If you’re a frequent runner, you know how much abuse your feet take on a regular basis. One very common foot injury that avid runners experience is a slight bleeding or bruising underneath the toenails, giving them a dark blue or black color.

This injury is a result of what is known as “repetitive trauma,” which is caused by the top of the shoe putting pressure on the nail every time your feet pound the pavement. Black toenails can also come from the constant movement of sliding your foot forward inside of the shoe when you step, causing your toes to “cram” into the very end of the shoe. This repetitive trauma causes fluid to build up underneath your toenail, often creating discoloration and pressure that can become painful or tender.

What to Do About Black Toenails

While black toenails are not life-threatening (or anything close), they can be a pain to deal with, and they’re not the most attractive thing to look at either. So what can you do to alleviate this casualty of hard training? Here are a few tips to keep in mind to help you deal with this common nemesis of running enthusiasts.

  • Prevention is always the best prescription, and one of the best preventative measures you can take is to choose the right footwear. Wearing shoes that fit properly can make a world of difference when you’re running. Choose a running shoe that has plenty of room for your toes; they should not feel cramped or restricted when you wiggle them around. Some experts recommend having at least a thumb’s width of space between the very end of the shoe’s toe box and the end of your longest toe. To do this, you may have to buy a shoe that is a half-size larger than what you would normally wear.
  • File your toenails down on a regular basis. Long toenails are more susceptible to getting jammed into the end of the shoe when you’re running.

While it’s often recommended to make a tiny hole in your toenail to drain some fluid and release the pressure, this could result in an infection. It’s better for you to visit a qualified podiatrist to be on the safe side.

Dr. Titko, an avid runner, helps you maintain optimum foot health; extending your running season and minimizing injuries.

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