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Why do my feet hurt? Metatarsal tales

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I am focusing these days on keeping up or increasing my regular walking - whether for health in general or for another Camino. On another thread, I was struck by the following comment, which I think many of us can identify with.
My feet will just quit while the rest of me is good to go.
I've had some foot issues over the years and want to encourage others to try to get to the root (or foot) of the matter. Some problems can be helped.

Is the pain something you need to "walk through" or is it something that will get worse with over-use? Over the past 10 years, I've had problems with both feet, that persisted for weeks or months and took the pleasure out of walking more than 5 or 10 km. "Walking through" them was not helping.
  1. Pain in ball of foot at base of big toe - Resolved after I got my first custom orthotics.
  2. Metatarsal pain - Turned out to be a stress fracture which was confirmed by a bone scan. (It's otherwise often hard to diagnose.) Resting with virtually no walking and soft house shoes cured it in 7 weeks.
  3. Pain at the top of my foot on the inside of my arch - Resolved with new orthotics with different arch support.
  4. Pain on top of base of middle 2 toes - Resolved by changing to shoes with a soft flexible top (Brooks Ghost 13).
  5. Pain on top at base of 2 different toes - An x-ray revealed no evidence of injury/fracture, but some arthritis. This is my current challenge, and seems to be much improved with new orthotics with metatarsal pads, which I didn't have before. The fellow added the pads for both feet, though, and created a new pain in the left foot while relieving the pain in the right foot in a week of testing. Now I have the metatarsal pad in only one foot.
I find it amazing that 1 or 2 mm of extra support here or there can make such a difference. With the new orthotics, I walked 70 km last week in comfort. It seems that I have very mobile metatarsals and the joints scrunch together (my non-medical description) if not carefully supported for long walks.

All of these problems are things that many people suffer in silence all the time. They stop trying to walk so far or so much, or they accept the pain as an inevitable consequence of aging. Sometimes there IS no solution, but I have been lucky to be able to manage these issues.

I suspect that orthotics are over-sold, but for me they have proved essential. The problem is that you will never know unless you try them and you have a helpful professional, and custom orthotics are very expensive. Mine are covered by my extended health insurance - I doubt that I would have spent the money in the first place, but now I know they are worth it to me.

One other point - I always used to go barefoot or socks-only inside. Now I love my Hoka Recovery Slides and wear them constantly around the house. They provide cushioning and a sort of arch support.

Here's another good thread on foot problems beyond metatarsal issues.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
June 2018
I am focusing these days on keeping up or increasing my regular walking - whether for health in general or for another Camino. On another thread, I was struck by the following comment, which I think many of us can identify with.

I've had some foot issues over the years and want to encourage others to try to get to the root (or foot) of the matter. Some problems can be helped.

Is the pain something you need to "walk through" or is it something that will get worse with over-use? Over the past 10 years, I've had problems with both feet, that persisted for weeks or months and took the pleasure out of walking more than 5 or 10 km. "Walking through" them was not helping.
  1. Pain in ball of foot at base of big toe - Resolved after I got my first custom orthotics.
  2. Metatarsal pain - Turned out to be a stress fracture which was confirmed by a bone scan. (It's otherwise often hard to diagnose.) Resting with virtually no walking and soft house shoes cured it in 7 weeks.
  3. Pain at the top of my foot on the inside of my arch - Resolved with new orthotics with different arch support.
  4. Pain on top of base of middle 2 toes - Resolved by changing to shoes with a soft flexible top (Brooks Ghost 13).
  5. Pain on top at base of 2 different toes - An x-ray revealed no evidence of injury/fracture, but some arthritis. This is my current challenge, and seems to be much improved with new orthotics with metatarsal pads, which I didn't have before. The fellow added the pads for both feet, though, and created a new pain in the left foot while relieving the pain in the right foot in a week of testing. Now I have the metatarsal pad in only one foot.
I find it amazing that 1 or 2 mm of extra support here or there can make such a difference. With the new orthotics, I walked 70 km last week in comfort. It seems that I have very mobile metatarsals and the joints scrunch together (my non-medical description) if not carefully supported for long walks.

All of these problems are things that many people suffer in silence all the time. They stop trying to walk so far or so much, or they accept the pain as an inevitable consequence of aging. Sometimes there IS no solution, but I have been lucky to be able to manage these issues.

I suspect that orthotics are over-sold, but for me they have proved essential. The problem is that you will never know unless you try them and you have a helpful professional, and custom orthotics are very expensive. Mine are covered by my extended health insurance - I doubt that I would have spent the money in the first place, but now I know they are worth it to me.

