Do you know that 1/4th of the body bones are in our feet? Each foot has 26 bones – out of which 5-bones that make up the forefoot are known as metatarsals. They connect our toe bones to the ankle and play a vital role in standing and walking.
However, according to studies, around 80% of people experience pain in the foot or ankle at some point in their lifetime, predominant in females. And this painful sensation in the metatarsal region known as Metatarsalgia. Although there are many reasons behind this condition, individuals associated with jumping, running, and other related sports are at a greater risk of developing this medical condition.
If you have Metatarsalgia, you may experience numbness or tingling sensation in the ball area of your foot. However, different exercises can help you to alleviate the condition. Most foot exercises can be done from home and are quite easy. So, here we are going to tell you about the best exercises for Metatarsalgia.
- 1 Top 8 Metatarsalgia Exercises
- 2 How can I prevent Metatarsalgia?
- 3 FAQs
Top 8 Metatarsalgia Exercises
Big Toe Stretch
A range of motion in the big toe must remain intact. The big toe stretch exercise can relax the toes and ease the pain.
For this exercise, you need to sit in a chair. Ensure that you keep your back is straight & your feet are firmly placed flat on the floor. Now, place your right foot over the left thigh, and with the aid of your fingers, stretch the big toe in the upward, downward, and sideways direction. Repeat these motions at least ten times on each foot.
Did you know that walking on sand, especially barefoot, can strengthen your calves? The soft texture of the sand ensures that your feet get the required exercise.
For this exercise, you only need to access a sandy area, like a desert, beach, or a football court. Once you find a suitable place, all you need to do is remove your socks and shoes and start walking.
However, always begin with small distances to avoid overextension of the muscles in the calves and feet. And over time, you can enhance the walking distance.
Golf Ball Roll
Rolling a golf ball under your feet is a great way to strengthen your muscles, which further ease the discomfort present in the arches. For this exercise, you need to sit on the chair in a straight position. However, remember that your feet lie flat on the surface.
Now, take a golf ball, place your foot over the ball, and then move it. Make sure you press the ball while moving it to ensure your muscles get enough stretch. The ball will massage the area underneath your foot and provide relaxation. After two minutes, change the foot and repeat the same process.
It is vital to stretch your calves for proper functioning. To perform calve stretches, head towards a wall and stop when you are a distance of an arm from the wall. After that, place your hands on the wall and then move in the forward direction with one leg.
But make sure that the heel lies flat on the floor& your knees are straight. Now, hold this position for at least 60 seconds and then release. Now, follow the same procedure for another foot.
Ankle extension is another crucial exercise that can help you to ease the pain present in the ankle. For this exercise, sit on a chair in a straight position and place your injured foot over another knee. Now, touch the ankle with your hand on the same side.
For the toes, you must use the other hand. Now, pull your toes in your direction as much as you can. However, make sure that the toe does not start paining. Keep the pull for 5-10 seconds.
Achilles Tendon Stretch
The Achilles tendon connects the muscles of the calves to the heels. It can strain easily and lead to foot pain. Hence, it is vital to strengthen these muscles& nothing can be better than stretching.
In order to the Achilles tendon stretch, you have to face a wall. And then, put your hands up and make sure that the palms lay flat over the surface.
After that, keep one knee straight and put one foot back. Then, slowly bend your opposite knee. You must ensure that both heels are in a flat position on the floor.
Now,try to push your hips in the forward direction until you can feel the Achilles tendon stretching. Stay in the same position for 30seconds and then switch legs. Repeat this at least three times for both legs.
Though this exercise is quite similar to the Ankle tendon stretch, it is not exactly the same. There are minute differences that can cause you more relief. In order to conduct this exercise perfectly, you must sit on a chair. Keep your back is straight, and then put your injured foot over another knee.
However, now the hand motion is different. For this exercise, hold your toes with the same side hand & touch the ankle with the opposite hand. Now, pull the toe in your direction (make sure it’s not painful) and hold it for 5-10 seconds.
