Top 8 Techniques to Avoid Black Toenails

Black Toenail, also known as Runner’s Toe, can affect the runner. Following these simple techniques may help to avoid the ailment.

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Black Toenail, also known as Runner’s Toe is an often-painful condition experienced by runners and walkers who have injured their toenail bed. The repetitive motion of having their foot slide forward in their shoes can cause their toes to bang against the top, front and/or sides of the shoe’s toe box either bruising the nail bed or causing a blood blister underneath the bed of the nail. 

Almost everyone who runs or walks (especially those training for a marathon) experiences a black toenail at some point or another.  With the thousands of steps a person takes during a single 5K run/walk, the action of the foot coming forward sends an additional rush of blood towards the tip of the toes due to the extra force. People with Morton’s foot types, where their second toe is longer than their first, are more susceptible to bruised second toenails.

Adhering to the following precautions will minimize your chances of encountering Runner’s Toe:

  1. Make sure your shoes fit properly.  Your feet swell a full shoe size during long runs or walks.  When standing in the prospective shoe, ensure that there is one half inch from the end of your longest toe (not necessarily your big toe) to the end of your shoe.
  2. Ensure that the toe box of your shoe is wide enough so your toes do not get compressed or banged.
  3. Lace your shoes properly to keep your heal in the heal box rather than allowing the foot to slide forward with each step taken.
  4. Do not wear thick or cotton socks.  They take up valuable room in your shoe, constrict toes and hold sweat increasing heat and swelling in the foot.
  5. During warmer weather, run during cooler times of the day to avoid excessive pressure and fluids in the foot.
  6. Downhill running/walking increases the likelihood that you will contract Black toenail.  During downhill runs/walks the foot slides forward in your shoe.
  7. Slowly increase your running distances.  This allows for the feet and toes to adjust to additional, prolonged pressure.
  8. Avoid running faster than you are accustomed to during any long runs or walks.  Increase your pace while on shorter runs/walks.

Some individuals take heart in the knowledge that getting their first black toenail signals that they have taken their running or walking to the next level.  Whatever the cause, Runner’s Toe is not a permanent condition.  At worst, you may lose a toenail.  Oft times, however, simply taking a few days off will relieve discomfort by permitting the bruised or blistered nail bed time to heal.  Being aware of its causes and following the rudimentary procedures mentioned above can minimize your chances of being afflicted by Black Toenail. 

Image via Wikipedia

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