Here in the greater Sacramento area, there is a vibrant running community. This particular physical activity is a great exercise, one that can help lower blood pressure, shed pounds, improve resting heartrate, and even relieve stress. Of course, as with any form of exercise, there is also a certain degree of injury risk that accompanies running.


The good news with most running injuries is that they can be relieved with conservative treatment methods. Sure, sometimes injuries that are more severe do require surgery, but this tends to be less commonly seen. One specific area of the foot that is susceptible to running injuries is the toenails.

Toenails can (and do!) cause troubles for non-runners. Some of the specific problems include:

  • Black toenails. A common toenail issue for runners is nails that have become darkened. This is frequently referred to as “black toenails,” but the technical term is subungual hematoma. To put it into English, that means the surface underneath the nail has either bruised or started bleeding from the physical trauma of repeatedly striking the front/top of the running shoe. In the case of blood that has started to pool, there might be pain or discomfort (on account of the pressure). Fortunately, we can help by draining the area for you.

  • Ingrown toenails. Generally speaking, most ingrown toenails happen as the result of inherited nail structure. Another potential source of this condition is wearing running shoes that are too tight in the front. This squashes the toes together and can potentially cause nails to become ingrown. Remember, when you choose your running shoes—or any footwear, really—pick models that have enough room in the front so you can wiggle your toes.

  • Toenail fungus. Whereas you won’t likely pick up the fungus responsible for causing discolored, distorted toenails out during your run, microorganisms thrive in warm, damp environments. If you think about it, that could very well describe a sweaty foot. Your best bet to prevent a stubborn fungal toenail infection is to take measures to keep your feet dry as much as possible. Choose shoes that are breathable and socks that wick moisture away for optimal results.

If you are a runner who has developed a problem in the toenails—or in a foot or ankle!—contact McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group. We can answer questions about the condition, provide expert diagnosis, and create a treatment plan to resolve it for you in a timely manner. You can connect with our Carmichael, CA office by filling out the online form found here on our website or simply give us a call at (916) 961-3434 and one of our staff members will be glad to assist you!

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