View Full Version : Fore-foot pain

11-06-2002, 16:29
Hi Guys,
We've been looking for a answer to this for over a year now. My wife got terrible fore-foot pain that forced us off-trail after getting to Front Royal. It got better after a month, however she still gets it after longer backpacking trips with major downhills.
What I am asking is if anyone else has had this problem, and more importantly, solved it! We plan of going to a specialist here in Boulder, but I'm looking to gather as much info as we can before we retry our hike (sometime in the next 4 years or so).
The symptoms as best as she can describe them:

Pain in the metarsal area (near the toes)
Painful ball of foot
Mainly associated with downhill


She has a really high arch
She's tried superfeet custom footbeds, regular superfeet and Montrail insoles with no improvement.
Wears Montrail sneakers.

We seem to think that really cushiony shoes would help. Has anyone found any that work well? We were thinking something with airsoles in the front especially.

Thanks for any insites!

Gravity Man

SGT Rock
11-06-2002, 16:56
While I havenn't had that exact pain, I'll give you a theory based on experience.

I have extremly high arches - I havd to get a seperate evaluation and a waver just to get in the Army. I have delt with foot pain and lower leg injuries from repetitve use for years including stress fractures in both legs.

The cause as I have been told is high arches cause people that have them to have a very rigid foot that doesn't absorb shock well. This results in a lot of wear and tear on the feet and lower legs. About 2 years ago I was having similar pain under the the arch near the heel. My unit PA (a very good one BTW) told me the probem was the tendons on the bottom seperating from the bone and causing a bone spur. He said they can either happen at the Heel - which is most common; or happen at the ball of the foot - which is less likely but possible (hint).

He then asked me about the boots I backpacked in (he knew I did that) and asked if I every had feet go numb. the answer was I was using heavy, stiff Asolo boots and after about 10 miles they would always go numb, sometimes lasting for days. I also didn't pay attention to the shoe type for running shoes, and we run quite a bit in the Army.

Well the solution was this: rest without running or foot marching (read backpacking) for about 4 weeks, and to get running shoes with cushion soles. I did both and have been problem free for 2 years, and have started hiking in my running shoes - they are light and they have the correct design (not just foot bed).

I'm not sure that your wife is having is the same, but I would reccomend looking in that direction. Custom footbeds and light shoes are not neccissarily the solution, some trail shoes would tend to be like motion control running shoes and that would be the worst running shoe type.

11-06-2002, 17:05
I'm not so sure if this is the problem, but it is similar to something I had a while back. After a hike, I had some pain underneath my middle toe, right where it connects to my foot. It would hurt only when I was walking, either up, down, or flat. The pain was localized right at the joint which connects the toe to the foot; i.e, at the front of the ball of the foot. I had a bit of a bump there and initially I thought I had just broken the toe. Turns out I had torn the tendon and the bump was just the rolled up tendon. Things are fine now, mostly. The range of movement on the toe is almost non-existent: I can make it wiggle a bit with a lot of effort. This is the only problem.

One note about footbeds: Superfeet are not cushionned at all. Sorbathane insoles are much plushier, but, I think, less supportive. Both, however, give me blisters in 904s, while the stock insoles don't.

Hammock Hanger
11-06-2002, 17:52
Could be Capsulitis. Which is much more common for women then men. HH

11-06-2002, 19:18

You say Superfeet insoles give you blisters. Where are the blisters located?

Do other hikers find Superfeet to cause blisters??

What is the benefit of Superfeet insoles?

11-06-2002, 20:59
I used SuperFeet on the first half of my thru hike with low cut hiking shoes. I got the Superfeet insoles to use with some other flat insoles to solve a fit probem when I limped into Walasi-Yi at Neels Gap in Georgia. I occasionally got blisters on my heels along the edge of the inserts. This happened on long and/or wet hiking days. I also was losing feeling on the bottom of my feet in the forefoot area because of the lack of cushioning. It felt like I was walking on plywood all day. I was worried that maybe I should abort my hike to save my feet. I switched to NB803's for the second half of my thru hike and just used the factory insoles. I NEVER had any foot problems and the cushioning felt great.

The Weasel
11-06-2002, 21:33
(1) Probably a combo of tendinitis (take anti-inflammatants - aspirin, ibuprofen - if you can) and repetitive stress injury (i.e. pounding feet bending forward on downhills) for which ice/rest is the best solution and for which there isn't really a preventative.

(2) See a doctor, not us. We don't take Blue Cross in this forum! :(

The Weasel

11-07-2002, 00:39
i get the same pain on the ball of my foot - EXCEPT - i only have the problems when wearing new balance type running shoes (after many miles). no problems EVER with my trusty superhikers. i suggest, as others have, that you see a doctor and further, don't be swayed by the 'hiking boots vs. running shoes' pundits.

11-07-2002, 09:20
Do other hikers find Superfeet to cause blisters??

What is the benefit of Superfeet insoles?


I tried superfeet in Hot Springs, NC and had a terrible time with them, they were a long time breaking in, were very uncomfortbale, and caused a lot of arch pain. When we were in NY, I went to REI and got a pair of custom-molded superfeet (for about $79.95), gave them two solid zero days to break them in, and was so amazed by the amount of support, the disappearing numbness in my toes and front foot, and arch support that I wrote the company a letter extolling their benefits. I reccommend the custom-molded ones if you want to try them out, I found they could do nothing but help.

11-07-2002, 10:20
The blisters I get from Superfeet tend to happen in the first week of a hike and occur along the underside and inside part of my big toes, just off of the main callus. I have also gotten then directly on the bottom of my feet, just in front of the arch. Superfeet do give more archsupport than factory insoles or sorbathane ultras. I'm told this is important. I got several blisters (early on, then none) and shin splints (last week) during my May hike. So, I am experimenting with other inserts, including factory ones. Sorbathane seems to work fairly well, but the factory inserts are currently leading the pack. The lack of arch support, though, may make them less than ideal for a long trip.

The Weasel
11-07-2002, 16:11
Chief's post reminds me of a diagnosis I got years ago after doing Isle Royale National Park and had severe ball of my foot pains. My doctor said it was very likely deeply bruised, from the pounding of rocky trails, but so deep that bruising was not visible. Another reason for foot soaking in cold water at day's end when possible.

The Weasel

Wander Yonder
11-07-2002, 16:58
Hi. This is my first post here.

Gravityman, I had the identical problem. Was beginning to think that it would prevent me from doing the AT hike next year.

My feet measure between a 6-1/2 and 7D, but my toes still felt cramped in 7-1/2 D New Balance 805's. I went to the Athlete's Foot last week and they put me in 8B 804's with The Athlete's foot Graphite Orthotic insert.

I can't believe the difference! The first couple of days wearing them the bone below the middle toe still hurt a little, but now there is NO pain and you could never tell I had a foot problem.

[edited to add I also have a very high arch and my second toe is longer than the others.]