How to Cut Toenails for Running

Cut Toenails For Running

When athletes prepare themselves for running, there is an essential component they might neglect—toenails. While one of the most important components of running involves a good pair of running shoes, however, an expensive pair won’t do you any good if your toenails are not looked after properly. Long toenails can rub against your other toes or your shoe and give you blue nails. Poorly cut toenails can cause ingrown nails or painful subungual hemorrhage. To ensure a smooth running regime, you need to make sure your toenails are cut properly.

In this guide, we will show you how to cut your toenails for running. Here are some of the factors to keep in mind:

1. Don’t cut your toenails too short

2. Don’t keep your toenails too long

3. Don’t cut your nails when wet

4. Go for a straight cut

5. File the nails to smooth down rough edges

6. Rub cuticle oil

7. Wear shoes that fit properly

If you already have a bruised or fungal toenail, make sure to go see a doctor so he can treat it medically to avoid any complications.

Cutting Your Toenails

Toenail problems are a common occurrence for runners, however, they can be easily avoided to prevent any further issues. Instead of staying in pain or skipping training, there are some steps you can take to cut the problem at the root!

1. Don’t cut your toenails too short

toenails too short

Cutting the toenails too short can be painful and cause ingrown toenails. A general rule of thumb is to trim only the top end of the nail (about 1-2 mm). Trimming them too short will cause the nail to grow back into the skin which can be painful. This can cause physical distress to your toes.

2. Don’t keep your toenails too long

toenails too long

On the flip side, avoid growing your toenails too long. Long nails tend to rub against other toenails and cause injury. They can also rub against your shoe and cause blue or black toenails. This is also known as subungual hematoma which means blood under the toenail. If you are running while you have long toenails, you can experience blue nails on the toes that are the longest and closest to your shoe — usually the big toe. Having long nails can also result in bleeding of your toes due to excessive rubbing against one another.

3. Don’t cut your nails when wet

Let Them Dry

It is not advised to cut nails when they are wet. This is because wet nails tend to tear or bend compared to dry nails. It is also hard to get an even cut on wet nails. While dry nails are harder to cut compared to wet nails, they will give you a smoother cut.

4. Go for a straight cut

cut toenails straight

There is a common misconception that the nails should be cut in an oval shape. The correct way to cut your toenails is by cutting them across a straight line. You do not need to match the shape of your toe but cutting straight across with a sharp pair of the cutter will work perfectly well. This technique will also prevent any ingrown toenails.

I tried the kit shown in the picture above and they worked really well. The problem I had was that my nails had always been cut with a curved edge nail cutter. After a few days, my naturally round nails cracked at the edge. 

I think it’s still a good idea to cut your nails straight, just remember it may take a while for your nails to adjust and your nails may crack at the edge. Time and continuing to cut with a straight edge nail cutter will help your nails finally start to adjust. 

Remember to file the sharp corners of the nail so it doesn’t dig into your socks. The rounded edge nail cutter is good for your fingernails, but try the straight edge to help make toenails prepared for running.

5. File the nails to smooth down rough edges

File toenails

Once you have cut your nails, it is time to take care of the rough edges. Rough nail edges can get stuck in socks or chafe against other nails to cause bruising. Take a good quality filer and rub it against the rough edges to make them smooth.

Gently move the nail filer in one direction across your toenail until the edges are even. Do not file too much as it can cause your nail to become too thin and susceptible to infection.

If you have fragile or thin nails, use a fine-grained filer as it will smooth the edges without damaging your nails.

6. Rub cuticle oil

Oil on Toenails

As part of your toenail care routine, consider adding oils to your overall regimen. Oils are rich in vitamins and antioxidants that are great to keep your nails healthy and shiny. Most cuticle oils contain jojoba oil, flaxseed oil, almond oil, and safflower oil. Cuticle oils are made from natural ingredients like honey, lactic acid from milk, and pomegranate.

Oils provide proper moisture levels for your skin and keep it hydrated. Rubbing cuticle oil on your toes after a good run or before going to bed will prevent your nails from getting brittle or dry.

Add a few drops of oil on a cotton ball and dab it on your toenails. You can also use a brush to paint the oil on your toes.

7. Wear shoes that fit properly

shoes that fit (1)

Wearing the right pair of shoes is essential for runners. Loose shoes can cause corns and calluses on your feet. These can be painful and difficult to get rid of.

In addition, you can also develop blisters, which appear as sacs of fluid on your skin. Loose shoes also make you susceptible to straining or spraining your ankle and give you tender Achilles tendon.

Tight-fitting shoes, on the other hand, can cause ingrown nails, blue nails, and painful toes. Wearing tight shoes for a long time can also cause toe deformity known as “bunion”. In addition, you can also develop corns and blisters and experience painful heels and balls — a condition known as metatarsalgia.

Here are some tips to find the right pair of shoes:

  • Measure both of your feet
  • Measure your feet during the afternoon as they are the largest at that time
  • Get a wide-toed or open-toed shoe
  • You should be able to wiggle your toes up and down freely inside your shoes
  • When trying out new shoes, wear the same socks you intend to wear with the pair of shoes
  • Walk around and feel the fit around your ankles, toes, and heels
  • Trust your comfort level


As a runner, you may tend to shift all your focus on getting your running game strong. However, giving some attention and time to your toenails is also important. A proper care routine for your toenails will help you avoid serious problems that can cost you your health, time, and money.

Never avoid any signs of physical distress even if they may seem small. Take necessary steps to take care of the issues and give your body time to heal.

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