If You’re a Hard-Core Runner, Follow These 3 Tips to Protect Your Toenails

If black, bleeding, or missing toenails are a regular part of your life, you’re probably a hard-core runner. When dealing with foot and toenail problems are simply part of an average day, you may have resigned yourself to living with pain and discomfort, and choosing footwear that hides your battle wounds. You don’t have to give up running, if that’s your passion, but there are some steps you can take to help prevent further injury to your toenails.

Here at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center, we understand feet. Drs. Kruse, Paden, and Sachs, our skilled team of foot and ankle surgeons, offer some advice for hard-core runners in and around Wheat Ridge and Grandby, Colorado. 

Take a look at why toenail issues are such a common ailment for so many runners. Then follow these three tips to help protect your toenails and prevent future problems while still keeping up your running schedule. 

Why is running so hard on my toenails?

Every time you run, your toenails take a beating. Even if you wear the best running shoes, your toenails – the big one in particular – slam into the front of your shoe with each forward stride. This repetitive, forceful contact between nail and shoe causes blood to pool under your toenail. The blood can lead to pressure, throbbing, and intense pain. 

On top of this trauma, a blood blister may form under your toenail and force the toenail upward. The nail may even fall off – a common runner injury, especially when you’re training for a marathon or working out at a high intensity every day. If you “push through the pain” and ignore your traumatized toenail, the blood blister can become an infection, causing even more pain and discomfort. 

You may be tempted to pull off a toenail that’s lifting as a result of a blood blister or to hide the discoloration with nail polish. Don’t do either! Instead, follow these three tips to help ease your pain and prevent toenail problems from occurring repeatedly. 

1. Start with socks and shoes

It’s basic, we know, but starting with your running shoes and socks can make a difference. Take inventory of your running shoes. Can you fit your thumb between the tip of your toe and the front of your shoe? If not, invest in a larger pair of running shoes and give your toes the room they need. 

You might try wearing two pairs of socks when you run or using silicone toe pads to absorb some of the extra pressure each time your toes inevitably hit the front of your shoe. 

2. Moisturize and trim your toenails

Before your daily run, moisturize your toenails. A combination of coconut oil and tea tree oil can help keep your toenails moisturized while minimizing the chance for fungus and infection under the nail. 

Additionally, make sure you keep your toenails trimmed in a square shape rather than rounding your nails. A boxier-shaped toenail can help prevent the edges from digging into your skin and causing an ingrown toenail – another culprit for infection and throbbing pain. 

3. Don’t pull your toenail off – seek professional treatment instead

If you do have an infected, black, or ingrown toenail, don’t attempt to treat it yourself. Pulling your toenail off can rip your nail bed and make the situation even more painful. If your nail needs treatment, seek the help of a professional podiatrist. Our exceptionally skilled team of foot and ankle surgeons can provide quick, often painless, and highly effective treatment for bruised, infected runners’ toenails. 

Finally, if you’ve taken all these precautions and preventive measures, but you’re still dealing with painful toenails and foot problems as a result of your intense running schedule, come see us. We take a personalized approach to preventing and alleviating nail and foot issues, based on your individual needs.

Call the office closest to you to schedule an appointment or book online today. 

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