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

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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.

Shower Shoes for Ball of Foot Pain

Many people with ball of foot pain benefit from wearing arch support 100% of the time they are bearing

weight.  The more force you take off of the painful metatarsals the faster they heal.

This includes wearing waterproof arch support sandals in the shower. Our recommendation for standing in the shower are Oofos Sandals. Oofos sandals have good arch support, great cushioning and are 100% waterproof and fast drying.

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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2 thoughts on “Flip Flops and Sandals for Ball of Foot Pain | Podiatrist Recommended

  1. I find the posts at this website very helpful and would attend the center in person if I lived in the vicinity.

    Pain in this metatarsal area of my foot derails activity in many areas of my life if I don’t wear the right footwear. It can feel like a welding torch is being held to my feet and I can’t control the stream of tears from my eyes, even if I am out in public. The only type of sandal I’ve found that can keep this severe inflammation from happening is one with a rigid sole and a forefoot rocker. My gait needs to roll right through that area of my foot without even the slightest pressure happening there. About 5 years ago I found the brand I can rely on to provide these kind of sandals in their lineup. It’s called Alegria. I also wear their classic clogs in the spring and fall. On the other hand, I find that a shoe with a full rocker bottom is just too unbalancing to walk in and fatigues me after a couple of blocks. I find the trick is to have ONLY the forefoot rocker and no flex in the sole. I don’t know if this kind of shoe would be necessary or even helpful for a person who doesn’t have flat feet like mine, but if you do, it might be the solution you’ve been praying for.

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