Toenail removal is not for the faint of heart
October 21, 2009 10:47 AM   Subscribe

Getting serious about a sport can mean doing the previously unthinkable. Swimmers shave their bodies sleek. Cyclists take blood-boosters. And ultramarathoners have their battered toenails surgically removed — for good. Want pictures? (I can't imagine why you would, but still...) Here's one runner's surgery and recovery photos. [NSFWeakStomachs]
posted by dersins (68 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Not going to click. Not going to click ... well, that recovery picture isn't so bad. What about the surgery?

Ahhh! Owie owie owie! No!

this is what Metafilter comments sounded like in the days of radio
posted by zippy at 10:51 AM on October 21, 2009

“It looks like he has a bunch of bald-headed little men at the end of his feet”
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 10:53 AM on October 21, 2009

I once had a horrible ingrown toenail that was resisting all my home efforts. I broke down and saw a doctor at a small, crowded clinic.

He examined me, said he would take care of it, and left the room.

The walls were thin, and I could hear him telling his nurse his plan of action for three patients.

"In Room 1, this woman has jargon-jargon-technical-jargon, and we're going to jargon-jargon-technical-jargon so she doesn't suffer jargon-technical-bigword."
"Got it."
"In Room 2, we've got a tech-tech-jargon-bigwords-bigwords, so we'll need a prescription for FancyDrugNamevia."
"And in Room 3 ... well ... well, I'm just gonna rip this guy's toenail out."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:56 AM on October 21, 2009 [22 favorites]

You'd think that having your body surgically modified to increase your performance (because now you have less toe pain) would exclude you from the sport.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:57 AM on October 21, 2009

I coulda sworn we had this post before ... Didn't someone make a necklace out of his toenails ... ?
posted by mrgrimm at 10:58 AM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Soak the toe in a bath of warm salt water for 20 minutes. Then use the toenail clippers to work out the ingrown piece, clip and heavily medicate with triple anti-biotic ointment!
posted by intrigued at 10:59 AM on October 21, 2009

You'd think that having your body surgically modified to increase your performance (because now you have less toe pain) would exclude you from the sport.

That'd be like saying athletes can't have Lasik surgery ... or take steroids ... wait, what?
posted by mrgrimm at 10:59 AM on October 21, 2009

One of my thumb nails cracked off in an accident when I was a kid, and the gallery showing her surgery gave me flashbacks.
posted by muddgirl at 11:01 AM on October 21, 2009

Well, um, so, um.


Why do we have toenails? I mean, they serve a purpose, right? What's the trade off here?
posted by kbanas at 11:03 AM on October 21, 2009

^I coulda sworn we had this post before ... Didn't someone make a necklace out of his toenails ... ?

What the Christ?
posted by molecicco at 11:05 AM on October 21, 2009

The NFL player Ronnie Lott had the tip of his left pinky finger removed, rather than undergo any rehab or reconstruction. But, contrary to legend, it was one of those "fuck it" cases where surgery just wasn't going to help anyway.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:05 AM on October 21, 2009

Why do we have toenails? I mean, they serve a purpose, right?

posted by droob at 11:06 AM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

As a guy who has run marathons, and loves nothing more than a good, solid 12-mile run after work, let me just say fFFFFFFFFFFFFffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff
posted by Damn That Television at 11:07 AM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

As a older guy, my toe nails thicken and I can not trim them as once I used to. I go to a podiatrist for this. He told me I have nail fungus and that removing the nails would take care of that problem for good. Pain? Nah, he said.It is quick , easy, and heals rapidly. Says he would do two each visit and I would be able to drive home etc once done in his office. So I am not sure how this would differ then for the ultra maranthoners.
posted by Postroad at 11:08 AM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

I can't help but wonder whether it is a good or a bad thing for Naglfar's construction. I'd like to know before I am led to do something drastic (and painful) in the name of duty.
posted by Fruny at 11:08 AM on October 21, 2009

Having a portion of your nail removed, or the whole nail, is not really that bad. I had to get portions of the nails on both big toes removed after my toes were, ah, crushed an eensy bit. I found the little injections of painkiller to be more annoying than the actual burning off with swabs near-dripping with acid. I know, because the painkiller wore off in the middle of the procedure, as it so often does. I watched, it wasn't terribly gruesome. And the recovery is pretty fast. A few days with bandages wrapped around your toes, then you soak the scabbandages until they are soft and they come right off. No muss, no fuss. As surgical procedures go, I thought it was a cakewalk. Okay, a cakewalk where I left little bloody toeprints along the way, but still ... looks like strawberry frosting from a distance!

