Black, bruised toe nails can be a very unpleasant but are not uncommon for hill walkers and trail runners. Here are a few tips that should help minimise the risk of toes bruising.
- Make sure your footwear fits properly – Ill-fitting boots or shoes are one of the main causes of bruised toe nails. When walking or running downhill your toes are more likely to be pushed forward and the pressure around the toe area can cause bruising. If your boots are too tight around the toes you are more likely to experience bruising.Whilst making sure there is enough room at the front of the shoe for your toes, you do not want to end up buying footwear miles to big. Try the shoes or boots on a slope or down stairs before you buy, this will give you a good indication immediately if they will be comfortable.
- Lace up your footwear properly – This may sound obvious, but tying your laces too tightly or not tight enough can cause real discomfort. If your laces are done up too tightly the footwear can squash your toes. If they are too loose this will cause your foot to move around and slide too far forward causing your toe nails to hit the front of your shoe. Find out more about lacing techniques in our How to Lace Walking Boots guide.
- Wear decent socks with padding – Socks are just as important as your footwear is. When trying on footwear in a store, make sure you are trying them on with socks that you will be wearing for the best fit. Special hiking socks are available that are a little bit thicker with some extra padding on the toe which should provide you with that extra bit of protection. Some people prefer to wear a thinner liner sock and a slightly thicker outer sock which can also work well.
- Try insoles – If thicker socks aren’t for you, but your boots are still not fitting properly and causing your toe nails to bruise, than insoles are a good piece of kit to help your boots fit better.
- Cut your toe nails – The problem behind your bruised toes may be down to something as simple as your toe nails being too long! Making sure your toe nails are cut short and square shaped will help prevent stress on your toes.
If your boots fit and are laced correctly and you have cut your toes nails short but continue to have problems we recommend you see a specialist.