Prevent Metatarsal Spread
“Metatarsal Spread” is an aging condition of the feet. Here we thought it was only going to be our hips that spread! It is often characterized by burning in the area behind the ball of the foot.
Sometimes it can also be an achiness or shooting pain. It will often come on after an hour or so of exercising and can be experienced hiking, skiing, cycling, or virtually any activity where there is repeated pressure on the bottom of the foot. Shoes that are too tight or not supportive enough can also attribute to metatarsal pain.
This condition is created by the actual spreading of the tarsal bones of the feet. This causes the areas between the bones to become more exposed to pressures which can create irritated nerves. If the irritation continues then the nerve ending may turn into a neuroma, which is essentially an inflamed nerve ending. Mortons neuroma is common with the pain radiating down to the 3rd and 4th toes.
Don’t try to tough this one out. The solutions can be fairly simple and inexpensive:
- Wear supportive, well-fitted foot gear. Shoes with a rigid midsole and a rocker work great. Over-flexible shoes strain the metatarsal region.
- Have a metatarsal pad inserted in the shoes worn for repetitive movements.
- Don’t try to push through the pain. Stop, remove your shoes, massage the feet, take a break.
- Use poles while hiking, especially on the downhill, to lessen the pressure.
- Ice the affected area. Therapeutic balls that can be filled with ice can be rolled under the metatarsal arch. 20 minutes 3x a day if possible.
- Contrast heat and ice to flush out the fluids. Steroid shots, alcohol shots and surgery to remove the nerve are the medical options. Untreated foot injuries can become chronic and difficult to alleviate. As the feet are the base of support for the body, they can also affect the rest of the physical alignment. Prevention and early intervention are the best options.
MS Exercise Physiology