When you run or walk your feet pronate and shift weight from your heel of your foot to your toes. So strong metatarsal bones that are adequately supported are needed to help correctly pronate the feet. Running can cause a lot of tension in the arch of the foot as your feet pronate which can worsen through over or under pronation of your foot if you suffer from arch problems such as high arches or fallen arches. Over or under pronation can cause a great deal of stress on the metatarsal area of your foot especially when running. Tightness that can result through arch problems can cause your feet to be unable to support correctly the metatarsal bones found behind your toes. Pressure on the metatarsal area has been linked to toe pain, hammer toes and the development of bunions as the misalignment in your foots anatomy causes stress and pressure which results in bunion. That is why it it a good idea to buy insoles with added metatarsal support helping correct alignment issue which can cause problem in the metatarsals of your feet whilst you run to a natural position whilst also helping support and protect your metatarsals. The metatarsal bone must be supported correctly otherwise bio mechanical imbalances can develop and you body may start to try to adapt and readjust your feet in an attempt to try to lessen pain and pressure on the metatarsal as well as combating other imbalances, this can result in irregular gait, poor posture and foot alignment which can worsen pronation and the support in your feet making the problem worse.
Protection through wearing pads really does help and can drastically reduce damage to the the metatarsal bones and toes if you place your feet in a compromising position or a sudden impact hit your toes.