Toenails are for sissies!

Another one bites the dust.
Some say it’s a runners rite of passage, others say it’s a sign you need to buy new running shoes. My other half would wholeheartedly disagrees on that second statement. It’s apparently a bit of an issue that I have more pairs of running shoes than she has shoes. Seriously, since when is having more than 10 pairs of running shoes considered excessive? Women, I’ll never figure them out!

Losing a toenail is a common occurrence in runners, and what with me pretending to be one it was bound to happen sooner or later. Last night I lost one. This one was really bruised after the QE Spring Marathon and has been affected since then. I thought I’d gotten away with it until I caught it on the duvet and half ripped it off last night, ouch! At least though it’s been long enough for another nail to form underneath, so not all bad.


So being a sad case (not my words) I’ve gone and done a bit of digging about the cause of toenail injuries and their subsequent loss. There’s so much information out there as well as possible preventative measures, such as the lacing methods I posted a guide up about previously.


Toenail injury causes

According to an article by E.A. Mailler and B.B. Adams, the cause of toenail injuries during running is attributable to the repeated impacts that occur with each footfall.  After the initial impact with the ground, there is a brief moment where your shoe has come to a stop but your foot inside of it has not.  Your foot slides forward, usually only by a small amount, but this causes your toenails to take the brunt of the impact with the toebox of your shoe.  Additional stress is applied to your toenails when you push off from the ground, as your toes “claw” at the ground to gain additional propulsion.

  1. Poorly-fitted or loosely-laced shoes can exacerbate the problem: a shoe without sufficient room for your foot to slide forward will cause a more abrupt impact at your toenails, and a shoe with a toebox that is too low will push down on the top of your nails as you push off the ground.  Shoes that are laced too tight can compress the toenails as well, but conversely, a shoe that isn’t laced tightly enough will allow your foot to slide too far forward, banging your nails against the front end of the shoe.
  2. Downhill running: running downhill can magnify the problem, since hills increase your speed and vertical impact force and hence the momentum of your foot as it is sliding forward as well as slanting your shoe downward, creating a ramp for your foot to slide down.
  3. Longer runs and longer races: these obviously are more likely to cause problems with your toenails, since each step leads to additional stress on the nail.  The gradual swelling in your feet that occurs after you’ve covered many miles doesn’t help either, as it effectively reduces the size of your shoe.  Given all of the factors at play, it’s not hard to see why ultramarathoners, who often do 20 or 30-mile runs over hilly trails, are renowned for their ugly toenails.

Those 3 points pretty much explains why running a hilly trail marathon like QE may have been the cause of me losing this particular toenail. RIP lefty 3, your time is up. One day I’ll have a full set of toe nails again.

#sorrynotsorry #toenailfelloff #runnerproblems

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