I think ultramarathoners are probably doing worse, less obvious things to their bodies anyway. Bet their bladders are hanging by a thread from jouncing about.
posted by adipocere at 11:09 AM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

I once had my big toenail die and turn black. After a couple weeks, I decided to bite the bullet and rip the whole thing off my toe. I braced myself, tore the black nail off - and found a nice new one had already grown in underneath.

Did not expect I'd ever be sharing that story.
posted by davebush at 11:14 AM on October 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

And I ran, I ran so far away

Gotta get away
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:14 AM on October 21, 2009

You know, if you toenail is ingrown and has to be removed, or is so battered that it falls off, it's very little effort to swab some phenol onto the root and prevent it growing back. If it's likely to grow back badly or just fall off again anyway it probably makes sense to do so - it's not like toenails actually do anything.
posted by Artw at 11:15 AM on October 21, 2009

I would imagine that they either just step aside to pee, or piss themselves while running. I know that distance cyclists do the latter in the tour.
posted by BobbyDigital at 11:16 AM on October 21, 2009

Back in my boozy first year at university, I opened a heavy steel bathroom residence door over my foot and ripped the big toe nail almost entirely off. It was just sort of dangling by a thread at the base with blood squirting out. Thanks to the magic of alcohol I felt nothing, but while I was waiting to go to the hospital, I started to sober up. Excruciating doesn't really begin to cover it. At the hospital, they ripped off the nail, bandaged me up, and told me I'd have to soak my foot 5 times a day in a salt water bath. I managed about twice a day, and was always too impatient to let my toe dry, so I'd wrap it wet and the bandage would gum to my toe. I once thought "well, like a band-aid I should just rip all at once and get it over with". Ha ha. You can imagine how great that worked out.

And that's why I wore sandals until December that year. People who would do this on purpose are ka-RAY-zee. No, you're welcome, I know it's a really pleasant and soothing story.
posted by Go Banana at 11:17 AM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Davebush - the same thing happened to one of my smaller toes. I had a big old cracked nail, and when I ripped it away there was a brand new nail underneath.
posted by muddgirl at 11:17 AM on October 21, 2009

If it's likely to grow back badly or just fall off again anyway it probably makes sense to do so - it's not like toenails actually do anything.

Hannibal Lecter said it first.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:19 AM on October 21, 2009

I've killed my big toenails a few times, once skiing and at least one other time playing ultimate Frisbee. They fall off eventually and there's half of a fresh new nail underneath that will grow out in a few months.
posted by octothorpe at 11:19 AM on October 21, 2009

Once, I slammed a car door shut really hard. I was quite surprised when it bounced back instead of settling in its closed position. This shook up my faith in the laws of physics quite a bit but luckily enough it was fully restored again almost instantly when I discovered a perfectly valid explanation for the door's unusual behavior. You see, my left thumb had been located between the door and its frame at the time thus preventing the door from snapping into its lock. However my relief and joy in discovering that standard reality hadn't been disrupted completely faded just about as quickly as my thumb gained in rich and varied hues of all the colors of the rainbow. Shortly thereafter I began to experience what can only be described as pain. A few hours after that my nail came off. Completely.

All in all it was a rather unpleasant experience. This reminded me of that. Thanks Metafilter!
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:22 AM on October 21, 2009 [3 favorites]

I wonder why so few of her photos are in focus...
posted by A189Nut at 11:23 AM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Remember how your mom used to tell you that if you kept making a face like that, it would freeze that way? The contortions my body is going through right now from even THINKING of clicking on any of those links: will it freeze like that?
posted by maudlin at 11:25 AM on October 21, 2009

As a older guy, my toe nails thicken and I can not trim them as once I used to. [...] He told me I have nail fungus

Bath your feet in vinegar regularly. Who knew such a treatment could be controversial...
posted by Chuckles at 11:25 AM on October 21, 2009

Actually, they make pills for nail fungus now, supposedly they work pretty well.
posted by delmoi at 11:28 AM on October 21, 2009

Soak the toe in a bath of warm salt water for 20 minutes. Then use the toenail clippers to work out the ingrown piece

During college I had ingrown toenails on both big toes. They had progressed to such a point that, due to having no insurance coupled with a highly evolved case of male-pattern ignore-the-problem syndrome, that the weight of a sheet would just about make me cry. I tried everything, including the soak your feet and snip method. This made me scream. Out loud. Repeatedly.

