How To Prevent Black Toenails (Or Cover Them With Nail Polish)


A bruised toe nail, also known as a black toenail, can be a problem for runners of all distances. I had two black big toenails last summer and, believe me, it’s not that funny in open-toe season ;-)

Typically, a black nail is caused by running shoes that are too small. However, they can also occur during long distance events such as long distance walking or a marathon, when there’s repeated pressure on one or more toes for a longer period of time.

To prevent this from happening, first you want to make sure you bought the correct size running shoe. Since your feet swell during exercise, your running shoes are going to be larger than your regular shoes. So if you are a size 7 (37-38), for example, you will likely be an 8 or a 8.5 (38-39 or 39) —this depends on the brand, how large your feet swell or even the weather conditions. While your shoe may not feel too small when you try it on, the extra room (a ‘thumbs nail length’) is needed to accommodate foot swelling or so-called ‘toe splay’. With each step, we push off of our forefoot, and our toes spread. If your foot is even a little too close to the edge of the shoe, mile after mile, this will only become tighter, resulting in some toe nail damage —black nails or even toenail loss.

Picking the right color
Stay away from reds —they will end up looking purple on the offending toe — or light colors that obviously don’t offer the coverage you need. Deep purples, dark greys, dark blues and black work best.

Here are some nail polish colors that we’re tested and approved by me last summer (YAY!):
OPI What’s The Hatter With You?
OPI Nein! Nein! Nein! Ok Fine!
OPI Lincoln Park After Dark
Essie Wicked
Essie Licorice
Essie After School Boy Blazer

What are your tips & tricks for happy runner feet?

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