Dealing With Minor Foot Issues

We runners are notorious for having ugly feet.  The stereotype is real for a reason.  Sometimes even getting a basic pedicure can be quite the embarrassment.

There are a few things you can do to ward off minor issues like blisters and bruised/lost toe nails:


Get yourself fitted for the appropriate shoe for you.  Everyone’s feet are different and our running styles are unique too.  From narrow to wide feet, flat or high arches, to supinating or pronating; each of these are factors that make a customized shoe choice very important.

You can go into almost any local running store and they will be happy to find the right fit for you.  Shoes not only vary in size, but also in how they help work through your gait, and assist with minor variances in how you run.  Your fitting will also take into consideration how many miles you typically put in, the terrain you will be running on, and other variables.

When we have a shoe that is too big or too wide, our feet can move ever so slightly and cause blisters or pound on our toe nails.  If you consider how much time you spend in your shoes, you will quickly see how important it is to have the appropriate pair.

You might recall that two years ago I switched to a neutral from a stabilizing shoe.  The end result was a rough case of Achilles tendinitis that lasted months.  It wasn’t pretty and I have since learned that cute shoes are not an important factor in the decision making process.

Skip the cotton socks.  100% cotton can be a recipe for disaster.  Cotton doesn’t wick, and when you sweat, the moisture gets locked in there.  The end results is an environment for blisters to pop up.

Keeping your feet dry is the first step to avoiding blisters in the first place.  Find a sock made with sweat wicking material.  This doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune on socks.  I get my favorites from Costco for about $10 for 6 pairs.

Keep your shoes dry in between workouts.  As mentioned above, a moist environment is grounds for major foot pain.  If you sweat a lot or run in the rain, make sure you air those shoes out before your next run.  Take the insert out and leave your shoes in a cool and dry area.  You can also ball up some old newspaper and stuff it inside.  This will help pull any excess moisture out.

Side note:  This will also help avoid getting majorly funky smelling shoes.  Although this is likely inevitable if you run hundreds of miles in your shoes, it can help keep them fresh as long as possible.


Trim those toes!  A quick weekly trim of the nails will help avoid pounding your toes against the front of your shoes, which often causes bruised and blackened nails.  Take care of your feet and trim the nails as short as you possibly can.

Sometimes despite every best effort, blisters and ugly toes just happen.  There isn’t always anything you can do to avoid these minor pitfalls.  I’ve gone out for a run and come back to find the most random of blisters.  During my last marathon training session, I managed to lose 3 toe nails (although I blame the hot and humid course at Grandma’s Marathon for at least 2 of those!).

The good news is that you can continue to run through both of these issues.  It is up to you whether you hold onto that blister or not.  I am not a doctor or medical professional and I cannot give you advice on that matter.  But I will suggest that regardless of how you handle your blister, that you keep it clean and sterilized.  A little peroxide, a good air dry, followed by a bandaid will have you back out on the road.

As for missing toe nails.  They can certainly hurt during the bruising process.  The good news is that once the nail is ready to go, it looks far worse than it actually is.  At that point, you will find that it has healed up underneath and ready to go.

Bottom line is, take care of your feet.  Find proper gear and keep them clean and healthy.

How do you deal with these common issues?

14 thoughts on “Dealing With Minor Foot Issues

  1. I’ve just starting using a hard tennis ball (I’d like to have a golf ball) under my foot. With my ankle injury, the bottom of my foot is super tight so rolling my foot over the tennis ball is releasing some of that. Great tips!

  2. Great tips! Getting the right shoes is absolutely critical – when I started running higher volumes I finally spending more money on shoes, and loved the low drop lightweights … and so of course had to try zero drops and minimals. Neither really worked for me – the New Balance Minimus didn’t last very long for me, and Saucony Kinvara I just didn’t like the zero drop compared to 4mm. But it was the Merrell Vapor Glove – zero drop, 2mm cushion – that was my final ‘enough’ wake-up call that I needed more shoe. So I stick with the Saucony Kinvara and Nike Free 3.0 Flyknit – both minimal-ish, light, low drop … but with some cushion!

    Socks I had to laugh – we didn’t have the great tech fabrics when I started running, so my socks were a nightmare! Now I have a wonderful assortment of compression socks and no-shows, all tech fabrics. And like you I don’t pay a fortune – I found our local TJ Maxx has a good supply of these Saucony socks I run with.

    In terms of keeping dry, shoe rotation works well for me with that!

    And finally – I am lucky that my toenails bug me before they become an issue! But when they do, I have to trim immediately – leaned THAT the hard way!

    • All great advice from experience. Isn’t it great that you can find socks at places like TJ Maxx and Costco? I have actually continued to upgrade my shoes in the past few years and sadly find that I prefer some of the pricier options that Asics offers. But, for me it is absolutely worth it and I just cringe and swipe the card!

  3. Oxygenate your tootsies! If you have minor bruising of the nails (where it looks like it could fall off later or not), letting your toes and toenails breathe does a lot to keep the toenail on or at least longer. If there’s severe bruising, it’s a lost cause.

    Luckily I have a private office at work, so I kick off my shoes and have bare feet for most of the day.

    • Excellent recommendation. We do tend to stuff our feet in shoes all day. I’m with you in that I am mostly lucky enough to do this….minus when I stuff them in ice skates, then it’s a double doozy!

  4. I just wrote a post about this! It was mainly about the whole blister/toenail/rough skin kinda thing, but i’ve also got one in the pipeline about the more muscular/skeletal side of things. My top tip is to keep your feet from getting too calloused, as that can alter your running gait and cause not fun issues. Also as a treat to myself, I get the odd pedicure when I’m not actively in training for a goal race. The pedicure ladies are super judgy about my gross, gross feet but it helps to keep things relatively healthy and/or not disgusting.

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