How to prevent or lessen chances of getting black and bruised toenails after running

My "beautiful black and bruised toe nails" on 1st and 2nd toe of my left foot after running River Jungle Marathon 2013 (RJM 2013) at Hulu Langat and Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon 2013 (SCKLM 2013). Sweet memory!

Ask any runners especially full marathon or long distance runners about black and bruised toenails - I think you will find most of them have experienced at least once if not more times having a black and bruised toenails. :)

If you dare - ask runners another question, " Can I see your toenails?

Most probably, you will see some of the ugliest toe nails you have ever seen. lol!

What is the major cause of black and bruised toenails

It's probably due to repetitive trauma on the toenail due to the top of the shoe striking the nail with each step or the toe sliding forward into the end of the shoe.

And if we run downhills, the problem will be aggravated. Our speed will increase automatically and our foot will tend to slide forward as we slant your shoe downward. This will create a ramp for our foot to slid down.

Of course - the longer distance we run, the more prone we are to have black and bruised toenails with each additional step we take which creates extra stress on the nail

And don't forget  - our feet will e x p a n d or rather s w e l l after long run. So if you are looking for big foot, go check out someone's foot after long distance running. :) Joke aside - with expanded foot, it reduces the space our foot can move inside the shoe. Indirectly it reduces the shoe size.

Now you know why many ultramarathoners are renowned for their ugly toenails. Well - don't laugh - if you are a runner like me - we also have our fair shares of unly toenails! :)

But no worries - it's nothing serious to worry about besides the ugliness. :) 

Anyway, there are ways to prevent or lessen chances of getting black and bruised toenails. Here are some tips to share with you:

How to present or lessen chances of getting black and bruised toenails

1. Wear properly-fitted shoes 

Yes - wearing properly-fitted running shoes is the most important of all. We need to wear a pair of running shoes that has sufficient room for our foot to slide forward. We also need to watch out for the toe box of our running shoes. If it's too low, it will push down on the top of our toes we we push off the ground.

I take myself as an example. It's through experiences and having few black and bruised toenails to finally realize the importance of wearing half-size bigger shoe

Additionally, if you are wider foot like myself, you might also look for brands that carry shoes with wider toe box. I know for sure New Balance is well known for it - a recommendation from a running friend.

H A L F - S I Z E   B I G G E R  SHOE

2. Lace your shoes properly

I never realized that shoe lacing is a technique!

Shoes that are laced too tight can compress the toenails. Conversely, a shoe that is not laced tightly enough will allow our foot to slide too far forward, banging our nails against the front end of the shoe.

And I used to lace my shoes very very loose - allowing more toe box space in the toe box area for the "sliding forward times" during downhill running. But little did I realize that this made my foot sliding forward more easily, causing impact with the the end of the shoe.

Dilemma! dilemma! dilemma!

I have tried the below which I stumbled upon asking Mr Google:
Shoe lacing teachnique to prevent black toes.
Image source: Internet.

The above shoe lacing technique works wonderfully. I experienced less time of having black and bruised toenails after running full marathons.

However, earlier this year, I have tried out LOCK LACING shoe lacing technique as demonstrated below (image no 3):

Lock Lacing Technique (no 3) - my current choice -
not only it helps me to have less black & bruised toe nails but also
to make my run more efficient.  (Image source: Athelet's Foot)

I have found that with the LOCK LACING shoe lacing technique, I not only managed to prevent my foot from sliding forward too often or too much, I also managed to improve on my speed. I guess it also means more efficient running with less no energy wasted on "sliding forward". :) So I'm very happy with this lacing technique - and I have been running with this lock lacing technique this year. So far so good! I'm very happy with it!

In summary

Based on my personal experience, it's the combination of wearing half-size bigger shoe (which allows foot expansion and wider toe box area) and lock lacing shoe lacing technique that do the tricks for me.

Not entirely bye bye to black and bruised toenails - but definitely I see less of them on my foot. :)


1 comment:

  1. Great experience... not only running shoes will cause bruised toenails, regular or sharp shoes can cause bruised toenails, if you dont get a proper size.