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Older Yet Faster Publications Pty Ltd

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Articles about technique

Bruised toenails - and blisters or calluses

By Keith Bateman and Heidi Jones

This is an easy problem to solve. The direct cause is of course your toes pressing against the end of your shoes. However, many people seem to miss the answer to WHY it is happening.

Are your shoes too small with your toes constantly pressing on the end of the shoe? No

This seems unlikely since you would probably be so uncomfortable all the time that you would buy bigger shoes. There has to be some sort of impact that is causing the damage and for this the foot must move inside the shoe.

Perhaps getting bigger shoes is the answer? No

Larger size shoes or thinner socks, and/or tying the laces tighter might help to alleviate the direct problem of the toe bruising. But this is not addressing the underlying problem and if you over-tighten your shoe laces you could easily end up with pain on the top of your foot.

What if I take my shoes off? (You'll get a surprise)

Taking your shoes off will probably be a revelation to you and it will certainly stop you getting bruised toes. It will strengthen weak feet and calf muscles and improve your technique. Many people have taken to barefoot running to cure this and knee, hip and back injuries and it is a great training aid but most of us want to wear shoes.

So what's the underlying problem?

The only way this toe damage can happen is if the foot slides forward in the shoe while landing. In other words, you are leaning back and pushing against your direction of travel. Every time you land your toes press on the front of the shoe and every time you take of your foot slides a little back again (This is also how calluses and blisters form - friction). So this is an obvious over-striding injury. We know this is right as we fix it all the time for clients and patients.

It is a technique problem

This is a basic technique problem, made worse by wearing soft, thick shoes with a drop or 'support'. It will result in many other over-striding injuries (listed in Chapter 1 and discussed in Chapter 2) so we suggest that you follow our 'OYF Rule #6' which says 'fix the problem, not the symptom'.

The solution is easy

You are over-striding, braking on landing, absorbing the extra force that produces (some through your toes) and then you are pushing off hard to regain the speed lost upon landing. You have a hybrid walking/running action where you are advancing your legs forward along the ground instead of flying over the ground to get your long stride length.

Knowing what is happening is the first step in fixing it and Lessons 1, 2 and 3 will show you how to achieve a balanced landing. This is where, at constant speed, you land near-vertically-aligned with minimal braking and maximum 'bounce' off the ground. This comes from the natural elasticity the feet and legs allow when landing in that position and is what, together with your existing speed, gives you that long, effortless stride length (and speed). Together with a change to sensible shoes this will stop the problem (see Chapter 14; chunky shoes increase the over-stride and the drop puts more pressure towards the toes). Your technique change will of course require time to be fully introduced due to the changes in muscle use (See Chapter 12: Managing your transition) but it will be a life-long change!

One such reader was David Blackman - read his story via 'Reader Experiences' in the menu on the left.

All atricles

What not to try to change technique


The cure for weak glutes


What foot-strike is best?


How can I run faster?


Transitioning to faster running age 50


Why do I trip over when I run?


Over-striding: Fixing it is not about cadence


Bruised toenails - and blisters or calluses


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