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Ball of Foot Pain

What is ball of foot pain, and what causes it?

You may be experiencing pain and inflammation in the ball of your foot. The ball of your foot is the part of your foot located just behind your toes. A variety of causes can result in pain in the balls of your feet. Activities that involve running, jumping, and long periods of standing can contribute to pain. This kind of pain can develop suddenly if you have recently started, or increased the intensity of, high-impact activities (i.e. running).

Wearing shoes that don’t fit well or provide adequate support can also contribute to this kind of pain. High heels, which transfer your weight onto the front of your foot, can lead to ball of foot pain. Shoes that are too tight can also compress your toes and cause pain. Also, athletic or walking shoes that don’t provide adequate support can put you at risk for ball of foot pain.

Rear view from the waist down of a man in shorts & running shoes running on a beach

Certain foot shapes can also make you more likely to experience ball of foot pain. Having a high arch or having a second toe that’s longer than the big toe can put more weight on the ball of your foot, causing pain. Other causes can include carrying excess weight, poorly fitting shoes, stress fractures and foot deformities.

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Pains associated with the ball of your foot can include:

  • Sharp, burning, or aching pains.

  • Pain that worsens when you are on your feet (standing, walking, or running) and gets better with rest.

  • Sharp pain or unusual sensation in your toes.

Two pairs of feet resting on a rock, overlooking a city