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7 Things Soccer Players Do To Protect Their Toenails

7 Things Soccer Players Do To Protect Their Toenails

The dominant part of the body used for playing soccer is the leg and it is a common occurrence to lose toenails if you are an active soccer player. Amateur soccer players usually struggle with how to prevent this from happening.

The toenails are not a non-essential part of the body like many people think. They actually protect your toes from external impacts.

Toenails are made from keratin which is also present in fingernails, hair, and skin—and are usually not as tough as bones which are made from calcium.

Key Takeaways

  • A bloody toenail injury can be painful but is easily treated by a physician
  • Keeping the toenails clipped and clean is by far the best way of protecting the toenails
  • Products such as high-quality socks and toe protectors can help to protect the toenails

Numerous factors can be responsible for toenail injuries encountered on the soccer pitch, some of which don’t necessarily involve a collision with other players. Soccer players can lose their toenails from kicking the ball or kicking the ground while trying to kick the ball.

Proper foot care is mandatory for soccer players because their feet are their primary tool for playing the sport. Most soccer teams have podiatrists in their medical crew who examine the players for any leg injury.

For younger players, it is advisable for their parents or guardians to properly check their feet for any pain or injuries after every game—especially during bedtime. Early detection of foot injuries can go a long way in preventing such injuries from escalating.

As a soccer player, you mustn’t wait for your toenails to start changing color, cracking, or pulling out before taking proper care of them. The tips below should help you to prevent toenail injuries.

Soccer player are sitting down with the ball

Why should you care about protecting your toenails from injuries? The simple answer is that toenail injuries are sometimes painful and uncomfortable to play soccer with.

A toenail injury that isn’t appropriately attended to can result in severe injuries that might take a longer period to heal properly. Such injuries can keep players off the pitch for a long while.

Although soccer is a fun game to play, injuries are common, especially on the lower legs. Players often break their fingers when they crash to the floor and sometimes, they hurt their toes by kicking the hard floor while attempting to kick a soccer ball.

Sometimes, players trivialize toenail injuries and continue to play soccer without treating them mostly because they aren’t always painful. A bruised toenail is an injury that most soccer players have experienced at least once in their soccer career.

Many factors can cause a bruised toenail, but the most common are wearing undersized cleats and being stepped on. The visible sign of a bruised toenail is a dark blue and black discoloration on the nail which is an indication of a ruptured blood vessel.

The pain experienced from a bruised toenail usually subsides after 24 hours except it gets hurt again. A bruised toenail can be properly managed by a physician and can heal within a short period if the soccer player desists from playing soccer during the healing period.

Another common toenail defect that can be caused by playing soccer is ingrown toenails. Taking good care of your feet and trimming your nails can prevent this nail defect from ever developing.

The toenails aren’t difficult to take care of if you adhere to simple rules and keenly listen to advice. Below are some common practices soccer players use in protecting their toenails from damage.

Properly trim your toenails

It is common for soccer players to make trimming their toenails less of a priority, especially in the heat of the season. Even when they manage to trim their toenails, they do it so shabbily as if it’s not important.

Soccer players are usually advised to trim their toenails at least once every week. Toenails are more likely to get hurt when they are left to grow long without regular trimming.

When trimming, cut them straight across, keep them short, and use a nail file to smoothen them around the edges. Cutting your toenails properly will help prevent ingrown toenails and even nail infections.

Trimming toenails

It is better to use toenail clippers and not fingernail clippers or razor blades when trimming your toenails. Toenail clippers can cut your toenails with more ease and precision compared to razor blades and fingernail clippers.

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One easy way of protecting your toenails is by always keeping them clean. Wash your feet properly two to three times daily using mild soap and dry them with a clean towel.

A clean foot will always be free from fungal and bacterial infection, unlike a dirty and sweaty foot. You can apply antibiotic ointments to any observable cracks on your feet after washing and drying. This will help to prevent your feet and toenails from getting infected.

Wear the right soccer cleats

Using undersized or oversized soccer cleats on the pitch can also cause toenail injuries even without any external pressure like when another player steps on you.

Undersized cleats or cleats that aren’t properly broken into are usually painful and uncomfortable and may put more pressure on your toes. On the other hand, oversized shoes permit the toes to continue slamming on the front part of the cleat.

Also, it is very important to use soccer cleats on the terrain they were designed for. For example, using soft ground soccer cleats on a concrete floor will not only destroy the cleats but can also lead to injuries.

