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  1. #1

    Default Metatarsalgia Pain - Ball of foot

    We are new to backpacking - but do hike and ride bikes. We are have been gearing up with practice hikes with gradually loading our packs and hiking progressively longer distances. I am wearing new Salomon Trail Runners (that feel incredible!) along with medium weight Smartwool socks.

    Everything had been great - but when I loaded my pack up to 32 lbs. and hiked the same four hilly miles we had hiked previously my ball of my left foot started having a very gruesome burning pain!!! The first day I encountered the pain was while I was wearing a new pair of Salomon Hiking boots with the 32 lb pack. So I blamed the pain on the hiking boots. Went out the next day with my Salomon Trail Runners and the 32 lb. pack and within 1.25 miles the pain was back.

    Came home and googled my pain - it had a name: metatarsalgia. I'm making an appointment with a Podiatrist on Monday.

    I was wondering if anyone else has had this issue and was able to address it so they were able to backpack some distance. We are not going far. Our plans are to do the 41 miles in Maryland over a five day time frame.

    Thanks for any help, ideas or suggestions you may have.

    Footnote : I'm 62 - according to my Wii I could loose 15 lbs to be in the right BMI - one of my questions to the doctor will be about my weight. Also, this is a pain I have encountered when cross-country sking the few times I go out in the winter.

  2. #2
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    Des Moines, IA


    I had foot pain like you're describing duirn gmy thru. Ended up at a poditrist in Palmerton, PA. Turns out the issue was acutally related to not enough arch support (I had been trying extra cushioning under hte ball of the foot). He gave me some old Spenco incoles and I later switched to Sole when the spenco were breaking down. The pain got better very quickly.

    I'll be interested to see if the podiatrist says the same thing for you.

  3. #3


    I have been a high mileage runner for over 25 years, and forefoot pain has been a problem many times. Sometimes it just feels like your sock is balled up under your forefoot with ordinary walking in ordinary shoes. I always assumed it was about forefoot cushioning. My advice is to go get some good advice, on Monday from your podiatrist. Keep us posted.

    litefoot 2000

  4. #4
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    I agree with seeing the podiatrist. No offense intended, but there are too many different causes of forefoot pain in a 62 yo person to rely on other peoples experience as a guideline for your own treatment (I say this as a rheumatologist who's seen plenty of foot pain). A good podiatrist should have no trouble in diagnosing the problem and getting you on your way with a say 90+% chance or so that you'll be able to go on backpacking (depending on exactly what this turns out to be). If he/she tells you to go slow in resuming activity after therapy - follow that advice! Don't try to push through the pain if they tell you not to (again, how aggressively to resume activity depends on what this turns out to be).
    Finally, if the podiatrist (or any other MD for that matter) suggests a surgical procedure, get at least 1 and preferably 2 second opinions. The foot is a very complex structure and I've seen way too many people who were worse off after poorly conceived invasive procedures that really were not needed (I'm not referring to minor injections or aspirations, but to for example joint reconstructions). Conservative therapy is usually appropriate for initial therapy of most causes of forefoot pain. Podiatrists are just like all other Docs - IMO most are quite good, but some are just too aggressive in their approach.

  5. #5
    AT 4000+, LT, FHT, ALT Blissful's Avatar
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    Virginia, 10 miles from the AT near SNP
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    My hubby had the same issue and Powerstep insoles took care of it (he has a neutral arch though). He wears them in all his shoes. When he doesn't the pain is back. Make sure also the shoe is right for your foot type (is high arch, low arch, neuteral, etc) and buy a shoe for your correct foot type along with the insole. This is basically what the podiatrist will do (if it is indeed ball of foot pain) along with showing you how to tape your foot while it heals.
    Last edited by Blissful; 03-19-2011 at 13:28.

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  6. #6
    Registered User moytoy's Avatar
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    Titusville, Florida, United States


    I get a burning pain on the ball of my left foot also. Mine is a surface skin pain not a deep pain. Like something is rubbing the ball of my foot raw. For a long time I just thought I needed to toughen up my left foot and I did. I developed a tough callus on my left foot. I walk, on average, 1500 miles a year so the callus never really goes away. But neither does the feeling of rubbing that ball raw when I do long walk's with weight. I'm not one to go to a doctor unless I have something life threatening. I would never suggest that you should not go see a doctor though. But anyhow I will share my own self diagnoses. I started looking at my feet trying to figure out why only my left foot had this problem. By looking at the bottom of my feet it seemed that my left foot had a higher arch than my right. If I prop my foot up on the opposite knee I put a flat surface along the bottom line of my feet and can gage the difference in the arches. My left foot has what appears to be a 1/4 " higher arch than my right foot. So now I use two different inserts in my shoes or boots. I did find that increasing arch support is tricky though. Increase in small increments or worse pain in the arch can be caused by too much arch support. I offer this as information on my own problem and it may not have anything in common with your problem and in fact I probably could get my own problem fixed quickly by going to a foot specialist. I'm just stubborn.

  7. #7


    Quote Originally Posted by Three Black Labs View Post
    We are new to backpacking - but do hike and ride bikes.
    I was also primarily a bike rider before I was a hiker, meaning the bicycle is my primary form of transportation. When I first started riding a bike I eventually got bad foot pains, from pushing pedals. Feet would hurt (deep to the bones) (the pain started when I did my first 100km ride before I was ready for it), everytime I walked it felt like my bones were about to crack. Took over a year until that pain went away.

    So when I did my thru in 2006, the only worry I had was with blisters, I thought my feet would be tough enough to handle the stress. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!! I experienced foot pain like I never had before, the pains I experience years before from cycling was nothing compared to hiking w/weight. The pain would keep me up at night and when I did get to sleep it often would wake me when I brushed my foot against something.

    No problems anymore, what's the sayin', What doesn't kill....

    Not saying that footware is not a problem, but the simple fact is that we live relatively sedentary lives, so when we get into an activity there's going to be some pain. Getting in shape is not just a matter of cardio fitness, it's getting the entire body strong.

    I know that feeling in the ball of your foot not a good feeling, but in 2006 the worst feeling I had was in the center of my right foot it felt as though an incision was made using a razor. The first time it happened I actually took my boot off, because I thought I actually cut my self, but nothing was there, that was strange. When I hiked in 2007 from Springer to Damascus I had no foot problems, except I did once in a while get that same feeling as though my foot was being sliced by a razor I have no idea what causes that.

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