It’s not just an old wives tale. If you ever run long distances on the trail or road it’s something that might happen to you. Or maybe it already has. But why do runners’ toenails fall off and how can runners prevent it? Below we’ll look at the causes, treatments, and ways to keep it from happening.
Why do Runners Toenails Fall Off?
There are typically a few main issues that cause the majority of runners to lose their toenails.
- Major trauma to the toe
- Repetitive minor trauma to the toe
- Repeated friction on the toe
These will typically first result in the blackening of the toenail. While not always painful, sometimes a blood blister can form under the nail. This will result in pressure, causing pain. If you have pain in your toe, you should consult with a doctor.
If you develop a black toenail, there is a good chance you are going to lose the nail. Don’t worry, it will grow back. The first thing is to monitor any pain or sensitivity. This is caused by the swelling in the toe. If it becomes painful you will need to drain the blood. A simple pin prick will release the blood, relieving the pressure and pain instantly. This should be done by a doctor. If you look online, you might be able to find a simple way to do it yourself with a simple needle. But for any liability purposes, you should go to a doctor.
Once you have had the toe drained, it’s important to take care of it. Make sure to let it breathe and the less it is stuffed in in a sock and shoe, the faster it will heal. Then given time, the nail will just fall off painlessly or can be removed by your doctor.
How to Prevent Your Toenail Damaged While Running
Proper Fitting Shoes
The first step in preventing damage to your toe, is making sure to have properly fitting shoes. Make sure they have room in the toe box.
Don’t Over Tighten Your Laces
You want your laces to be firm but not constricting. As you run your feet can swell. This is especially true with longer distances or in hotter weather.
Trim Your Toenails
Longer toe nails can create pressure on the toe as they compress against the front of the shoe. By trimming your toenail to a reasonable length, you can avoid this added pressure on the toe and nail.
Quality Running Socks
Next to your shoes, socks are an important part of gear for toe care. Never run in cotton socks and if you’re running a lot, invest in quality socks. I highly recommend these Balega running socks for both road and trail.
It’s no secret in the running community that we love lube. We put it anywhere there will be contact between skin and fabric. And this is especially important for your feet. Cover them thoroughly with some sort of friction cream before your longer runs. I’m a fan on this Gold Bond Friction Defense.