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You can get into trouble with ill fitting shoes

Ill-fitting shoes can cause black toenails

Black or darkened toenails are essentially bruised nails and can result from a variety injuries or problems. Darkened nails may occur as a result of the toe hitting the end or the top of the shoe toe area. Sometimes, the bruise can lead to a fungal nail infection.

Treatment may include trimming the nail back and applying a topical anti-fungal medication. If the skin under the nail is ulcerated, a topical antibiotic ointment should be applied.

Diabetic patients should contact our office for evaluation if they experience any change in the color of toenails. The pressure causing the bruised nail may lead to a small sore under the toenail, which can lead to infection.

We’ve compiled a lit of helpful tips for buying the right show to avoid black toenails and other issues resulting in bad shoe fit for running, hiking or walking.

Your heel should fit snug, but not tight. Laced up (but not tied), you should be able to slide your feet out. Lacing your shoes up through the final eyelet minimizes slippage. There will be some heel movement, but it shouldn’t be uncomfortable. Any irritation you feel in the store will be amplified once you are out and about.

A shoe’s upper should feel snug and secure around your instep. If you feel pressure and tightness, you need more space. If an otherwise great shoe has hot spots or pressure under the laces, try some alternative lacing techniques before moving on to the next shoe.

Your foot should be able to move side-to-side in the shoe’s forefoot without crossing over the edge of the insole. You should be able to pinch a quarter inch of upper material along the widest part of your foot. If the shoe is too narrow, you’ll feel the base of your little toe sitting on the edge of the shoe last.

Feet swell and lengthen over a run, so make sure there’s a thumb’s width of space between your longest toe (which might not be the big toe) and the end of a shoe. A shoe fitter can measure this while you stand with your shoes laced up. Your toes should also wiggle freely up and down. Wiggle room protects against front-of-the-foot issues like black toenails.

Check the flex point before you put on the shoe. You can do this by holding the heel and pressing the tip of the shoe into the floor. The shoe should bend and crease along the same line your foot flexes. An improperly aligned flex point can lead to arch pain or plantar fasciitis. A lack of flexibility can lead to Achilles tendon or calf strain.

You need to pinpoint shoes that match your foot’s contours and movements. You can’t get a good feel by just standing. So, take your shoes for a quick jog, either on a store’s treadmill, or just down a hallway. Back off the amount of support if you feel your arch cramping. Your shoe should support your stride, not try to alter it.

Tight-fitting shoes lead to blisters and black toenails. Play the piano with your toes, meaning the fit should be roomy enough in the forefoot, but not sloppy.

Contact our offices Laurel Foot & Ankle Center or Northern Virginia Foot & Ankle Associates  and schedule an appointment today.
To learn more about Black toenails, go to Heel Pain Institute of America and Laurel Foot & Ankle Center or Northern Virginia Foot & Ankle Associates.


Francis J. Smith, D.P.M., A.B.F.A.S.
Board certified in Foot Surgery and Michael A. Klein, D.P.M. A.B.F.A.S.
Board certified in Foot Surgery​

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