MD Podiatrist Discusses Runner’s Toe

Your toenails can take quite a beating when you’re pounding the pavement or hitting the treadmill, notes Dan Michaels, DPM. Every stride may put a bit of stress on your toenails (particularly on your big toe). Over time, that can take a toll. “Runner’s toe” describes the damage caused by pressure, shearing, and friction as your toenail repeatedly and forcefully makes contact with the front or side of your shoe. This repetitive impact can lead to a subungual hematoma.
Easing up on activity, especially if you’re experiencing pain, will give your toenail a chance to heal. The blackened toenail will eventually grow out over time. It’s also a good idea to get your feet properly sized at a local shoe store to assure you have enough toe box space in your shoes. This can help limit the friction that causes runner’s toe. Try to avoid painting over black toenails with polish, recommends Dr. Michaels. While it may improve the appearance of your toenail, polish also prevents your nail from breathing and isn’t healthy for long periods of time.