Questions & Answers

top of foot pain?

I've been walking in minimalist shoes for two years now, and also done some running with barefoot shoes on roads and gravel roads - only short runs - 2 to 5 miles, but still, I thought that I had developed some foot strength.

So this spring I started trail running, and loved it. Only 2 miles to begin with, but then I had two longer runs - and now my left foot hurts. The top of the foot, towards the outside of the foot (the 4th and 5th metatarsal if I have got the technical language right.) A dull ache, which is better when I've warmed up and walked/run for a bit, but hurts more after rest and in the morning.

I've been running in pretty minimal shoes. ZEM 360s on treadmill, Inov-8 bare-x light 150 on roads, and Inov-8 trail roc 150 on trails.

I've taken it easy for a few weeks now, and it gets better, but is still there.

So - it seems that I underestimated the strain of trail running with such a minimal shoe as the trail roc 150, and also the difference between gravel roads and uneven trails.

I'm asking for tips here: should I just lay off running - at least trail running for a while?

Or can I start running again, but very short distances?

Finally, should I get a slightly more supportive trail-running shoe? Still zero-drop and wide shoebox...

I've been thinking about the vivobarefoot trail freak (but is it stable enough?), The merrell trail glove 2 (maybe the most likely - but should I get more cushioning?), other merrell zero-drop shoes (ascent 3, maybe?) - or the Altra offerings, such as the lone peak 1.5, or the superior 1.5

So - A complex question, but I'm sure there are some people out there that can answer parts of it!



Answers and Replies


I had the same problem, for about 8/9 months. I continued running (although I'm more of a roadrunner) and walked around barefoot as much as possible, eventually my problem went away while my feet grew stronger. Though I would always advise you to see a doctor, it could be a strengthening issue. My calf muscles adjusted pretty quickly, but my feet needed about 1,5 year! (I run primarily in Merrell bare access and sometimes in fivefingers or really barefoot). Running short distances (1 to 5 k) really barefoot helped me get over the problem faster, because of the (almost) perfect form your body will adopt. I hope my answer helps a bit, I'm not a native english speaking person, so there could be a few errors in my spelling or form! Keep running! kind regards, David


Thanks David, really useful info! I think your story is instructive for my case as well.

Happy with the Merrell Bare Access? I'm wondering how much/little cushioning I might need to let the foot recover and still gain strength.

Other people with opinions about choice of shoes - I'd be very happy to hear from you!

Lars, Actually your question is not all that complex. I agree with David that it is a strengthening issue and possibly a restriction issue. When a body part experiences pain after exercising you know that there is a problem that needs to be fixed. The foot is no different. Cushioning ,supporting or bracing (orthotic) any dysfunction is not going to make it stronger or more functional in fact it will make it weaker. Pure barefoot running on the sand or grass is the best for strengthening your feet. That is why only 3% of people in unshod countries seek medical help for foot,knee and back problems vs.85% here. When wearing your zero drop and day shoes pop in a 3/4 length set of barefoot science ,work your way up to level six , get a massage therapist or PT to check for and release any restriction in the foots joints or fascia and you should be good to go. Even the thinnest of minimalistic shoes acts as an insulator. Just run a pencil along your bare foot and then repeat the test with with a piece of paper over it to see just how much of the proprioception is shut off by the shoe. When it comes to shoes once you have strong, fully functional aligned feet you can wear any shoe you want or no shoe. A famous German doctor once told me that the best shoe is no shoe. I run in the Merrill trail glove or more barefoot lately but I think that once you have strong aligned feet the shoes that your mind will tell you that the best shoes will be the flattest most flexible shoes that do not restrict the natural movement of the foot. Simple. Lance .

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