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How to run without bleeding under your toes or losing any toenails!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hey RIF REVers,

Have you ever finished a run and either lost your toe nail or had your toenail go black or have blood collect under the nail? It’s not cool and it can hurt!

The term handed to the collection of blood under the nail is subungual haematoma (Haematoma = collection of blood) and it’s something runners tend to deal with either when running a lot, or following a long (distance) event. 

What can we do to prevent this, if anything at all? The answer is – there are a few things we can do:

1. Firstly, assess your shoes. Having shoes that are too tight (causing rubbing and trauma in the foot) or too loose, causing the foot to move around the shoe, can contribute to an increase in trauma on the toes which in-turn can onset this discomfort.

2. Following a run, the bleeding or haematoma can be treated slightly, or the pain can be reduced, by icing the damaged areas to maximise recovery.

3. A lot of this trauma is caused from a consistent impact (loading on the toes). Runners that exert a lot of pressure in their feet as they run are more prone to this trauma. To reduce this, it’s important to lengthen out of the hips to reduce the pressures on the lower body, to ensure contact with the ground is made below the hips with the lower-body relaxed; minimising the time in contact with the ground

4. Sock choices: some socks can cause more rubbing than others. The double-layered socks have been shown to reduce the rubbing and consequent trauma on the toes. For me personally, I do not wear any socks and that freedom and increased proprioception makes me more aware (better ground-feel ;)) and since reverting to no socks I have had no blisters or haematoma occur, except for the slightest amount in the corner of a single toe after the 100k Kokoda challenge.

5. Finally, a lot of people who get the bleeding under the toes are those who “skid” as they run. The “skidding” noise is caused in a few ways including – the knee bending forwards as contact is made, sinking in to the lower body, hard impact in to the ground resulting in a prolonged “support phase” with the ground. When running it’s important to not hyper-flex through the knee, to ensure contact with the ground is minimised and that you’re coming away from the ground as contact is made; abolishing the support phase!

Happy running!


Warning: This blog is intended as a starting point for runners to understand their body and begin to address weaknesses and tension that can lead to injury. It does not constitute advice and is not a treatment tool. If you have any health condition or injury whatsoever, check with your personal health care practitioner before attempting any strategy listed. Use at your own risk and stop if you experience any pain or discomfort.



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