Toe Drama: When nails turn noir

Toe Drama: When nails turn noir

What Is Toe Bang?

Toe bang, also known as “runner’s toenail” or “hiker’s toenail,” refers to the discomfort and bruising of toenails caused by repetitive impact during physical activities. Sustained downhill stints can be especially damaging. The visible result is a black toenail. 

While some consider this as a badge of honour, the downsides can be significant;

  • reduced physical performance, especially if you feel discomfort and adjust your normal gait which can lead to other issues,
  • reduced enjoyment,
  • extreme cases can result in toenail loss and risk of infection,
  • and finally they really don't look great!

Whether you’re hiking rugged trails or logging miles on the road, your toes deserve some attention. 

Common Causes

Footwear Matters:

  • Ill-fitting shoes is a prime culprit.
    • Tight shoes or those with cramped toe boxes can lead to toenail trauma. While due to the tight fit the toenail might not "bang" on the inside of the shoe, on the recent thesis reported in our January ArmaSkin News,  Friction Blisters of the Feet: A New Paradigm to Explain Causation”.  the toe bones will impact from within the toe, in this case onto the area under the nails.
    • Alternatively, shoes with plenty of extra toe box space in conjunction with loose lacing enables the foot to slip inside the shoe and "bang" on the front of the shoe. 
For both these cases, choose footwear that allows room for natural toe movement, some room for foot swelling and ensure secure lacing such as Surgeon's Knot and Heel lock lacing. Also, in the case of ArmaSkin wearers, having a cushioning outer sock will help.
Mechanical weaknesses:
  • Toe Positioning: Some runners lift their toes while running, causing chronic irritation against the shoe’s upper.  
  • Big-Toe Joint Instability: An unstable big-toe joint affects the other toes, leading to excessive gripping upon landing.
Addressing this would require assessment by a professional.
Toenail Care:
  • Toenails can grow irregularly exacerbating adverse impacts
  • Sharp toenail corners can catch on the sock textile resulting in drag of the nail.
Regularly, neatly trim your toenails to prevent long nails and eliminate any sharp corners.

    Treatment and Healing

    Natural Healing:
      • Bruised toenails usually heal within three to six months.
      • Be patient and let the nail grow out.

    Seek Professional Help:

      • If pain persists, consult a podiatrist.
      • They can drain fluid from under the nail if needed.
      • For chronic issues, consider a sports podiatrist.
      • Custom orthotics may address toe-lifting and gripping problems.

      Remember, whether you’re conquering trails or chasing personal records, happy toes make for happy adventures! 

      Feel free to share this article with fellow hikers and runners. If you have any specific comments or requests feel free to contact us.

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