If you're taking up running, you'll likely come across a fellow runner who will warn you about the "black toe." This term isn't exactly accurate — many runners develop black toenails on the big toes, but the color change is limited to the nail itself. While some runners see this condition as something of a badge of courage and proof of their dedication to their craft, it might not be something that you favor — especially if you frequently wear open-toed shoes in public. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to avoid these bruises beneath both big toenails. If you do encounter this ailment, make sure to see a podiatrist for suggestions on how to care for it. Here are some steps to take to avoid the "black toe."
Ensure That Your Shoes Fit Correctly
The blackened toenail occurs as a result of your big toes pushing into the tips of your shoes with each stride. This can occur in shoes that are too tight and too loose. In the former, the constant pressure on your toenails can lead to bruising; in the latter, your feet will slide forward enough to impact the front of the shoes, which occurs thousands of times during a run. You'll want to be sure that your shoes fit correctly — they shouldn't be too tight, but they also shouldn't be so loose that your feet can move around excessively.
Lace Your Shoes Tighter
If you notice that your feet are sliding around inside your shoes and that your toes are making repeated contact with the inside toe areas of your shoes, tightening your laces can help. In doing so, you'll be able to hold your feet more stationary inside the shoes, thus preventing the impacts that can cause your toenails to turn black. This is especially important if you're running on a downward incline for part of the run, as there's already the pressure of gravity pushing your toes forward.
Don't Overdo It
It's understandable if you want to throw yourself into this athletic endeavor, but moderation is key. Starting off with shorter runs, and giving yourself plenty of recovery time between each outing is an effective way to allow your toes to heel between runs and prevent the growth of bruising. Not overdoing it is also advisable for your overall body, as pushing yourself too much before you're used to the activity may lead to muscle and joint injuries.