Running comes with so many benefits. From lowering your risk of a stroke to improving your mood, heading out for a run can do a lot for your body and your mind. The trick, though, is to avoid issues that could slow you down.
To do just that, you probably invested in running shoes and clothes that don’t chafe. Even so, you might notice that your runs take a toll on your body. Specifically, a lot of runners come up against a problem called runner’s toe, which turns their toenails black.
To help you jump this running hurdle, William T. DeCarbo, DPM, FACFAS, and our team at Greater Pittsburgh Foot & Ankle Center have five tips. And if you do still end up with black toenails, we can help there, too. As a specialist in sports medicine, Dr. DeCarbo can treat your runner’s toe here at our office in Wexford, Pennsylvania.
But first, let’s explore some tips that will ideally help you avoid developing this issue in the first place.
As with most things, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure here. To prevent black toenails, though, you need to know why they happen in the first place.
Runner’s toe develops because your toenail rubs against your shoe as you run. Over time, this stresses the nail, causing bleeding underneath it. That pooling blood causes the black color you see.
To minimize the impacts of your run on your toenails, keep them trimmed short. They shouldn’t extend past the tips of your toes.
Get in the habit of clipping your toenails on a regular basis. Giving them a quick file afterward can help to prevent any raw edges from catching on your socks, too.
Thicker socks can cause the tip or top of your running shoe to press on your nail, making you more likely to get runner’s toe.
You can get socks that are thinner in general, but you can also explore specialized running socks that are thicker in the sole and thinner elsewhere. This can help you avoid black toenails while still providing cushioning and blister prevention where you need it most.
You want your running shoes to leave about a half-inch of space between the tip of your longest toe and the end of your shoe. You may need to go up a half-size to get the roominess your toes need.
You can also explore shoes with a higher toe box. Visiting a store with a running shoe selection lets you try on different options to find one that doesn’t rub against your toes.
When you catch runner’s toe early, treating it is usually as simple as making changes to prevent it from getting worse and letting the black part of the nail grow out.
If you let it persist, though, you might need to have Dr. DeCarbo treat your toe. He creates an opening in your nail that allows the pooled blood to drain.
All told, runner’s toe is easier to treat the earlier you address it, so check your feet for this issue periodically.
If you want more tips to support your feet as you run or you’ve noticed black toenails and you want Dr. DeCarbo to check them, we’re here. Call our office or book your appointment online.