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Toenail Soreness & Playing Basketball

author image Kay Ireland
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.
Toenail Soreness & Playing Basketball
Don't let basketball hurt your toes. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

Basketball requires quick stops and starts during the fast-paced game, requiring fancy footwork. Without the proper shoes, toenails are often a casualty of the game. To make matters worse, sore toenails could affect your game in the long run if you don't have them treated and address their cause quickly. By understanding why your toenails are sore, you can remedy the problem quickly to get back on your game as soon as possible.


When your toenails are subjected to excess pressure during the game, you might find that they take on a blackened appearance. Some other common symptoms include tenderness when touched. Even if your toenails haven't changed color, general tenderness and pain after a game isn't a good sign, especially if it bothers you while playing or doesn't subside quickly once you stop.


The most likely cause of your toenail pain when playing ball is poor shoe fit. When your shoes allow excess pressure to be placed on the toenails, you develop what is known as a subungual hematoma, or "black toe." This is the result of excess pressure being placed on the tip of the large toenail, resulting in the accumulation of blood under the toenail and a darkened appearance. Ingrown toenails are also to blame, especially if tight basketball shoes force your toenail to grow improperly and into the skin.


If you're being affected with a subungual hematoma, see a podiatrist. A podiatrist has the tools to drain the blood from the toenail to improve its appearance and to relieve the swelling that contributes to overall tenderness. If an ingrown toenail is your problem, a trip to a doctor or podiatrist is also merited. Ingrown toenails are treated by cutting away the portion of toenail growing into the side of the nail bed so a healthier nail can grow in its place.


Since shoe fit is typically the culprit for toenail pain during the game, it's vital that you purchase your shoes properly. Start by visiting an athletic store specializing in basketball shoes. Go at the end of the day, when your feet are naturally swollen. Select a basketball shoe that offers good side foot support for lateral movement, but ensure that your toes don't reach the edge of the shoe. Place your heel in the back of the shoe and select one with a half inch between your toe and the interior tip.

Before you play a game, keep your toenails properly groomed by clipping them so they don't go past the tip of your toe. When clipping, cut straight across to prevent ingrown toenails from affecting your game.

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