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Runner's Issue: Black Toenails?

Runner's Issue: Black Toenails?

There are many health perks to endurance training for events like marathons, but there are some unfortunate consequences to logging that many miles. You could end up with a subungual hematoma, which is medical speak for bleeding under your toenails. This condition of blood collecting under the nailbed can cause some severe pain, and it will also turn your toenails black – painful and not at all pretty.

You can prevent the dreaded black toenail by making sure your sneakers fit properly. If your shoes don't fit well, your foot may slide forward with each step you take. This sliding action brings your toes in contact with the front of your shoe. This consistent tapping injures your toenail which makes it bleed underneath.

To ensure proper sneaker fit, you should have about a thumbs-width distance between your big toe and the end of the shoe. Your heels shouldn't be sliding up and down either. It is worth it to take a trip to a running store and have the running enthusiasts there help you find a shoe that fits well.

Fit's Tip: When this condition arises, you can still wear your fashionable sandals. Just opt for a dark toe nail polish that will cover up your bruise.

Image Source: Getty
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hkmarks hkmarks 8 years
If this happens go to a doctor IMMEDIATELY. It's not a dangerous condition, but if you go right away they can drain the blood out by burning a hole in your nail. If you wait, it'll clot and they can't do anything. The main source of pain is the pressure of the blood on the sensitive skin under your nail. Happened to my finger once. Ouch.
kia kia 8 years
Also consider learning how to re-tie your shoes. After the L. A. Marathon YEARS AGO I lost my big toenail following it turning black from the race. While it took forever to grow back I tied that shoe so that my toe box was slightly lifted. If I had only done that from the start my toenail would have been fine. Those shoes fit me well leading up to the race but on that day I had issues.
murdock99tx murdock99tx 8 years
Toe-tally agree with you, NLM1212!
NLM1212 NLM1212 8 years
My toenails are certainly nowhere near pretty from all the distance running and marathon training I do. But I'll take awesome legs over a few ugly toenails!
gigill gigill 8 years
This is why I don't do high impact sports.
sparklestar sparklestar 8 years
Oh my goodness! I have this on my left big toenail and I wondered what on earth was wrong! Thank you for this article, my mind is at rest about it now! :)
Spectra Spectra 8 years
Ugh, I get these all the time. It's mostly because my feet are slightly different sizes and my left foot seems to rub against my shoes more than my right foot. At any given time, I have either a black toenail or a new toenail nub growing in. They don't really hurt, but it's a main reason for me not to wear flip flops very often.
TidalWave TidalWave 8 years
Yeah i always wear nail polish on my toes for that reason. it always happens on the same toe for me no matter the shoes. But it doesn't hurt or anything and then your toenail will usually fall off within a few months. and grow back! and turn purple! yay! And i have yet to go to a professional running store with running experts who have sold me a shoe that didn't put me in some serious pain! Cheap flats are the only shoes for me!
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