few resources on our site about circulation and foot health that you might appreciate:

Foot Circulation Tips:

Circulation & Your Feet:

Correct Toes & Circulation:

I hope this information helps! If you have any additional questions, please do let us know.

Kind regards,
Marty Hughes, DC

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