I guess the moral of the story is, doctors can inject you with numbing agent while your head is tilted back and you stare at ugly wallpaper and listen to muzak. They have special clippers that look like some kind of medieval torture device. In retrospect, it shouldn't have been as pleasant as it was. The sensation of having those slabs of misery slipped out of my toes was, however, possibly the best thing I've ever felt. If I ever have to go through the ordeal again, though, this article has given me something to consider.
posted by empyrean at 11:29 AM on October 21, 2009

Small beer. The biggest body change people willingly have been going through to boost their sporting ability, was getting pregnant, and having an abortion after the championships. This is alleged to have been a routine procedure in the former Eastern bloc. Often added with the words: those fetuses would have had gross deformities because of all the drugs taking anyway, so it is good they never developed any further.
posted by ijsbrand at 11:30 AM on October 21, 2009

ijsbrand: what was the benefit of getting pregnant?
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 11:33 AM on October 21, 2009

When I was mainly a middle-distance track runner and wore spikes, no socks three times a week on the track the state of my toes was horrendous - the middle toenails would go through a consistent cycle of turning black, falling off, and growing in again as mangled little stubs before then falling off. Normally I have big, pristine toenails normally, too - not little useless stubs. I thought I'd done permanent damage until I got mono when I was 25 and spent 6 months not doing much but jogging every other day.

I had pristine, callous-free feet with sparkly toenails during that period. I'd take my socks off and look from time to time out of sheer amazement, as the previous 7 years they'd been like Bosnia in flip flops. Small children would run away. They came back just fine.

These days I've smartened up and wear a half size up, thin socks at all times and not a whole lot of track time except indoors in the winter where I wear flats instead of spikes. They're still pretty ugly.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:37 AM on October 21, 2009

He told me I have nail fungus...

Dude, you're being sold a bill of goods.

You need oral Sporanox or Lamisil, it's expensive as all get-back, but a couple of courses of it will knock the fungus right out of you!

Sure, you have to replace all of your shoes, and burn your socks, and clean your carpets (or move), but you can be fungus free and keep your pedicure.

Also, if you have any other fungus lingering in you, (such as...I don't know...Valley Fever...then that too will be cured.

Just a second, unsolicited opinion.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:38 AM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

A few years ago, a doctor at a walk-in clinic told me that the yellowish nails on my big toes meant that I had fungus, and he wrote me a prescription for Lamisil. I walked across the street to ask the friendly local pharmacist about it and found out that not only was it ridiculously expensive, but that I really should get a liver function test before taking it, given the rare but serious effects on the liver reported in the literature. I skipped filling the prescription.

Two days later, I was seeing my podiatrist to get new orthotics and mentioned my nasty toenails, but he just gave me a look. Then he picked up his little whirring dremel-like tool and buffed the yellow cast off my big toenails. Apparently they had discoloured from rubbing against my shoes and I had no fungus. Best damn pair of orthotics I ever bought.

And for those insufficiently squicked so far: a classic Lamisil commercial.
posted by maudlin at 11:40 AM on October 21, 2009

Lamisil doesn't always work esp. for really bad cases. After a while it just makes more sense to remove the nail and start over. Also your insurance might be more willing to pay for surgery than drugs.

Just to be clear this isn't performance enhancement - not having toenails doesn't make you run faster. Rather, your feet take such a beating that the toenails are in a constant state of getting injured, to the point where it's less painful to rip them the rest of the way off. Having them permanently taken off is just a way of avoiding further pain and injury. I guess it's like a cyclist (or football player, soccer player, runner, swimmer...) getting laser hair removal so he doesn't have to shave anymore.
posted by drmarcj at 11:50 AM on October 21, 2009

On my birthday in May I accidentally rammed a drill with a phillips head cot attached deep into the nailbed of my left thumb. About 3/4 of the nail turned black and blue immediately. The build up of pressure from bleeding behind the nail was terrible. It was extremely painful but not nearly as painful as when I snapped my right thumbnail in half and ripped it nearly off with a dryer door a couple years ago. Now THAT was painful. So I didn't think much of it and kept on drilling. I thought all was well until the a month later when the blackened 3/4 of the nail became unattached from the nail bed. If the whole thing had fallen off it would have been much better but it was that last little bit that made it awful. Every time I caught the unattached nail on something it made the attached part sing in pain. Loudly.

