Skip navigation
Community: Exchange advice in the forums and read running commentary Resources: Personal running log, calculators, links and other tools for runners News: Running news from around the world Training: Articles and advice about fitness, race training and injury prevention Races/Results: Find upcoming races and past results Home: The Cool Running homepage
Cool Running homepage  Search Cool Running Community

4647 Views 17 Replies Latest reply: Aug 23, 2011 8:53 PM by runnergilr RSS 1 2 Previous Next
runnergilr Amateur 5 posts since
Mar 28, 2011
Currently Being Moderated

Aug 7, 2011 8:38 PM

how can i prevent black runners toes nails

hi everyone I need help, I really do. I've been running for almost one year. have done 3 1/2 marathons and 2 10ks. now my family and I are training for a full marathon in October. my problem is that after my 3 1/2 marathon I got runner's toes.  Now when my training plans calls for a long run of 10 mile or more I end up with sore light black toe nails.  it does not get to the point where it get real black and falls of.  Since my marathon day is getting closer and my runs are getting longer by the week I am trying to prevent my nail from getting to hurt. I am wearing my special running socks and my running shoes are 1/2 a size bigger. if any one has a suggestion please let me know. I would really appreciate it.

  • JasonFitz1 Legend 572 posts since
    Jun 19, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Aug 8, 2011 3:22 AM (in response to runnergilr)
    Re: how can i prevent black runners toes nails

    You mentioned that your shoes are a half size bigger. That's a good start, but try to really make sure you have at least a thumbs-width of space between your big toe and the end of the shoe. Otherwise, your problem is likely form related - you could be slamming your feet too hard on the ground, twisting your toes into your shoe, etc.

     

    I recommend getting new shoes, a different style that has a roomier toe box (even a shoe that's a half size bigger with a narrow toe box could be causing your black toenails).

     

    Good luck!

    - Jason.





    Strength Running
  • bu11fr0g Amateur 23 posts since
    May 14, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    2. Aug 8, 2011 9:03 AM (in response to runnergilr)
    Re: how can i prevent black runners toes nails

    From simple to hard:

     

    1- trim the toenails before running

    2- for long runs, having space for the feet to get bigger is important

    3- tell them the problem at a running store and see if they can identify a problem with shoe fit.

    4- you can also heat a paperclip red hot and create a micropuncture in each toenail.  this will stop blood from accumulating and stop the black toenail.  this is the ultimate answer but one i would only suggest for ultramarathons.

      (how to do it:  http://walking.about.com/od/blisterfoot/a/blacktoenail.htm)

    5- have the toenails surgically removed -- this is a hot new trend for ultramarathoners.  (see article here:  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/22/fashion/22FITNESS.html)

  • JasonCR Pro 70 posts since
    Aug 30, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    3. Aug 8, 2011 3:07 PM (in response to runnergilr)
    Re: how can i prevent black runners toes nails

    Wow, I did not know this was a common problem ... I have a single toe nail that's been dark for like a year and a half, I just ignore it!  It doesn't hurt.  *shrug*  (Right foot, one next to the big toe.)  It didn't start until after 1.5 years of running when I started running a bit faster.

     

    Oh gosh, suggestion #5 makes my skin crawl!!





    Just Do It!

  • Joseph Tree Legend 378 posts since
    Oct 22, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    4. Aug 8, 2011 3:53 PM (in response to runnergilr)
    Re: how can i prevent black runners toes nails

    I'll add one more, even more radical option:  lose the shoes!  Barefoot runners don't get their toenails beaten off.  Actually,  running BF is a great way to get to a gentle, low impact running form.

     

    I was impressed yet again last Saturday morning, as I was running a 5K, how noisy most shod runners are.  The thumping and pounding I was hearing were nearly breathtaking!  If you sound anything like a lot of those folks, it's a wonder you have any toenails left at all.

     

    Good luck, in any case!





    Barefoot / Minimalist Runner

    ...not maintaining this these days..

    07/29/2012 Marsh Creek Raptor Run 10 Mile Trail Race

    07/15/2012 Quadzilla 15K Trail Run, Trexlertown, PA 1:37 (2011, 1:49)

    04/29/2012 Lehigh Valley / St. Luke's HM, 1:43:15 (2011, 1:54:20 )

    03/19/2012 Kutztown Fool's Run 10 Miler, 1:18:15 (2011, 1:30:20)

    02/26/2012 Ugly Mudder 7.2 Mile Trail Run, Reading, PA 1:20

    11/27/2011 Dirty Bird 15K Trail Run, Birdsboro, PA 1:40

    10/08/2011 Lehigh Gap Nature Center 10K Trail Run (6.38 miles), 59:20 (10/07/2012)

    Started running (again) May 5, 2010

  • slowskinnyrunner Pro 67 posts since
    Apr 11, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    5. Aug 10, 2011 12:08 PM (in response to runnergilr)
    Re: how can i prevent black runners toes nails

    I do not believe there is a way to prevent dark toenails besides not running. I simply use dark polishes and keep my toenails painted. There are lots of dark pretty  colors available.





