Archived: Pain In The Second Toe


Got a question about running? You’re in the right place. Every Tuesday, world-renowned coach, author and athlete Hal Higdon posts and answers athlete questions here. 


Today, after running a half marathon (my longest run so far), I experienced a lot of pain in my index toe from the tip of it rubbing against the end of my shoe. I have run a few hundred miles in these shoes and never had this problem before. My question is: Do I need a larger shoe? There seems to be plenty of room between my toes and the end of my shoe (1/2 inch or so). How can I alleviate this pain for future long runs?


If you have not had this problem before, it probably is because you have not run this far (13.1 miles) before, or maybe not at top speed before. Feet swell, particularly the feet of newcomers, who may not have fully developed the system that pushes fluids from the bottom of the body (feet) to near the top (heart) for recirculation. What you call the “index toe” is the second toe over, the one next to the Big Toe. This condition is called “Morton’s Toe,” describing the fact that the second metatarsal is longer than the first metatarsal. Thus it contacts the end of the shoebox first, causing pain and a blister. Shoe selection becomes vital, but that can be tricky. Your shoes may or may not be too small. They could even be too large. If you go a size up, your feet will slip around also causing blister problems. So whether shoes are too small or too large, runners with Morton’s Toe may be cursed when they get up to the longer distances. You could wait the condition out, and see if the problem happens again, or have a podiatrist examine your feet and shoes. As you continue to run and condition every part of your body, swollen feet should become less and less a problem.

About the Author

Hal Higdon

Hal Higdon is a Contributing Editor for'Runner's World'and author of 34 books, including the best-selling'Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide. He ran eight times in the Olympic Trials and won four world masters championships. Higdon estimates that more than a quarter million runners have finished marathons using his training programs, and he also offers additional interactive programs at all distances through TrainingPeaks.Hal uses'TrainingPeaks'to power his interactive marathon and half marathon training plans.'Check out more of Hal Higdon's training plans here'or on'his website.

View more posts by Hal Higdon