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5 Ways to Prevent Runner's Toe

5 Ways to Prevent Runner's Toe

For many athletes, runner’s toe, or runner’s toenail, is a badge of honor — the darkened toenail that signals pounding pavement over long distances. 

As podiatry experts, the team at Neuhaus Foot and Ankle takes a different view of sports injuries like runner’s toe. While it may not be all that medically significant, runner’s toe can become problematic. It also doesn’t look great.

Here's a look at how runner’s toe develops and five ways to prevent this minor injury.

When the toenail goes dark

About 60 million people in the United States label themselves as runners. And, if you ask, most runners count distance as the biggest goal. 

With every running step, the tops of your toenails make contact with your shoes. That repetitive friction and pressure can lead to subungual hematoma — slow bleeding under your toenail.

In most cases, it occurs in your big toes because they do most of the work.

Runner’s toe isn’t always painful, but it can become extremely uncomfortable if a blood blister forms under the toenail. Aside from discomfort, other complications of runner’s toe include losing the toenail, leaving you with a sensitive area on your big toe that can complicate running.

While runner’s toe is usually a minor issue, if you enjoy running and don’t want to be sidelined, it’s a problem that’s best avoided.

Prevention tips for runner’s toe

To avoid runner’s toe, we want to provide some tips to improve your foot health.

1. If the shoe fits

Runner’s toe occurs because of friction from the top of your shoe, so it’s essential to ensure your running shoes are snug. We recommend always going to a running store to purchase shoes where a professional can help fit you.

2. Snug socks

While your shoes are most important, socks are a close second. Runners should use thick socks that protect against friction in key areas — your toes and heels. Quality socks have extra padding and are made of materials that wick away moisture, such as wool and cotton.

3. Custom orthotics

Rounding out the great footwear setup are custom orthotics. These shoe inserts support your feet and minimize the friction that causes runner’s toe.

4. Trim your toenails

If you’re a runner, keep your toenails well-trimmed so you don’t have extra toenail making contact with your shoe.

5. Increase mileage gradually

If you’re looking to increase your mileage, do it gradually. Ease your feet into longer distances so they adjust to the extra friction and pressure.

As we mentioned, these tips are not only great for preventing runner’s toe, but they also keep your feet healthy when you run.

For more information about running safely and avoiding problems like runner’s toe, please contact one of our offices in Hermitage, Brentwood, Nashville, Mount Juliet, Waverly, Smyrna, Gallatin, Columbia, Pulaski, Hendersonville, or Lebanon, Tennessee, to schedule an appointment.

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