    Ham Jam Hog Wild Run 5K - April 16, 2011....................37.32

    State Games of MS Cross Country 5K - June 4, 2011......39.03

    Slow Poke 5K - August 13, 2011....................................37.17

    Rush Run For Your Heart - September 24, 2011...............37.39

    Homecoming 5K - October 8, 2011.................................

    Run For Home 10K - November 12, 2011.........................

    Jingle Bell Run 5K - December 3, 2011............................

    It's very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit. ~George Sheehan

  • Paularun Pro 92 posts since
    Jul 9, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    6. Aug 10, 2011 1:11 PM (in response to slowskinnyrunner)
    Re: how can i prevent black runners toes nails

    I am very far from running a marathon, but what I already know is that my shoes are at least 1 size bigger than my normal shoe size. I never feel the tiniest bit of my toes.

    If I were you I would give it a try and go for a shoe with more room. My shoes are very loose, I regulate the fit by lacing them tighter or loose.

  • Julie Ann Hackett Legend 228 posts since
    Nov 20, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    7. Aug 10, 2011 1:19 PM (in response to runnergilr)
    Re: how can i prevent black runners toes nails

    I'm a runner and triathlete so I do lots of running without socks which leads to all kind of interesting black spots and fully black nails.  I have found its usually the same toes that turn black (one toe actually sits a little taller than the others and is the first to go black) so when I ran with socks I would cut little strips of duct tape to wrap around the toes (this works good on blister prone areas too).  Now that I run without socks most often I've started slathering my toes with Aquaphor before running.  I really didn't think this would work since I figured it would rub off immediately.  It may rub off, but it must rub off onto the shoe making the surface slick preventing the harsh rubbing.  I haven't had any black nails since I started using the Aquaphor.  Another trick I've heard but haven't tried is using diabetic socks.

     

    I do enjoy running barefoot but would recommend you do some research before going that route.  If you give up your shoes completely and try to run your regular distance barefoot you might end up injured.

  • lenzlaw Community Moderator 10,387 posts since
    Jan 18, 2008

    Running barefoot might work but I've never gone far enough to find out.  Another possibility is wearing toe socks.  That has seemed to work for me in the couple marathons that I've worn them.

     

    Len





    Len

  • Monkey In The Middle Amateur 22 posts since
    Sep 5, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    9. Aug 10, 2011 5:04 PM (in response to runnergilr)
    Re: how can i prevent black runners toes nails

    What a great topic runnergilr.  Just about 1/2 of all of my toes are black but pain free.

     

    There's some great advice here but I like slowskinnyrunner's answer the best LOL!  Cover them up.

     

    I am definitely going to try using aquaphor too.  Good luck with your marathon training.





    Looking forward to this: http://www.hotchocolate15k.com/sandiego/

  • Leadville Fan Pro 176 posts since
    Oct 8, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    10. Aug 12, 2011 8:55 AM (in response to runnergilr)
    Re: how can i prevent black runners toes nails

    My index toes are actually slightly longer than my big toe, thus they take the brunt of any impact.   I keep the nails trimmed back, so there pretty much is no nail past the part that is attached to teh skin.

     

    My longer runs I wear Ingenix toe socks, I tend to have less blisters and less toe impact when these socks.

     

    When I race and get the black toenails, after a few days I gently lift up the nail. If it comes off the nailbed (due to the dried blood under it) I will trim it off and keep it short the rest of racing season.

     

     

    Black toe nails are a side effect of racing.

     

     

    Funniest thing I have seen--last pedicure I got, I told the guy just to paint the stubby toenail. Instead, he painted the skin above it too, to give it the appearance of being long. To everyone else it probably looked normal. I was disappointed, as I saw the short nail as my "badge" for being a runner :-D





    adult running life commenced: March 2009

    2012 Rock n Roll USA Marathon 5:28:53 unseasonably hot day, full sunshine, sunburned and dehydrated during race

    Omaha Maraton 5:17: __ yeah, new PR! Too bad the brain got in the way and slowed me down! ---recycled glass finisher medals.

    2011:

    April Fools 5K 32:13.7 age division: 28/71

    7th half: Kansas City Hospital Hill 1/2--this thing is tough, but the heat/humidity were tougher: 2:45:43

    8th half: Park 2 Park 1/2-New PR 2:21 and change

    St. Louis FULL Marathon (my first!!!) Hilly, hilly, course full of turns 5:24

    Sullivan Bros. Veterans' 5K 30:10 New 5K PR

    2010:

    4th half (5/1/10) --ran injured, DUMB move.