Only now, for about a week now, is my nail back to normal....kind of. It's still wonky but the fact that I can look down and see an actual fingernail there instead of what's *behind* a fingernail (spoiler: it's gross) is fantastic. I no longer take a single finger or toenail for granted. And I'm more than a little amazed by the healing power of the human body.
posted by hecho de la basura at 11:50 AM on October 21, 2009

I had the ingrown toenail issue, but it had ended up no longer hurting, despite (squick moment!) a soft part at the front of my food that sometimes filled with pus and disgorged a small piece of nail.

I went to the podiatrist for an Unrelated Issue (bursitis in the ankle) and he looked at that toe and said, "You and me, we're going to see each other a lot over the next two months."

Turned out that the nail had carved a canal through my toe, which periodically got re-infected. First I had to go on antibiotics to kill any infection in there; then he did work on the nail, killing part of the nail bed, and then finally rebuilt the fold (the part where the side of the nail touches the toe). There was some pain, but he told me the tissue in there had become 'plasticized' and it could have led to it becoming cancerous later, or I could just have gotten gangrene and lost the toe.

The insurance I had at the time covered it pretty well, and he remembered me when I went back a few years later with pain in the OTHER ankle (which turned out to be a ruptured Achilles tendon, which he blamed on the Levoquin I was on earlier that year for my gall bladder removal).
posted by mephron at 11:57 AM on October 21, 2009

BTW, anyone out there with an ingrown toenail tempted to ignore it and see if it goes away, or to mess with it yourself - don't. Get it it seen to. You'll be saving yourself a bunch of pain and pus and yuck.

posted by Artw at 12:13 PM on October 21, 2009

Just ... ouch.

But the original point, self-modification by athletes. Interesting question, as also asked about Lasik surgery & so forth. Is this something that's against the spirit of the thing? And of course, where do you draw the line, if any?

If you start, say, with a swimmer doing a full-body shave to increase performance, must you, for logical consistency's sake, eventually allow genetically modified swimmers with flipper-feet & dorsal fins? Gills?

Or do you insist that, to pick another sport, all runners must wear the same shoes, or must run barefoot? Otherwise, if you somehow had two identical runners—perhaps clones, as long as we're getting into genetic modification—with identical training, but two different pair of shoes, would it be the runner or the shoes that won the race?

I suppose if you really boil it down & then draw that line, you'd end up with pure-sporters who never even check the score one side, & winning-is-the-only-thing proponents on the other.

Personally, I have a horse in neither race, but am just blue-skying.
posted by Forrest Greene at 12:16 PM on October 21, 2009

BTW, anyone out there with an ingrown toenail tempted to ignore it and see if it goes away, or to mess with it yourself - don't. Get it it seen to. You'll be saving yourself a bunch of pain and pus and yuck.

I agree with this and I'm definitely not telling you to do what I did when I last had an ingrown toenail. See, I really didn't want to have to go to the doctor 'cause I hate doctors and have to see them enough as it is. So I put an ice cube on it for a minute, drank a slug of whisky, and pulled half the nail out. Slowly. I couldn't do it fast because I suspected ripping the entire nail out would result in all kinds of unwanted, you know, blood and other bodily fluids.

Yeah, so I now understand why pulling your nails out is kind of a cliche for torture. It wasn't a pleasant experience. One might even go as far as to say it was decidedly unpleasant. But I could handle it without too much trouble because I knew I was doing it myself and could stop at any time. I mention this because I think of it every time one of those freaky torture-fanatic Republicans gets on television and says that waterboarding can't be torture because we do it to our own special forces in SERE training. I know from firsthand experience that something which is unambiguously torture when somebody else does it to you can be tolerated when you know you have the power to make it stop at any time.

But it really did hurt quite a lot. Still better than going to the doctor.
posted by Justinian at 12:33 PM on October 21, 2009

Personally, I have a horse in neither race, but am just blue-skying.
Show up at a horse race with a sky-blue one, and you're going to be answering some questions.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:38 PM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Justinian - that's probably a lot more sensible than cutting at it a bit with scissors, then a bit more the next day, then tweasers, then draining pus and bits, then repeating over weeks because your're sure you fixed it this time, then stubbing it every so often for extra fun.
posted by Artw at 12:47 PM on October 21, 2009

After some big toenail trauma, it dried up yellow and crusty and eventually fell off. I'll never forget the scene that morning when I offered my dead big toenail to my girls as a kettle cooked potato chip. The sight of the two oldest gagging on their waffles in unisone was comedy gold. My wife however, thought not.
posted by repoman at 12:51 PM on October 21, 2009 [5 favorites]

The only source I can find for ljsbrand's gruesome and implausible-sounding abortion-as-performance-enhancer tale is hosted on something called "Global Catholic Network," and contains this awesome source chain: "director of research at the Texas pro-life group Life Dynamics is quoted by Report [magazine] quoting from a Finnish sports medicine expert"

...who no doubt heard it from a guy who was told by his girlfriend's brother's cousin who thinks he may have read about it somewhere.

