If you’re a runner, eventually you may have asked yourself the question: why are my toenails black from running?
Whether it’s your big toe or all of them, discovering that your toenail color has changed can be worrying. I’m going to explain why this happens and offer some advice on how to prevent it, next time you go running.
The Anatomy of Black Toenails
If you’re a runner, you may have experienced the unpleasant surprise of discovering black toenails after a long run.
While this may seem like a minor inconvenience, it’s important to understand the anatomy of black toenails and the potential causes to prevent future occurrences.
Why Are My Toenails Black From Running?
If you’re a runner, you may have experienced black toenails from time to time. This can be a frustrating and painful experience, but it’s important to understand why it’s happening, so you can take steps to prevent it from happening again.
One of the main causes of black toenails from running is repetitive trauma to the nail bed, which is just one of the running injuries you can end up with.
This can occur when your toes repeatedly hit the end of your shoe while you run, especially if your shoes are too small or too tight.
The big toe and second toe, which are the longest toes, are particularly susceptible to this type of trauma, and potential blood blisters from the blood vessels, to give a blackened toenail effect.
Another common cause of black toenails from running is a blister that forms under the toenail.
When this happens, the pressure from the blister can cause the nail to lift off the nail bed, which can lead to bleeding and discoloration. If left untreated, the toenail may eventually fall off.
In some cases, a bruised toenail can also cause the nail to turn black. This can happen if you accidentally stub your toe or drop something heavy on your foot.
The bruise can cause bleeding under the nail, which can lead to discolorations.
Pounding the Pavement – How Running Affects Your Toenails
The Impact of Running on Toenails
When you’re running, your feet are constantly pounding the pavement, which can cause a lot of stress on your toes.
This stress can lead to a number of different injuries, including black toenails. Black toenails in runners are a common occurrence, and they’re usually caused by the repeated impact of your toe hitting the end of your shoe.
The Importance of Proper Running Shoes and Socks
One of the best ways to prevent black toenails is to wear the right shoes and socks. Your shoes should have a roomy toe box that allows your toes to move around freely.
If your shoes are too tight, your toenail can repeatedly hit the end of the shoe, causing it to turn black. Your running socks should also be made of a breathable material that wicks away moisture.
This will help keep your feet dry and reduce the risk of blisters and other injuries, which causes runner’s toes.
It’s also important to make sure your shoes fit properly. If your foot slides around inside your shoe, you’re more likely to develop black toenails. Your running coach can help you find the right shoes for your feet.
Tips to Prevent Runner’s Toe
If you notice your toenail turning black, it’s important to act right away. First, clip your nails straight across and make sure they’re not too long.
This will reduce the stress on your toes and help prevent black toenails. You can also try draining the blood under the nail by using a sterile needle to make a small hole.
If the nail is painful or there are signs of infection, seek medical attention. Treatment may involve removing the nail or using an antibiotic ointment.
Black toenails aren’t uncommon among runners, but they can be prevented with proper footwear and nail care.
By keeping your toenails short and your shoes and socks in good condition, you can reduce the stress of running on your toes and enjoy a pain-free workout.
Preventing Black Toenails – Tips and Tricks for Runners
Black toenails from running can be a painful and unsightly problem that many runners face. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent black toenails and keep your feet healthy and comfortable while you run.
Steps to Prevent Black Toenails
One of the most important steps you can take to prevent black toenails is to make sure your running shoes fit properly.
Shoes that are too tight or too loose can put pressure on your toes and cause black toenails. When trying on running shoes, make sure there is enough space in the toe box for your toes to move comfortably within the shoe.
Another important step is to pay attention to your mileage. As you increase your mileage, your feet may swell and your shoes may start to feel tighter.
Make sure to replace your shoes regularly and consider getting a larger size if necessary.
Proper lacing techniques can also help prevent black toenails. Try different lacing patterns to find one that works best for you and provides the most comfortable fit.
Consider wearing moisture-wicking socks to keep your feet dry and prevent moisture buildup, which can lead to fungal infections and other foot problems.
Silicone toe pads can also help prevent black toenails by providing extra cushioning and reducing pressure on your toes.
If you have a history of ingrown toenails, make sure to trim your nails regularly and wear shoes that provide plenty of space in the toe box.
If you do develop a black toenail, it’s important to seek treatment right away. Depending on the severity of the injury, treatment options may include draining fluid from under the nail, removing part of the nail plate, or even surgery.
Toenail Trauma – When Black Toenails Are a Sign of Something More Serious
If you’re a runner, you may have experienced black toenails at some point. While these darkened nails are often a result of bruising or minor trauma, they can also be a sign of something more serious.
In this section, we’ll explore some of the common causes of toenail trauma and the potential complications that runners may experience.
Common Toenail Trauma
Toenail trauma is a common occurrence for runners. The repetitive impact of your feet hitting the ground can cause your toenails to become bruised or damaged over time.
This can lead to black toenails, which may be painful or unsightly. Ill-fitting shoes can also contribute to toenail trauma, as they can put pressure on your toes and cause them to rub against the inside of your shoe.
Complications from Runners
While toenail trauma is often a minor issue, it can sometimes lead to more serious complications. For example, a deformed nail may develop if the trauma is severe enough.
This can cause the nail to grow in an abnormal shape or become thick and discolored.
In some cases, toenail trauma can also lead to an infection. This is more likely to occur if the nail is damaged or if there is an underlying issue, such as a fungal infection.
If you notice any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or pus, it’s important to seek medical attention right away.
To prevent complications from toenail trauma, it’s important to take steps to protect your feet. This may include wearing proper footwear, keeping your nails trimmed, and seeking medical attention if you notice any signs of infection or other issues.
The Road to Recovery – How to Treat Black Toenails from Running
If you’re experiencing black toenails from running, there are a few things you can do to help them heal and prevent further damage. Here are some tips for treating black toenails at home and when to see a podiatrist.
The first step in treating black toenails from running is to take a break from running or any other activity that puts pressure on your toes. This will allow your toenails to heal and prevent further damage.
Here are some other things you can do at home to help your black toenails heal:
- Soak your feet in warm water with Epsom salt to reduce swelling and pain.
- Apply ice to your toes to reduce swelling and pain.
- Elevate your feet to reduce swelling.
- Wear comfortable shoes that fit properly and provide adequate support.
- Keep your toenails trimmed and filed to prevent further damage.
When to See a Podiatrist
If your black toenails are causing severe pain or are not healing on their own, it may be time to see a podiatrist.
A podiatrist can help diagnose the underlying cause of your black toenails and provide treatment options.
Here are some signs that it may be time to see a podiatrist:
- Severe pain or discomfort
- Signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or pus
- Toenails that are not healing on their own
- Toenails that are separating from the nail bed
Black toenails from running can be a frustrating and sometimes painful experience. But understanding why it happens, as well as taking steps to prevent it, can help keep your feet healthy and comfortable on the road or trail.
At home, make sure to take a break from running and any other activities that put pressure on your toes.
Soak your feet in warm water with Epsom salt, apply ice, elevate your feet, wear comfortable shoes that fit properly, and trim your nails regularly. If you need treatment options or if the black toenail is not healing on its own, see a podiatrist for further evaluation.
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