Best Sandals and Flip-flops to Relieve Ball of Foot Pain

The ball of the foot is the area directly under the metatarsal heads on the bottom of your foot. You can see the area highlighted in figure 1.

Ball of foot pain is usually caused by too much pressure on the ball of the foot.

To prevent and cure pain under the ball of the foot the first goal of treatment is to transfer pressure off of the ball of the foot.

Numerous studies have shown that the most effective method to transfer pressure off the ball of the foot is to have an arch support that conforms very, very close to the arch of your foot.

Vionic Wave flip flop

Vionic Wave

In shoes you can use custom or prefabricated orthotics to transfer pressure off the ball of the foot.

Sandals and Flip Flops with Arch Support

We have evaluated most of the sandals or the market and have found the Vionic brand to have the best shaped arch support to transfer pressure from the ball of the foot to the arch of the foot.

There is no shoe or sandal that is comfortable for everyone, but a vast majority of our patients find the Vionic sandals to be comfortable and effective at relieving their pain.

Vionic makes many models of sandals and you can see a selection of women’s Vionic sandals here and men’s Vionic sandals here.

The Vionic model that comes in the most choices in size (and is also the most cost effective model) is the Vionic Wave Flip-flop (figure 2).

Other Brands of Sandals with Great Arch Support

We have had the best success with Vionic but there are several other brands of sandals that have excellent arch support and will help to decrease pain under the ball of the foot. No  shoe, however, works for everyone. Below are some other brands of sandals and flip-flops that have an arch that will help transfer pressure off of the ball of the foot.

Sandals with Great Arch Support and Higher Fashion

Aetrex Sandals and Flip-flops: Aetrex has many sandals with great arch support. Not quite as supportive as Vionic but still very good. Also Aetrex sandals tend to be a bit more fashionable than Vionic.

Sandals with Good Arch Support and Less Cost

Spenco Yumi Flip-flops:  These are a budget option for those looking for flip-flops with better arch support. Not quite as supportive as Vionic or Aetrx, but they are still quite good and are often a bargain.

What are the Most Common Causes of Pain in the Ball of the Foot?

Pain in the ball of the foot is usually related to one or more of the following conditions:

  • Metatarsalgia: Pain under the 2nd, 3rd,  4th and/or 4th metatarsal heads. “Metatarsalgia” is a general term that simply means “pain under the ball of the foot”. The most common cause of metatarsalgia is an inflammation of the joints between the metatarsal bones and the phalanges of the toes (the “metatarsophalangeal joints”).
  • Neuroma: Shooting, stabbing, radiating pain, or an odd feeling under the 3rd and 4th toes caused by an enlarged or inflamed nerve.
  • Sesamoiditis: Inflammation below the big toe within the small bones that are located in this area.
  • Callus: Hard, thickened skin that forms when friction or pressure is applied. Usually occurs directly under the metatarsal heads. Most common under the 2nd metatarsal head.

Standard treatment for all of these issues starts with proper arch support in all of your shoes – including sandals. This is by no means the only treatment and you can read about complete treatment plans at the links above. In general, however, if you don’t adequately reduce pressure under the ball of the foot then treatment is bound fail.

Use Your Arch Support Sandals in the House

Sandals with arch support are great to wear around the house to protect tender feet from hard wood and tile. Particularly if you have metatarsalgia or other causes of pain under the ball of the foot, it is critical to have the protection when walking on hard surfaces.  In fact, we recommend NEVER going barefoot until your pain is 100% resolved.

View podiatrist recommended Flip Flops for men and women

Dr. Larry Huppin
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Dr. Larry Huppin

Podiatrist specializing in biomechanics at Foot & Ankle Center of Washington
Lawrence Z.Huppin, DPM is an internationally recognized lecturer and teacher on orthotic therapy and biomechanics.In his Seattle private practice his focus in on treatment of mechanical problems such as heel pain, bunions, ball of foot pain, athletic injuries and children’s foot conditions.In addition he specializes in toenail problems including ingrown and fungal toenail conditions. He is always focused on helping patients avoid surgery if at all possible and keeping your medical costs as low as possible.
Dr. Larry Huppin
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