Snopes has it as unproven speculation but I think they're being generous.
posted by ook at 12:52 PM on October 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

Didn't someone make a necklace out of his toenails ... ?

The creepiest thing about that is that it's labeled as a "ceremonial necklace," which makes me wonder exactly what sorts of ceremonies one performs with a necklace made out of human toenails.
posted by infinitywaltz at 12:57 PM on October 21, 2009


I definitely misjudged my reaction to this subject.
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:07 PM on October 21, 2009

Thank you for this post... it proves to me I'm not the only nutter in the asylum.

I hate my toenails. When I was a kid my mother forced me to wear shoes that were too small, so my toes all bend in. The nails are at 45 degrees to my toes, and the curve to much I can barely cut them. Which often means I don't.

About 6 years ago I was playing with the dog in the back garden and kicked a wall in bare feet (I missed the football by this much). The big toe nail shattered half way down the bed, driving a shaft of nail into the flesh. I left it for a week, and only went to the chiropodist when I prohdded it and yellow gunk spurted everywhere. The chiropodist called me some interesting names when she saw it.

She burnt half the nail away (and the same on the other foot).

I still have problems with the nails catching, refusing to cut and then tearing out of shear spite.

Maybe I'll pretend I'm an ultra runner and ask her to burn all the nails off.

You get 300lb ultrarunners, right?
posted by twine42 at 1:20 PM on October 21, 2009

What was the article referring to with regards to cyclists and "blood boosters"? I thought drugs to boost oxygen content was outlawed pretty much everywhere.
posted by cj_ at 1:41 PM on October 21, 2009

Forrest Greene equivocates: "Personally, I have a horse in neither race, but am just blue-skying.

Kirth Gerson promises: "Show up at a horse race with a sky-blue one, and you're going to be answering some questions."

Not to worry, I was just talking about my three-piece suit.
posted by Forrest Greene at 1:52 PM on October 21, 2009

It's odd, in my mind, to compare burning off toe-nails with taking steroid. Burning off toenails won't necessarily make a run faster, for a determined runner - just more pleasant.

It's more on the order of wearing band-aids over your nipples and vaseline between your thighs to prevent chafing. Sure, these are "performance-enhancing" measures, in that competitors with bleeding nipples will have a harder time concentrating on the run than those without.
posted by muddgirl at 1:53 PM on October 21, 2009

Eeeeeeeeeeeeewwww Groooooooooooossssssssssss.

Mind you, when I was a competitive marathoner I'd lose a toenail or two every year, but not on purpose. (And I had the same reaction as above then, too.)
posted by stagewhisper at 1:56 PM on October 21, 2009

I managed to marathon three times without any surgery. My big toenail did turn black and fall off once, from a lot of downhill running. But still, ouch.
posted by fixedgear at 1:59 PM on October 21, 2009

The toe pictures, the toe nail necklace (?!??), and all of these toe anecdotes have done their job of weirding me out.
posted by shinyshiny at 2:02 PM on October 21, 2009

Is there some other way for non-ultramarathoner people to prevent this from happening? My wife's second toenail falls off regularly when she's running. Should we be finding better shoes? Socks?

Is there really no solution to this other than removing your toenails?
posted by jsmith77 at 2:05 PM on October 21, 2009

I think it's a neat idea, and I'd love to see more overlap between the worlds of extreme athleticism and extreme body modification. Do male runners know about nipple removal? Hell, I can't think of any reason that ultramarathoners would need their pinkies.
posted by box at 3:19 PM on October 21, 2009

artw, were you me in high school?

