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black toe nail

Published on February 8th, 2018 | by Start Fitness


The Reasons Your Toe Nails Hurt from Running – Your running shoes aren’t right


You may have noticed that after a long run your toe nails feel sore and bruised. You may also think that this is normal and just an everyday stress from running. I can tell you now that your toe nails should not be sore after running, and if they are some changes need to be made.

The causes of sore toe nails

man running

The reasons for your toe nails hurting after a run is because they are being thrust forward into the tip of the toe box in your running shoe. This happens with every step you take and is worsened when going downhill. There are a few reasons as to why this is happening:

Your shoes are to small:

If your running shoes are to small this will most definitely contribute to toe nail pain. When running the feet swell taking up more room in the shoe. It is for this reason that we recommend going half a size to a size bigger when purchasing running shoes depending on the brand. Some running shoes are smaller fitting than others, so it is important to read their sizing information before purchasing them.

Your shoes are to big:

You could also be suffering from toe nail pain because your shoes are to big. If your feet are moving around to much in your shoes they can slide into the toe box causing trauma to the nail.

Your shoes aren’t tied properly:

Another reason for the toes slamming into the toe box is because of poorly tied running shoes. When running it is important to tie your shoes tight so that your feet don’t slide about.

The symptoms


There are a few tell tale signs that your toe nails are suffering from your running shoes. These include:

  • Tender toe nails when pressed
  • Throbbing toe nails without touching them
  • Black toe nails
  • Weeping toe nails
  • Blisters
  • Foot numbness

Checking to see if your running shoes are the problem

brooks running shoes

There are many ways to check if your shoes are the cause of your sore toe nails. These include:

  • Checking the location of your big toe in the shoe. If the toe is pushed right up against the front of the shoe they are to small.
  • Removing the insert of your shoe and standing on it. If any of your toes hang over the end of the insert your shoes are to small.
  • Having your feet properly measured in our shop. We will be able to tell you the size shoe you need and perform a gait analysis to ensure that you have correct shoes for your pronation type. More on pronation here.

Treating your sore toe nails

It is important to make sure that give your toe nails time to heal if they have suffered trauma from running. Continuing to run in your ill fitted trainers will only make the problem worse. Allow your toe nails a few days to recover or until they are no longer tender.

If you find that your toes are becoming sorer, and redness occurs you may have an infection. Consult your doctor if this happens as treatment may be needed.

Preventing sore toe nails

man thinking

To prevent sore nails from occurring you can do the following:

  • Ensure that your laces are tided properly.
  • Make sure that your heel stays in the heel cup to prevent your feet from sliding forward.
  • Wear properly fitted running shoes.
  • Wear a thicker running sock.

Written By Start Fitness