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What's a tongue pad and how do I use it?

What is a tongue pad and how is it used?

The secret weapon hidden under the counter of every good shoe store is an ample supply of tongue pads.  What's a tongue pad and why are they important?  Let's focus on one solution that tongue pads offer and that's protecting runners against nail injuries.

The tongue of the shoe is that little loose portion of the shoe immediately beneath the laces.  I think we all pull on our running shoes, pull up the tongue of the shoe and lace up, right?  OK, now you know what the tongue of the shoe is, a tongue pad is a felt or foam pad that is self-adherent and is placed on the under surface of the tongue of the shoe.  Most tongue pads are relativelyTongue pad thin, ranging from 1/8" to 3/16" in thickness.  So the first tip - don't be shy about wearing one, two or even more tongue pads to solve your problems.  They can easily be doubled in most shoes for a better fit.

So how does a tongue pad prevent toe nail injuries?  The secret is that the tongue pads will push the foot back into the heel of the shoe.  As your run progresses and your shoes might get a little loose, the tongue pad will hold the foot back preventing the nails from hitting the toe box.  Do you frequently bruise your nails on a run (runner's nail), a tongue pad is the solution.  Running trails?  As you descend a hill, the foot will piston forward in the shoe.  During mid-stance of gait while descending a hill, your body weight will force the foot to piston forward in the shoe.  The result is typically a nail injury and possible loss of the nail.  I think you understand the solution to the problem - the humble tongue pad will prevent those nail injuries.

Tongue pads are a simple tool - cheap and easy to use.  Use them to optimize shoe fit, prevent nail injuries, and even off-load a bump on the top of the foot (saddle bone deformity).  Tongue pads are an essential in every shoe store and runner's tool box.

Jeff

Dr. Jeffrey Oster
Jeffrey A. Oster, DPM

Medical Director
Myfootshop.com

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