One other point - I always used to go barefoot or socks-only inside. Now I love my Hoka Recovery Slides and wear them constantly around the house. They provide cushioning and a sort of arch support.

Here's another good thread on foot problems beyond metatarsal issues.
I have very mobile metatarsals and the joints scrunch together (my non-medical description) This is Morton's Neuroma. The nerves are scrunched and become inflamed. You do realize that the padding will break down over the 300+ kms you walk. Buy 'Chiropodist's Felt' and cut it to size and replace as it is squashed down from time to time. I suspect stress fractures are a lot more common than known. They glow in an ultrasound. Keep walking!
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
Over a quarter of the bones in the human body are in your feet: 52/206, along with 60 joints and over 200 muscles, tendons and ligaments.

A physio friend of mine describes feet as a complex bag of problems held in shape by the contents competing to fail.

I’ve had episodes of debilitating plantar fasciitis over the years, the last of which terminated my CdMadrid in 2019. That was only relieved, at Tincatinkers advice, by liberal applications of orujo taken internally.

Significant weight-loss last year may now have resolved it.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
One other point - I always used to go barefoot or socks-only inside. Now I love my Hoka Recovery Slides and wear them constantly around the house. They provide cushioning and a sort of arch support.
@C clearly, I'm wondering if the Hoka's would be good evening/shower shoes on the camino. Are they lightweight?
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
A fraction under 300g. I looked at them but stuck with my Birkenstock EVAs.
Disappointing for me. I've posted elsewhere that Birkenstocks hurt my flatish feet as they have such stiff high arches that do not work for me...ouch!
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
This is Morton's Neuroma. The nerves are scrunched and become inflamed.
No. I expect these conditions could exist together, and confuse the diagnosis, but I don't have Morton's Neuroma. The nerves are not affected - no "pebble in my shoe" or tingling toes. My pain is from the bones being scrunched together at the joints - more on top than the bottom.
I suspect stress fractures are a lot more common than known.
Yes. I even rested my feet for 8 weeks (no recreational walking) in case it was. But the discomfort came back.

I'm wondering if the Hoka's would be good evening/shower shoes on the camino. Are they lightweight?
@henrythedog is correct. My pair of women's size 7s weighs 272 g and I think they are less bulky than Crocs. But yes, I would take them on the Camino if I didn't have another similar no-name pair that I've had for 10 years, that are perfect and weigh only 175g. I've been looking for ages for a replacement and only found the Hokas that have been acceptable to my fussy feet (aka "they who must be obeyed"). Now I can save the old ones for the Camino.

I would love to find something less bulky, but comfort is the only thing that counts. The Hokas don't dig into the top of my foot, and they stay effortlessly in place when I walk.

a complex bag of problems held in shape by the contents competing to fail.
Walking for an hour or two barefoot on squishy sand flats in the summer just about put me on crutches the next day. My husband thought it was very therapeutic for his feet. :rolleyes:
 

Kevin Malinak

-kevin-
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances, St Jean PdP, March 18 (2018)
You sparked a memory...
I had a strange pain in both feet for the last 3/4 of the Camino...
It was in the back area of both heels.
It didn't bother me during the day, just at night, got so bad that I had to put something under the lower legs to lift my feet (heels) from pressing on the bed.
Worst was trying to sleep on my back, but also bothered me on my side.
Anyone know what the fix/prevention would be?
Blessings, -kevin-
 

David61

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2019
Frances (2020)
Over a quarter of the bones in the human body are in your feet: 52/206, along with 60 joints and over 200 muscles, tendons and ligaments.

A physio friend of mine describes feet as a complex bag of problems held in shape by the contents competing to fail.

I’ve had episodes of debilitating plantar fasciitis over the years, the last of which terminated my CdMadrid in 2019. That was only relieved, at Tincatinkers advice, by liberal applications of orujo taken internally.

Significant weight-loss last year may now have resolved it.
Do dogs get PF? If so, front or back paws? All 4?
 
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KimR

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Francés April 2018
Camino Portuguese Coastal & Central (from Porto) May 2019
@C clearly, I'm wondering if the Hoka's would be good evening/shower shoes on the camino. Are they lightweight?
I’ve used recovery slides as my 2nd pair on my Caminos. Walking around town .Very lightweight. Can wear with socks. A treat for my weary feet. My wet feet did slide a bit in the slide So not as ideal for showers or walking in the rain. Only downside is that they are bulky but can be hung on the outside of your pack.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I had a strange pain...
It didn't bother me during the day, just at night,
I often have strange pains that bother me more at night than in the day. Maybe it is part of the whole mysterious healing process. In the middle of the night, I'll think "I'll never be able to walk as planned tomorrow" and then in the morning I am fine!
 

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