Metatarsalgia is a condition that causes pain in your foot, particularly in the areas surrounding the ball of your feet. In most cases, this condition can trigger you to experience an aching pain and a burning and stabbing sensation in the affected foot.
It should be noted that your metatarsal bones are primarily designed to share your weight equally when you are walking or performing your daily activities. A sudden disruption on the delicate balance in between these bones can lead to mild to intense pain in your foot.
Metatarsalgia is actually common among track and field athletes, runners, as well as those who take part in high-impact sports, like soccer and basketball. In most cases, it is linked to the overuse syndrome. Fortunately, there are some highly effective exercises for metatarsalgia (you’ll learn about them in a short while).
First, let’s understand the common causes of metatarsalgia and its symptoms.
Possible Causes and Common Symptoms of Metatarsalgia
There are actually many factors that can trigger the development of metatarsalgia. One of its major causes is a sudden change in the posture of your foot’s long bones (metatarsals). Such bones are crucial as they absorb weight when you are walking.
If any of them falls down due to lack of support or weakness or is fractured or abnormally long, then a dysfunction among all your bones will happen. The pain and irritation that this condition triggers can also be caused by gout, stress fracture, calluses, osteoarthritis, and hammertoes.
It might also be caused by systemic conditions, like diabetes that might trigger a nerve-kind pain in your foot. Other possible causes are the enlarged metatarsal head, degenerative disease affecting the joints, aging, certain sports that tend to pound on your foot’s ball tremendously, and ill-fitting or low-quality shoes. Learn more the right shoes for metatarsalgia.
As for the symptoms, the primary one is often characterized by pain and ache in the ball of your foot. The pain is often most pronounced when you walk and when you engage in sports. Since your feet are tasked to support your body when performing certain activities, chronic pain in the area can have a negative effect on your performance.
Another possible symptom is when you feel extremely uncomfortable when you wear socks and shocks. There is also a great possibility that you are suffering from the problem if you experience pain when performing activities that put some impact and pressure on your feet, like running.
Dealing with Metatarsalgia through Exercises
Treating metatarsalgia is actually possible without having to take medications or undergo surgical procedures. All it takes is for you to perform few of the most effective exercises designed to deal with the condition. Some of the best exercises for metatarsalgia are the following:
Ankle and Foot Ups-and-Downs
With the help of this exercise, you can promote movements to your feet, thereby boosting its flexibility even if you are suffering from the pain of the condition. To perform this workout, you just have to lie down on a couch. You should be in a position wherein your ankle and foot hang a few inches from the edge.
Once in that position, you can start moving your ankle and foot in an upward and downward motion. Push and pull as far down and up as possible. Each affected foot should do one set of this exercise. Each set should consist of twenty repetitions.
In case both your feet are dealing with the problem, then each set should be composed of 10 reps only, which you have to do on each foot.
If you are planning to perform a functional exercise, then consider doing the toe walking exercise. What is good about this workout is that it can strengthen not only the balls of your foot but also your toes. To do this exercise, you have to stand straight barefoot. Your feet should be planted flat on the floor.
Rise up onto the balls and toes slowly then walk for twenty seconds each time. Do one set of this exercise composed of 8 reps. Once you notice that you are progressing in doing this exercise for metatarsalgia, you can actually do two sets of this exercise per day.
Make it a point to increase the walking duration once you progress. Your goal should be to walk the whole length of your room.
What this exercise does is that it stretches your metatarsals while also improving its strength. The first thing to do is to put a pencil in front of the specific foot affected by the problem. Prepare a chair and sit on it. Your back should be straight up while your feet should be planted flat on the ground when you are sitting.
Once in that position, you should use your affected foot to pick the pencil up. What you have to do in this case is to squeeze the pencil in between your foot’s ball and toes. Hold it in that position for around 6 seconds. After that, relax and do the same step again. Do one set composed of 10 reps each time. If possible, do this workout thrice daily.
You can also do the towel stretch exercise to deal with metatarsalgia. What you have to do is to sit in a chair first. Your legs should be properly stretched out in front. You need a towel for this exercise, which you should wrap around your left foot’s ball. After that, use your hand to hold one end of the towel.
The next step is to pull the wrapped towel toward your body. Ensure that your leg remains straight when doing this. Stay in that position for around 15-30 seconds. Relax then repeat all the steps three times. Once done with your left foot, you should do the same on your right and repeat thrice.
The first thing that you have to do to perform metatarsal doming is to keep your left foot planted flat on the floor. Make it a point to tighten your toes when you are doing this. You should then pull your toes back to your heel so you can draw up your arch. Ensure that while in this position, your toenails are still visible from you.
Avoid curling your toes beneath. Stay in this position until you have completed a count of 6. After that, let your foot relax for around ten seconds. Do the steps again for ten times. Once done, you can do the same on your right foot.
Other Ways to Treat or Deal with Metatarsalgia
Aside from performing a few exercises, you can also treat the problem through other natural means. Some of the most effective remedies for the condition aside from exercises are the following:
Take a good rest
What you have to do is to limit your activities, especially those that trigger the pain in your foot. Once the pain subsides, you can start increasing your activities again but do it slowly. You also have to take extra care to prevent the pain from coming back. Take some rest whenever you can.
If the pain is also accompanied by swelling, then making use of a compression wrap then wrapping it around your ankle and feet is a major help in dealing with the pain and swelling. Begin at your toes then move up to your leg.
Make sure, however, that you do not put on the compression wrap too tightly. Note that over-squeezing the affected foot might only lead to further irritation, depending on what caused the problem specifically.
Put on ice
Applying ice on the affected foot can also help you heal faster. When applying ice, though, make it a point that it stays in the area for a max of 20 minutes per hour. Also, another thing to keep in mind is to avoid putting it directly against your skin. That holds true, especially if what you are using is a gel pack.
The ideal solution would be a bag containing frozen peas. If you have an impaired sensation or poor blood circulation, then you also have to take extreme caution when you are applying ice to the affected area.
You can also try elevation to deal with metatarsalgia. What you have to do is to position the affected foot over your heart’s level. You can use pillows when positioning yourself that way.
What’s good about this technique is that it can reduce not only the pain but also the swelling. To make this even more effective, consider doing this technique together with the application of ice.
The pain, irritation, and swelling that often come with metatarsalgia are usually very uncomfortable and distracting. The condition can hamper your ability to perform your daily activities and tasks well.
Fortunately, there are natural ways to treat them. With the exercises and other natural solutions mentioned in this article, you will definitely be on your way towards beating metatarsalgia and bringing back the balance on your feet.