Another vital exercise that you can follow to deal with painful Metatarsalgia is toe towel scrunches. In order to perform this exercise, you have to stand barefooted. Now, place one foot on the towel. You must maintain a little bit of bending in the leg that is in contact with the towel.
Now, scrunch the towel with your toes. However, the rest of your foot must be in touch with the ground. Repeated 15 scrunches on each foot.
How can I prevent Metatarsalgia?
You can prevent Metatarsalgia by doing some changes in your lifestyle. If your weight is high, you may develop Metatarsalgia easily. Hence, it is vital to keep a look at your weight. For this, you can incorporate a balanced diet and a moderate exercise regime into your daily life.
Moreover, you must pay special attention to your shoes. Many people overlook the importance of wearing the right pair of shoes. As a result, they end up while having foot deformity. Hence, if your footwear is too tight or does not fit properly, replace your shoes as soon as possible. Otherwise, you can have pain in your foot, especially in the ball area.
Apart from this, avoid high heel shoes or that are fitted with pointed toes. You can try wearing padded socks for more comfort.
Shoe inserts or any other type of cushioning can also aid in relieving the pain in the forefoot. If the pain is too severe, orthotics or personalized inserts are recommended.
Foot health and safety tips
There are various safety tips that you can adopt to maintain foot health, including:
- Apply ice: Use ice packs on the injured area for at least 20 minutes. You can do this several times a day.
- Use arch supports: There are various types of arch supports available, but it is always advisable to use the ones that are recommended by doctors.
- Exercise: You must follow the different exercises of the foot and calves. The various exercises can help in lowering the pain and easing the discomfort.
- Take Pain Killers: If the pain is too much, you can consume some over-the-counter medications. However, it is vital to consult your podiatrist before consuming them.
- Rest adequately: The best thing for your injured foot is rest. Make sure that you place your foot in an elevated position after walking or exercising.
How long does it take for Metatarsalgia to go away?
Generally, Metatarsalgia requires six to eight weeks for improvement. However, too much stress on the injured area and the metatarsals can set back the recovery. Moreover, various other factors, including overweight, running, other hard physical activity, can further extend the rehabilitation period for up to months to 1-year.
Can flip flops cause Metatarsalgia?
Plantar fasciitis is a common type of foot pain that is often associated with wearing flip flops. When you wear flip flops, you may experience excess pressure on the joints that connect the metatarsals to the toes. It can ultimately lead to immense pain and Metatarsalgia.
Do insoles help metatarsalgia?
Yes, insoles offer immense relief to patients suffering from Metatarsalgia. Moreover, if the insole is accompanied by a meta pad, it is even more beneficial. These insoles not only ease the pain but also take your foot comfort to another level.
The bottom line
Metatarsalgia is a painful medical condition that is prevalent among runners, athletes, etc. There are various reasons for this problem. However, there are numerous exercise and safety tips that you can follow to reduce the pain and attain full recovery.
- Exercising is the best way to prevent Metatarsalgia. So, follow your exercise routine and include some foot exercises, including toe towel scrunch, ankle extension, golf ball roll, etc.
- You can ingest some medicines if the pain is too much. However, recommendations from the doctor are advisable.
- Proper rest is essential. Overstressing the inflamed area can set back the recovery period.
Brandon R. Katz is a registered professional nurse who has been instrumental in providing us with an informed opinion on the medical aspects of footwear. He graduated from NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and currently provides his services at a non-federal long-term care hospital in Brooklyn, NY.
Brandon proves to be the champion in the group of expert writers with his in-depth knowledge in foot health, how to take care of it adequately, and what shoes, socks, or insoles will be supreme for you. He has previously worked with hospitals where he has foreseen both inpatient and outpatient departments and has been a practicing nurse since 2009.
Brandon hails from Jersey City, NY, and has a loving family of four with a small popper called Rozo. His decision to become a nurse arises from the desire to be in the position of helping and rehabilitating people.