Ingrown Toenail Treatment for Runners & Top 3 Running Shoe Recommendations

Ingrown toenail treatment and comprehensively preventative podiatric care are essential for runners. With the right running shoes (read on for recommendations from our lead podiatrist!), techniques, and maintenance, you can reduce your chances of getting an ingrown toenail and maintain optimum foot health.
ingrown toenail treatment for runners

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Read more below to find out what footwear recommendations our lead sports podiatrist Tim Maiden recommends and ways to prevent the condition to keep you pacing forward without pain.

Running places a lot of pressure on your feet and generates moisture in your shoe. These two conditions make it more likely for runners with ingrown toenails to experience discomfort. A toenail can become infected if left untreated, leading to more complicated health problems.

The medical term for ingrown toenails is onychocryptosis. It is an unpleasant condition in which the nail grows incorrectly, cutting into one or both sides of the nail bed. The problem is more common in shoe-wearing groups, particularly during activities like running, kicking, or jumping involving high-foot impact.

How Can You Avoid Developing Ingrown Toenails as a Runner?

The most common causes of ingrown toenails for runners are ill-fitting running shoes that are too tight on the toe and the improper clipping of toenails. 

Ingrown toenails are also more prevalent in young males who run regularly and women who wear high heels [1]. These activities create similar microtraumas in the foot area, with the toe absorbing some of the impact with each step. In addition, any repetitive pressure on the toe, like running, increases the chances of an ingrown toenail.

best running shoes for ingrown toenails
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The following steps can either help you with your existing ingrown toenail or reduce your chances of getting one: 

  • Wear Properly Fitted Running Shoes Make sure there is plenty of width in the toe box of your running shoe to prevent undue pressure on your big toe. Also, ensure your socks are properly fitted and do not constrict your toes.
  • Keep Your Feet Moisture-Free Bacteria thrive in dark, moist environments like the shoe. If you have an ingrown toenail, you want to air your feet throughout the day, always wear clean socks, and keep your shoes dry. 
  • Cutting Your Toenails Properly Jagged edges or cutting the nail too deep can lead to the nail digging into the flesh and causing an ingrown toenail. Trimming your toenails correctly using sharp nail clippers and filing them into a rounded shape can help prevent this from happening. If you are concerned, you can visit The Foot Practice for a medical pedicure in Singapore.
  • Infections If you have an ingrown toenail, you need to keep an eye on it to ensure it is not getting infected. Signs of infection include severe discomfort, the spread of skin inflammation, or pus surrounding the area where the nail pierces the skin. It is best to seek medical attention if you think your ingrown toenail is infected before the condition can develop into something more severe.
  • Managing Chronic Illnesses Chronic illnesses like diabetes can make ingrown toenails more dangerous. An infection resulting from an ingrown toenail can lead to complications, especially in diabetic runners. Managing chronic diseases can help prevent ingrown toenails from developing into worse conditions. 

Best Running Shoes for Ingrown Toenails 

Perhaps the most critical way to prevent ingrown toenails is to ensure you wear the right shoes. If your shoes are too tight, they can force your toes together, placing undue pressure on the toenails. This is especially problematic if you are a long-distance runner or spend most of the day on your feet. 

best runners ingrown toenail shoes Altra
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Continuous misaligned pressure due to improper footwear can lead to ingrown toenails and other conditions such as corns and calluses. To prevent this, you want to get shoes with a wide toe box so that your toes are not compressed together within the shoe.

As mentioned, infections grow in damp and dark areas. So, beyond a wide-toe box, you also want a shoe made from breathable materials beyond a wide toe box. Spend time barefoot, giving your feet time to air. Make sure your shoes dry completely to lower your chances of infection. 

In short, your new pair of shoes should have a wide-toe box and be made of breathable fabrics. Here is a recommendation from our specialist sports podiatrist – a runner himself! – at The Foot Practice for a good shoe for runners with ingrown toenails: 

  • Vivobarefoot footwear is designed to help you feel like you’re running virtually barefoot to extend the foot’s natural strength and movement to allow you to feel the ground beneath.
  • Altra Running Shoes’ experimental shoe alterations, envisioned by athletes for athletes, let you run naturally through a Zero Drop™ platform and FootShape™ toe box shoe design.
  • Xero Shoes creates addictively comfortable shoes to give runners that natural barefoot movement feeling with just-enough protection built with the “first-foot” design for performance.
best runners ingrown toenail shoes Xero
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What these shoes have in common is that they have spacious toe boxes but may have very low heel drops which encourage a midfoot or forefoot strike, so it may take a bit to get used to these shoes. 

If you’re running with an ingrown toenail, it’s essential to be aware of other potential problems with your feet. Many of these problems are preventable if you take the necessary precautions and care for your feet properly. 

At The Foot Practice, our sports podiatrists know that runners put a lot of stress on their feet. We offer therapies for ingrown toenail treatment and other foot care services to protect you from conditions like infection and injuries. 

If you’re looking for treatment for an ingrown toenail in Singapore, contact us to learn more about our skin and nail care services.



Pico, Ana Pérez & Verjano, Elisabeth & Mayordomo, Raquel. (2017). Relation Between Nail Consistency and Incidence of Ingrown Toenails in Young Male Runners. Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association. 107. 137-143. 10.7547/15-121.

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