As a passionate runner, I’ve experienced my fair share of black toenails. It’s not the most glamorous topic, but it’s something that many runners have to deal with. Whether you’re training for a marathon or just enjoy hitting the pavement for a few miles, black toenails can be a common and sometimes painful result of logging those miles.
Firstly, let’s understand what causes black toenails in runners. The most common cause is repetitive trauma to the toenail, usually from the toe constantly hitting the front of the shoe. This can happen due to ill-fitting shoes, running downhill or on uneven surfaces, or even just the natural motion of your foot when running. The repeated pressure and friction can cause blood vessels under the nail bed to burst, resulting in a black or darkened appearance.
Now that we understand the cause, let’s talk about how to get rid of black toenails and prevent them from happening in the future:
1. Properly fitting shoes
One of the most important factors in preventing black toenails is wearing properly fitting shoes. Your running shoes should have enough room in the toe box area to allow your toes to move freely without rubbing against the front of the shoe. Visit a specialty running store to get fitted for the right shoes for your foot shape and gait.
2. Trim your toenails
Keeping your toenails trimmed is essential for preventing black toenails. If your nails are too long, they can hit the front of your shoe and cause trauma. Trim them straight across, and avoid cutting them too short or rounding the edges, as this can increase the risk of ingrown toenails.
3. Moisturize your feet
Dry and brittle nails are more prone to injury and trauma. Keep your feet moisturized by applying lotion regularly, paying extra attention to the areas around your toenails. This will help keep your nails strong and less likely to crack or break.
4. Wear moisture-wicking socks
Sweaty feet can lead to a moist environment inside your shoes, which can increase friction and the risk of black toenails. Invest in moisture-wicking socks that can help keep your feet dry and minimize the chances of developing blisters or toenail trauma.
5. Gradually increase mileage
One common mistake that runners make is increasing their mileage too quickly. This sudden increase in distance can put extra stress on your feet and toes, increasing the risk of black toenails. Gradually build up your mileage over time to give your feet and nails a chance to adapt.
6. Seek professional help
If you already have a black toenail that is causing discomfort or pain, it may be best to seek professional help. A podiatrist can assess the situation and provide appropriate treatment, which may include draining the blood from under the nail or even removing the nail if necessary. Avoid trying to do this on your own, as it can lead to infection or further damage.
Remember, prevention is key when it comes to black toenails. Taking care of your feet and wearing proper gear can go a long way in avoiding this common running issue. If you do develop a black toenail, don’t panic. With time and proper care, it will eventually grow out and be replaced with a healthy nail.
In conclusion, black toenails may be an uncomfortable and unsightly part of being a runner, but they don’t have to be a lasting issue. By taking the necessary precautions, such as wearing proper shoes, trimming your nails, and moisturizing your feet, you can significantly reduce the risk of developing black toenails. Remember to listen to your body, seek professional help if needed, and keep on running!