Educational Articles

Metatarsal Pad Placement

Posted By Marty Hughes, DC


The above content is for educational or informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or augment professional medical instruction, diagnosis, or treatment. Read full disclaimer here.

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July 04, 2016
Carol Dixon

Please, somebody come up with a more helpful way of placing a metatarsal pad correctly!

July 04, 2016
Natural Footgear

Hi, Carol,

Thank you for your message. And thank you for your feedback. Placing a metatarsal pad can seem tricky, but it’s actually a pretty simple process once you understand where the pad needs to go. I recommend checking out this video, entitled How to Place Metatarsal Pads, for step-by-step instructions:

I hope this video helps and please do let us know if you have any further questions!

Kind regards,
Laura Trentman

February 22, 2021
Ian Wallace

Hello, Dr. Marty Hughes and Dr. Ray McClanahan! I love all the very helpful information you have available on both of your websites. It has helped me greatly to make informed decisions, experiment with different shoes, foot products, exercises, and stretches, to eliminate my foot pain from plantar fasciosis and Morton’s neuroma (aka ball of foot pain, or metatarsalgia). While wearing my old, poorly-designed shoes, I have experimented with several different brands of metatarsal pads to prevent the pain from metatarsalgia, and I’ve found that the stick-on types lose their ability to stay stuck, and they move out of place, especially after being warmed up during long walks or hiking. Instead of having to continually buy more pads when the adhesive loses its ability to grip, I found using double backed carpet tape was effective. Even better, the Strutz foot pads are more effective, and they can also be worn with any footwear or around the house barefoot or over socks without shoes.

I also found that Spenco RX Ball-of-Foot Cushions are very effective in staying in place without having sticky adhesives. But within two days of wearing properly-designed shoes (Lems) with a wide toe box, zero drop sole, no arch support, no toe spring, and with Correct Toes orthotics and Injinji toe socks, I found I did not need to use the metatarsal pads except when occasionally wearing a pair of my old poorly-designed shoes that cannot accommodate the Correct Toes. I’m guessing that Correct Toes has the same effect as metatarsal pads in spreading the metatarsals enough to prevent friction/squeezing of the nerves and allowing proper blood flow to the toes? I wonder if it may be that some people will still require the pads if their metatarsalgia is more aggravated or advanced than mine?


1. I’ve found that Correct Toes is way more comfortable, and that the spacers don’t tend to get too warm or damp with sweat, when worn on top of the Injinji Toe socks.

2. There was a definite transition period for my foot and leg muscles and tendons to adapt to the new footwear and products. But with following the transition information, exercises, and massage recommended on your websites, I made the transition smoothly, without excessive discomfort.

3. After 15 years of pain and a couple of thousand dollars spent on physiotherapy, the wrong/ineffective exercises and stretches, night socks, orthotics, etc., I am now free from the pain associated with plantar fasciosis and Morton’s neuroma (metatarsalgia). And I have been for almost a year.

4. The Lems shoes are so comfortable that it’s felt like wearing slippers from the first time I wore them. I have a pair of the Boulder Boots for winter wear and easy to moderate hiking, as well as a pair of Nine2five’s for work. My wife has Correct Toes and a pair of Boulder Boots for winter, and a pair of Primal 2s for cool, breathable summer wear. When I can afford it, I’ll be getting some Primal 2s too :)

5. I also had to learn how to change my walking gait to one that is more natural. It was a long and difficult learning process in attempting to not walk by heel striking, but by using a midfoot strike instead. Finally I was able to understand and see how to walk properly after seeing Dr. Mark Cucuzzella’s videos on the principles of natural running and barefoot running style. I also found it much easier to walk properly/naturally with a midfoot strike while walking barefoot or while wearing thinner-soled shoes like Vibram FiveFingers. The thinner the soles, the easier it is to walk properly and naturally. If I walk on paths with rocks, pebbles, and sticks on them, heel striking will be very painful. But when walking softly (properly), the feet automatically adjust to shift the weight away from rocks or other trail debris.

6. Besides having the proper footwear to provide a stable platform for my body, I needed to learn how to effectively align the rest of my musculoskeletal structure. Actually, I learned this before realizing the importance of learning how to effectively support my feet. It was through Esther Gokhale’s DVD (Back Pain: The Primal Posture Solution) and the book “8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back.” She teaches us how to effectively align our whole structure by properly sitting, standing, walking, bending, lifting, and lying down, etc.—a must-watch/read/practice for all who wish to strive to be pain-free and have more energy.

I can’t thank you enough for getting me to the point where my feet are pain-free! And thank you for helping so many others to minimize or eliminate their pain. Forever grateful.

February 22, 2021
Natural Footgear

Hi, Ian,

Thank you for sharing a bit about your experience and your journey into the world of optimal foot and musculoskeletal health. It sounds like you’ve made some terrific discoveries along the way, and it’s exciting to hear all about your progress!

You had wondered about the role of Correct Toes vs. metatarsal pads in spreading the metatarsal heads in order to prevent nerve and blood flow impingement to the toes? While Correct Toes certainly does help open up space for the interdigital nerves and blood vessels to transit to and from the toes, it’s really metatarsal pads that have the biggest impact here. You might appreciate this article from our site that delves deeper into the many merits of metatarsal pads:

Please do keep us posted on any further milestones you achieve on your path to building the strongest and most resilient possible feet!

Kind regards,
Marty Hughes, DC

February 22, 2021
Susan Walsh

Hello! If I have a Morton’s neuroma in one foot and not the other, do I need to wear the pad on both feet in order to not throw off postural alignment? Thank you.

February 22, 2021
Natural Footgear

Thank you for your question, Susan! We always recommend that folks use metatarsal pads on both sides, for postural alignment considerations, yes, but also for a number of other reasons. Indeed, there are many benefits associated with using the pads (beyond addressing acute foot problems), all of which are outlined and discussed in this article from the blog:

I hope this info helps! Please let us know if you have any additional questions.

All the best,
Marty Hughes, DC

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