Running and toe pain

September 30, 2015

Toe pain whilst exercising is a common complaint. Usually this is accompanied by blackened or bruised nails and nails that can even fall off after exercising. The most common cause of this condition is repeated trauma to the toe and nail. This trauma results in dark discoloration that is referred to as a subungual hematoma, which simply means there is a collection of blood underneath the nail. This collection of fluid not only causes the nail to become discoloured but also generates a tremendous amount of pressure which can lead to severe pain.

The most common cause of repeated nail trauma is ill-fitting footwear – shoes that are too short in length, too narrow in width or too shallow in depth at the front of the shoe. Podiatrists recommend at least one finger width (approx. 1-1.5cm) of length from the end of the longest toe to the front of the shoe. We also need to allow for sufficient depth so that the toes are not pushing onto the top of the shoe. In addition to this, certain activities will require extra length at the front of the shoe. For example trail walking or running where thicker socks may be required and when the terrain is varied, require extra shoe length to ensure the toes are not banging up against the front of the shoe.

Podiatrists recommend having your shoes fitted correctly and ensuring that the shoe laces are tied in the correct way, to keep the foot secure at the back of the shoe. This will greatly reduce your risk of developing toe pain from ill fitting footwear. It is also advisable to keep your toenails trimmed as short as possible before a big event.  If you try these simple solutions and you are still having trouble, or you have toe pain that does not resolve itself then book in with one of our podiatrists for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.