Getting into running is hard. Fortunately, it gets easier. Each time you lace up your sneakers and head out, you’ll probably notice some small improvement. Stick with it for a few months, and you’ll be able to breeze through those miles, at least compared with your beginnings.

Sticking with it can be almost as hard as getting started, though. That’s especially true if you get a worrisome-looking runner’s toe. If your nail has turned black or you want to prevent this problem, you’re in the right place.

As specialists in nail disorders like runner’s toe (also called a subungual hematoma), Samantha Childers, DPM, and Ricky Childers, DPM, have some tips to help you prevent black toenails when you start running. Or, if you’ve already got one, combine these tips with a visit to one of our North Central Texas Foot & Ankle offices in Roanoke and Decatur, Texas, to get the care your feet need.

#1: Know what’s going on

Preventing runner’s toe starts with understanding it. You get this condition when your toe undergoes trauma. Specifically, as you run, it’s possible that your toenail bangs or rubs into the top or end of your shoe. This stress causes bleeding under your nail, creating the blackness you see.

So, the first line of defense against runner’s toe starts with monitoring your toe as you run. If it’s rubbing, stop and relace your shoes to better secure your foot in your shoe.

#2: Cut your toenails

Since stress on the toenail is often the cause of black toenails in runners, you can sometimes address this problem right at the nail itself.

Keep your toenails as short as possible. This prevents them from extending past your toe and rubbing on your shoe, contributing to the trauma that causes runner’s toe.

#3: Get bigger shoes

If you still feel like your runs put pressure on your toe, you likely need bigger shoes. We recommend choosing running shoes that give you a half-inch of space between the tip of your big toe and the end of your shoe.

Also, check that the toe box is wide enough. You should be able to wiggle your toes easily. If you can’t, the shoe will probably cause problems as you run.

#4: Wear thinner socks

In your goal to create more space for your toes, consider your socks. Thinner ones can help. Some companies now make running socks that are thicker on the bottom to prevent blisters but thinner on top to prevent runner’s toe.

#5: Check your toes

As you build your running habit, make a secondary habit of checking your feet after your run. If you notice blackness under your nail, get more serious about making toenail, shoe, and sock modifications. If you catch runner’s toe early, it usually doesn’t need treatment. You just need to wait for the black part of the nail to grow out.

If you let it worsen as you run, though, it can get uncomfortable, and you might need to have the blood under your nail drained.

To avoid this issue, don’t hesitate to talk to our team about ways to protect your feet as you get into running. To set up an appointment, call or message one of our offices today.

Jul 10th, 2023

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