Runner's toe is no fun. It's painful, ugly, and can lead to much more serious problems down the road if not promptly attended to. Clinically known as a subungual hematoma, it results from repeated trauma to the toe that causes separation of the nail from the nail bed, pooling of blood, and characteristic discoloration. People with Morton's toe are especially vulnerable to this kind of injury. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to stop or treat this unfortunate side effect of distance running. Here are 5 steps to reducing runner's toe:
1. FIT THAT WONT QUIT
Step one is easy enough: make sure your shoes fit properly! There should be about a thumbnail of length between the longest toe and the front of the shoe. Measure late in the day as feet tend to swell during the day and you want to make sure you're recording the maximum value.
2. TIGHTEN UP--BUT NOT TOO MUCH
Once you've done that, lace 'em up tight to prevent your foot from sliding and causing runners toe. This video will show you how to lace your trainers up for a no-slip grip. Make sure you're cradling your feet, not suffocating them!
3. CUSHION THE FORCE
Make sure that you have socks with padding in the toe to absorb the shock of impact on each footfall. Unfettered socks have extra thick wicking material built into the toe to handle the toughest terrain and keep your little piggies safe and dry!
Keeping your toenails trimmed and free of ingrowth is an absolute must, but don't get too eager to sand down your callouses. Callouses underneath the first phalanx can help your foot strike more evenly and diffuse pressure upon impact. Moisturizers like eucerin can help with severe dryness and fissures if necessary.
5. FITTED CAP
If you've got a big race coming up, or you already have a nail that's bothering you, pick up a set of toe caps like these ones from Pro-Tec. They slide right over the big toe and help ease the pressure and friction of heavy footfalls. Toe caps can also help manage a current runner's toe by compressing the digit and shielding it from bacteria and wetness. In your downtime consider using toe stretchers to stretch out your toes and provide relief from lingering pain or bunions, and to prevent warping.
With this arsenal of injury prevention and treatment tools, you'll be ready to sock it to 'em at your next race!
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