The first of 3 categories of forefoot pads are direct load forefoot pads. Direct loading means that the primary intent of the pad is that it is used directly under the area to be treated. This differs from an off-loading pad that would be used adjacent to the area to be treated.
Direct load pads are great for plantar fat pad atrophy, blisters, and generalized forefoot pain. The advantages of a direct load pad include the fact that the pad will add cushion or protection to a sore spot on the ball of the foot. The disadvantage of a direct load pad is that it can add bulk to the forefoot making shoe fitting a bit more challenging. Direct load pads can either be worn directly on the skin or can be placed in the shoe.
Examples of direct load forefoot pads that are worn directly on the foot include -
Examples of direct load forefoot pads that are worn in the shoe include -
In many instances when a specific forefoot diagnosis is being treated, an off-loading forefoot pad may be a better choice than a direct load pad. Please see my other blog posts on forefoot off-loading pads - general-purpose, and off-loading forefoot pads - specific-purpose for more information.
Jeffrey A. Oster, DPM