I can't believe I mucked around with my toe that much before I had discovered whiskey.
posted by flaterik at 4:55 PM on October 21, 2009

I went to Russia with that foot! I marched through snow in decaying boots! It was like the seige of Leningrad! *

* no eating of dead bodies though.
posted by Artw at 4:57 PM on October 21, 2009

Is there anything to the conventional wisdom (i.e., your mom told you when a kid) that you must always cut your toenails straight across, with a special straight clipper, and not on a curve or they will grow in?
posted by bad grammar at 5:10 PM on October 21, 2009

The only response I can muster to this post is "FUGGH-GAH-GAKH" and running away. Yeek.
posted by emjaybee at 5:45 PM on October 21, 2009

I think the general thingis you want to avoid leaving any "hooks" at the sides of your nails, as they will eventually grow in. It's probably easier to see what you are doing with the square cutting and avoid that.
posted by Artw at 5:59 PM on October 21, 2009

Eh. Well if you're an ultramarathoner, I don't think the choice presented is toenails or no toenails. At least as experienced by me (a lowly marathoner), it's a choice between no toenails and run, watch one (or more) turn black and fall off, grow back, repeat. It was kind of hideous, and I can see the appeal of not going through it again and again. Though maybe you get used to it.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:16 PM on October 21, 2009

My toenails are just dandy. They keep the ends of my toes from growing right though the front of my shoes. I've never had an ingrown toenail.

Not only that, but they're delightful to look at. I was thinking of painting them different colours and showing them off more, but I'm chicken (it's a guy thing).

I stubbed my toe once. Nothing happened.

Another time a loaded forklift ran over my foot, and guess what?? STEEL-TOED BOOTS, that's what.
posted by sneebler at 6:38 PM on October 21, 2009

Well, might as well share my story.

I locked myself out of my house once as a teenager. But I was able to unlatch the lock for the windows in our kitchen, and managed to get inside without incident.

Once inside, my first instinct was to close the window. But it wouldn't close. Several decades of paint had caused it to jam in the open position. I pushed and I pushed, but the window wouldn't come down. So I wrapped my hands around the top of the window and pulled down as hard as I could.

Well, that freed it.


You wouldn't think eight fingers could fit in the narrow slit between the frames of two windows. But I can personally attest to the fact that they do! As can my neighbors, who ended up calling the police because they thought someone was being murdered next door.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:02 PM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Since moving to the mountains I've discovered what it's like to have toes banging against the front of (admittedly cheap) shoes and (admittedly expensive) ski touring boots. Seven years in the army and I never had any problems with my feet, now I've lost four toe nails in nine months. The strange thing is there's never been pain, they just turn blue and then a few months later get loose enough to fall off, with a fresh nail underneath.

Socks haven't been a factor at all, it's always contact with the front of a boot, usually from going downhill. My full on hiking books don't let my feet slide forward and avoid this problem completely. The cheap shoes are in the trash now (you get what you pay for) and I'll get the toe box punched out in my touring boots this winter.
posted by furtive at 7:52 PM on October 21, 2009

Ya know, the first time your big toe goes black, then falls off, it's agony followed by relief.

But as the miles wear on and the other toe nails fall prey to running shoes, ill-fitting socks, poor toenail trimming, and fall and grow back, the idea of losing a toenail or three or five becomes less repulsive.

I can't remember the last time I had a full set of ten toenails. Right now I am missing two.

They grow back, weaker and weaker each time, and fall off easier and easier.

I did think at one point about having my toenails removed, but then thought why bother. They fall off and regrow all by themselves. No surgeon needed.

Athletes - remember to trim your toenails and file and ensure that no part of the toenail catches onto a sock or a shoe while running, skiing or snowshoeing. Injinji socks help. But once the toenail is weakened from too much impact and stress, what grows back will be weaker than the toenail that dwelled there before.
posted by seawallrunner at 10:36 PM on October 21, 2009

One time I was walking along a log at a lake. A perfect place, one log on the water, another tree overhead at a slant. Rope going up, rope hanging down, and fast drop off. So I'm heading to shore to climb up, when suddenly a slab of tree was jammed under a big toe nail.

Well, it hurt, but it was still attached and laying there. And it was a perfect place. So I just followed my plan and climbed up the tree for a swing down. But then I thought, "What if hitting the water rips the nail more?".

So I attempted to slide 'carefully' off the end of the rope. I did a good job, except, then the knot swung up and hit me in the jaw.

Who'd have known, injured toes cause chipped teeth?

About a week later, another stick got shoved under the nail. Oh. My. God. It hurt, and now, I wasn't in a perfect place. The nail was now sticking straight up, at the base. This time it was a doctor visit. He just cut the offending thing off, and it all grew back right.
posted by Goofyy at 9:53 AM on October 22, 2009

Pretty much proves my belief that long distance runners are fucked in the head.

I wonder if this is a possible cure for toenail fungus?
posted by zzazazz at 9:55 AM on October 23, 2009

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