Friday, July 3, 2015

Metatarsal pads- for big-toe joint pain

It occurs to me that it might be useful to share what I have done / what I have learned about using metatarsal pads to address my left big-toe joint injury.

As described in my post last week, this pain is on the bottom of my left foot, at the bottom side of the big toe joint.

I ordered some commercial metatarsal pads from Pro-tec:
These are constructed from felt, foam, and rubber and come with sticky tape so that they can be applied to the bottom of a shoe insole.  The way these are supposed to be installed is to place the pad BEHIND the area of pain (i.e., place proximal to the metatarsal heads, i.e., closer to the ankle), not directly under the painful metatarsal head.  The idea being to support the metatarsals and alleviate pressure on the metatarsal head.  I think these are not really designed for the big toe, rather, for metatarsal pain in the second, third .. metatarsals.

Nevertheless I tried them.  The shape of these pads is not great for big toe pain as they do not fit quite right on the edge of the insole.  I tried one on my left insole in my Hokas last week but found it uncomfortable, too big and not correctly positioned.  Mid way through a run I stopped, took out the insole, removed the pad, and applied a wedge shaped piece of neoprene foam that I cut from a Dr. Scholl's work shoe insole.  (I had bought these to try because Dr. Scholl's  athletic shoe inserts all have rather obtrusive plastic arch supports.  The insoles were however too mushy to use for trail running).  Here is what these look like after harvesting material for construction of metatarsal pads-  top side is grey fabric coated, bottom side is black, what appears to be neoprene:
And below is what my big-toe joint pad looks like -- The blue sticky tape from the Protec insert would not come off the insole so I left it in place and applied the black neoprene wedge right on the tape.  This is about right to take the load off the big toe joint:
In my Inov-8s I just cut a wedge of neoprene and used duct-tape to attach it to the insole just behind the ball of my foot:
The wedge I chose for the Inov-8s is larger:   This pair of shoes is from last year and has appreciable midsole compression, so in effect I am using the neoprene in part to fill in the dimple where the ball of my foot compressed the midsole.  I am using these shoes to walk around only, not for running.

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