Black Toenail From Running

by Rebecca Kelly
(Ontario, Canada)

I have had shin splints, a sprained ankle, and even a touch of frostbite. But, the worst running injury was the black toenail.

This is when the upper part of the shoe repeatedly hits or puts pressure on the toe. It can be from poorly fitted shoes, toenails that are too long or maybe from a long run (because shorter runs don’t seem to cause a problem). The result is a pool of blood trapped underneath the toenail.

It is just really tender and then you have to wait for the toenail to grow out…all the while you have this horrible looking toe. Actually, it didn’t hurt as much as some of the other running injuries. The thing that gets me about it is that it is my own fault. I mean I could have prevented it. And that is why for me it was the worst running injury.

You know when you are running and you can feel that your big toe is going up and hitting the mesh of the upper shoe. Well, with enough force and repetition, this is how I got my black toenail. So I knew that my toe was being restricted even on shorter runs, it just was not a problem yet.

After this incident, I fixed my shoes or destroyed them (depends on your viewpoint). What I did was to take a utility knife from my husband’s toolbox and cut a slice across the big toe section on the top of my shoes. It slices the mesh, but does not totally wreck my shoes. Really, if I am wearing a hole out at this point in the shoe anyways, why not just avoid the pain in my toe and just cut it straight away?

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Jan 22, 2013
Preventing Black Toenail
by: Sheila Tulley

You make an excellent argument on why this was the worst running injury for you, Rebecca. I wouldn't have thought of the black toenail as that bad, but when you consider that it hurts to run and that you could have prevented it, I see your point.

I love your fix for the problem. Very creative of you.

For me it was tripping on another cross-country runner's heels and tumbling down a short hill. It was not so much the pain of the fall, but the ending of my race that really hurt.

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