    Sullivan Bros. Veteran's 5K/10K (11/2010) 1:07:17.7

    6th half: Vegas half (12/2010) New PR! woot woot. 02:27:58

    2009

    St. Patricks 8K (Wash. D.C.) (3/2009)

    1st half 3:04 (5/2009)

    10K 1:17 (10/31/09) HOT, humid, Kaua'i

    3rd half: Vegas 1/2 (2:34:48) (12/2009)

    I will live my life; life lived in fear is not living. ~~me

  • Joseph Tree Legend 378 posts since
    Oct 22, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    12. Aug 12, 2011 9:59 AM (in response to runnergilr)
    Re: how can i prevent black runners toes nails

    Holy cow!  You shod runners are tough!  I'm not sure I'd be happy to sacrifice my toenails every time I run a long race.





    Barefoot / Minimalist Runner

    ...not maintaining this these days..

    07/29/2012 Marsh Creek Raptor Run 10 Mile Trail Race

    07/15/2012 Quadzilla 15K Trail Run, Trexlertown, PA 1:37 (2011, 1:49)

    04/29/2012 Lehigh Valley / St. Luke's HM, 1:43:15 (2011, 1:54:20 )

    03/19/2012 Kutztown Fool's Run 10 Miler, 1:18:15 (2011, 1:30:20)

    02/26/2012 Ugly Mudder 7.2 Mile Trail Run, Reading, PA 1:20

    11/27/2011 Dirty Bird 15K Trail Run, Birdsboro, PA 1:40

    10/08/2011 Lehigh Gap Nature Center 10K Trail Run (6.38 miles), 59:20 (10/07/2012)

    Started running (again) May 5, 2010

  • Leadville Fan Pro 176 posts since
    Oct 8, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    13. Aug 12, 2011 11:11 AM (in response to runnergilr)
    Re: how can i prevent black runners toes nails

    If you trim your toenails back before a race. . . do so at least 3-4 days in adavnce, otherwise your toe skin will be tender where there was nail cover and is no longer.





    adult running life commenced: March 2009

    2012 Rock n Roll USA Marathon 5:28:53 unseasonably hot day, full sunshine, sunburned and dehydrated during race

    Omaha Maraton 5:17: __ yeah, new PR! Too bad the brain got in the way and slowed me down! ---recycled glass finisher medals.

    2011:

    April Fools 5K 32:13.7 age division: 28/71

    7th half: Kansas City Hospital Hill 1/2--this thing is tough, but the heat/humidity were tougher: 2:45:43

    8th half: Park 2 Park 1/2-New PR 2:21 and change

    St. Louis FULL Marathon (my first!!!) Hilly, hilly, course full of turns 5:24

    Sullivan Bros. Veterans' 5K 30:10 New 5K PR

    2010:

    4th half (5/1/10) --ran injured, DUMB move.

    Sullivan Bros. Veteran's 5K/10K (11/2010) 1:07:17.7

    6th half: Vegas half (12/2010) New PR! woot woot. 02:27:58

    2009

    St. Patricks 8K (Wash. D.C.) (3/2009)

    1st half 3:04 (5/2009)

    10K 1:17 (10/31/09) HOT, humid, Kaua'i

    3rd half: Vegas 1/2 (2:34:48) (12/2009)

    I will live my life; life lived in fear is not living. ~~me

  • almontco1 Amateur 8 posts since
    Aug 5, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    14. Aug 18, 2011 7:45 AM (in response to Leadville Fan)
    Re: how can i prevent black runners toes nails

    Some good advice here.  Think of black toenails as being similar to bruises.  Your toenails often turn black because of some kind of impact.  So the burning question here is what is causing the impact?  For road runners, black toenails are usually caused by friction with a part of the toebox.  Like what's already been said, proper shoe fit and wearing shoes with a large enough toebox is essential.  The other thing that commonly causes black toenails is foot slide.  When your shoes hit the pavement you are basically putting on the brakes.  Your foot slides forward in the shoe and the result is that your toes slam into the front of the toebox.  Prevent foot slide by making sure your heel is locked in place.  For trail runners, black toenails often occur from slamming into objects like rocks and roots.  Foot slide is another culprit which occurs more offen on downhills.   Again, heel lock will reduce foot slide on downhills.  Toenail loss and black toenails are kind of like tattoos in the ultrarunning community.  Currently I'm a nine-toenailed ultrarunner!    Good luck.            





    2011 Races

    Chippewa Moraine 50k, Kettle Moraine 100 Mile, Voyageur 50 Mile, Superior 100 Mile.

    2010 Races

    Chippewa Moraine 50k, 3 trail marathons, 4 road marathons, 1 recovery from Lyme disease.

1 2 Previous Next

More Like This

  • Retrieving data ...

Legend

  • Correct Answers - 10 points
  • Helpful Answers - 7 points