OMG, I have found hiking nirvana
Or at least a palliative for Morton’s Neuroma. Seriously, MN is one of the creaky old things I deal with when I hike. Mine is an inflammation of the nerve between the 2d and 3rd metatarsal on my right foot. Most people get this between the 3rd and 4th, but what can I say, I’m special.
A flare up feels like I’m hiking with a pebble in my shoe and if I don’t stop and manipulate the metatarsals, I end up with a burning, shooting pain in the ball of my foot and a long limp back to the trailhead. Ouch! I knew I needed to “fix” this, but was determined to avoid anything that would keep me off the trail this summer. Been there, done that.
NO SURGERY! NO INJECTIONS!
I’ve been nursing this along for a few months now. It wasn’t too bad until the past couple of hikes, when it became very painful after about 3 miles. This was even though I had already gone to zero drop, wide toe-box shoes (Altra Lone Peak) and injinji toe socks, which are designed to allow your toes to move freely in the shoe and thus help prevent MN. However, years and years of truly sexy pointy-toed shoes had taken a toll, scrunching my 2d and 3rd metatarsals and pissing off that nerve. Yes, very sad. 🙁 And no, I am not getting rid of the Manolo’s however, I will wear them judiciously from now on.
So, I put on my Google MD hat and started searching. There is a lot of information out there but by far the most helpful for me were two sites: Dr. Christin Runkel’s video on how to place a metatarsal pad and a review of Correct Toes by the guys at Naturalfootgear.com. The short version is that you need to spread the toes apart and put a kind of block (metatarsal pad) behind ball of the foot, so the fat pad that protects the nerve stays right there…protecting the nerve. OK, works for me I am all for spreading toes and immobile fat pads (as long as they are not on my butt that is).
There are very few things that you can just do and et voila! the pain is gone. If I wear a shoe with a wide toebox (the complete opposite of the amazing Manolo’s up there), some toe sox to keep the toes apart, add a metatarsal pad taped to my foot, then my pain is just…gone…completely. I am also using Yoga Toes toe spreaders for an hour a day and plan to get some correct toes. But I cannot overstate what relief I have had from the proper use of a simple $2.50 felt metatarsal pad.