Metatarsal pads help spread your transverse arch (the arch behind the ball of your foot that runs across the width of your foot), reduce your toe overextension, and encourage the return of your forefoot fat pad to its rightful position supporting the heads of your metatarsal bones. The key to placing metatarsal pads is to make sure they’re pressing into the space behind the ball of your foot, not under the ball of your foot. Placing the pad under the ball of your foot will be uncomfortable and could possibly worsen your condition. The following steps will help you place your metatarsal pads:
1. Use Your Shoe Liner as a Gauge
The easiest way to place your metatarsal pads is to use your shoe’s liner as a gauge. First, pull the liner out of your shoes. If the liner will not come out, or if there is no liner, then the act of placing your pads is more challenging. If this is the case, and if you don’t feel confident that you can place the pads correctly, we recommend that you have your pads placed by a podiatrist.
2. Find the Ball of Your Foot
You’ll need to figure out where the ball of your foot sits on your liner when you’re wearing your shoe. This is easy to see in a pair of shoes that you’ve been wearing for a while, as there will be worn areas where the ball of your foot has pressed into your liner. If your shoe is new, place your foot on the liner and note the position of the ball of your foot. The picture above shows this area labeled.
3. Place Your Metatarsal Pad
Place your pad just behind the area where the ball of your foot contacts your liner (again, note the picture above). The pad should be horizontally centered so that it’s not too far toward the inside or outside of your foot.
4. Try on Your Shoe
Put your liners back in your shoes. Make sure that both pad and liner are “seated” properly. After putting on your shoes, you should feel the pad pressing into the sole of your foot just behind the ball of your foot. This sensation typically feels “good.” Sometimes, however, the pad may feel “weird.” If you feel as though your pad needs to be moved, please do so. Most pads can be pulled up and moved several times before losing their adhesive quality.
5. Adjust Your Pad as Needed
If your foot is sore when your pad is in place, we recommend keeping your pad in for a few hours to see if your foot’s going to adapt to it. If your foot doesn’t adapt, pull the pad up and place it in a better position (i.e., in a position that does not make your foot sore) or see your doctor for help with placing your metatarsal pads. A sore foot from a metatarsal pad often means that the pad has been placed too far forward. See this video tutorial by Dr. Ray McClanahan for further instructions on placing your metatarsal pads.