Some soccer players don’t pay attention to the nature of the surface they use their soccer cleats on. It’s even possible to find players using outdoor soccer cleats on indoor fields.

Such actions can cause injuries like toenail damage. The soles of soccer cleats are designed differently to suit different kinds of surfaces.

soccer cleats with crisscross lacing technique

Cleats that don’t have enough wiggle space (a half inch beyond the longest toe) are notorious for causing problems like black toenails, blisters, and ingrown toenails. Prolonged use of such cleats can even lead to hammertoes and bunions.

Your style of play and position on the pitch should also influence your choice of soccer cleats.  Different cleat models are often designed to suit the position and assigned task of players on the pitch.

Always make inquiries about the appropriate use of a pair of soccer cleats before purchasing them. If your cleats aren’t comfortable enough, don’t hesitate to return and exchange them for better-fitting pairs.

Use high-quality and clean soccer socks

The condition of your soccer socks matters a lot since they are in close contact with your toes and nails. Wearing sweaty, torn, and damp socks can create the perfect condition for bacteria and fungus to start breeding under your nail bed and getting them infected.

Moisture-wicking socks like cotton are perfect for soccer players. Wash your socks and dry them properly after every use. You can even take extra pairs to matches so you can swap them during halftime breaks.

Wearing double socks also increases cushioning and support to your feet. However, be mindful of wearing two pairs of thick socks on a cleat that is already too tight—it might compress your toes and crush your toenails.

Good soccer socks, aside from protecting the toenails, also provide optimal comfort to the feet when a player is running. Soccer socks also help in preventing blisters which are often caused by friction from wearing loose-fitting cleats.

Kid soccer player are training on the pitch

Nowadays, many players choose to use non-slip socks to prevent their feet from sliding forward which causes the toenails to collide with the soccer boots.

You can completely cut off the foot parts of your long soccer socks and put on non-slip socks in that area.

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Practice low-impact cardio

Playing soccer does a lot of pounding on your feet which makes it easier to get your toenails hurt. It is advisable to practice low-impact cardio like weightlifting, swimming, and cycling when not participating in soccer activities.

This will give your feet and toes the ability to recover from the strain of playing soccer while at the same time, keeping your heart rate up. If you are consistent with this practice, your chances of having toenails and feet injuries will be slimmer.


Tie your shoelace correctly

When you put on your well-snuggled soccer cleat, adjust your heel until it becomes firmly positioned at the back of your cleat. When this is done correctly, you will create a half-inch space in the cleat beyond your longest toe.

You can now snugly lace up your soccer cleat from the bottom to the top. While lacing, do it as casually as possible to avoid putting undue pressure on the top part of your feet.

If your soccer cleat is properly laced, it will keep your heel firmly held to the back of your cleat. This will prevent your foot from constantly sliding forward and slamming your toenails on the front of the cleat.

Man tie his shoelace for soccer game

Use soft gel toe protectors

Soccer players that are prone to recurring toenail injuries, often wear toenail protectors before putting on their socks. Toenail protectors are mostly made from silicone and are designed to be worn independently over each toe.

They serve as a cushion that prevents the toenails from constantly hitting against the front part of the cleats. They can also absorb some of the pressure that the toenails will feel when another player steps on your feet.

However, make sure that you don’t use them with soccer cleats that are already too tight or the effect will be counterproductive.

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Use non-slip insoles

If you are prone to foot problems, particularly around your toes or heels, then you should not rely on the insoles that came with your soccer cleats. Choosing a pair of non-slip insoles can prevent the sliding around of your feet in your cleats and avoid nasty toenail injuries or blisters around the heels.

Suitable non-slip insoles for soccer cleats are supposed to be lightweight, breathable, comfortable, and durable. Such insoles are well-cushioned to absorb shock and relief foot stress that might hurt your toenails.

Nevertheless, the use of non-slip insoles should never take the place of picking the right-fitting soccer cleats. If you wear soccer cleats that are significantly bigger than your feet, it is unlikely that non-slip insoles will offer any benefit.


To keep your toenails safe and free from injuries on the soccer pitch, you can also use extra cushioning like insoles and toe pads. Don’t take toenail injuries for granted because they can develop into other bigger injuries when they get infected.

Most soccer players tend to develop injuries on their toenails when they get stepped on. Playing more cautiously and avoiding messy tackles is also an important way to prevent toenail injuries.