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Prevent Bruised Toenails by Removing Them Surgically

Hardcore Runners Remove Their Toenails, Permanently

For marathoners, crossing the finish line comes with battle scars — sore muscles, sunburn, sore nipples, and the impressive yet painful bruised toenails. Even though their feet are protected by socks and cushioned sneaks, the repetitive banging against the front of a runner's shoe causes bleeding under the nails, and can sometimes cause nails to just fall off. When these damaged nails do grow back, they don't adhere as well to the skin, becoming an ongoing problem for serial marathoners. To see a photo of what I am talking about visit the RuningSugar group.

To solve this tender problem, about five percent of hardcore long-distance runners have their toenails surgically removed by a podiatrist. If the procedure sounds agonizing to you, it's actually much worse than you imagine. Either acid is poured over the nail bed to melt the nail, or the nail is pulled off the toe. Yikes! For those interested, Dr. Lisa Bliss, winner of the 2007 Badwater Ultramarathon, a 135-mile race in Death Valley, documented her surgery so runners would know what to expect. Warning — it's not for those who faint easily at the sight of blood or needles.

To see what podiatrists have to say about this procedure, just keep reading.

Sports podiatrist Dr. Robert M. Conenello says, "A lot of them [runners] look at their toenails as useless appendages, remnants of claws from evolutionary times long ago. I’ve heard them say, 'Toenails are dead weight.'" One runner explained he used to have to stop mid-run and poke a hole in his throbbing toenail to relieve the pressure, but after having them all removed, toenails are "one less thing to have to deal with." Some runners are embarrassed to show off their bald toes, while others feel it is proof of the miles they've logged, and display it proudly with a Toenails Are For Sissies t-shirt.

Well, that's just another thing that separates me from an ultra-marathoner. Don't get me wrong, I love to run, but I also love a good pedicure.

Join The Conversation
schonefrauen schonefrauen 7 years
Sooo grosss!
tylergrl33 tylergrl33 7 years
I'm dedicated to being in great shape but these people are way above my limit.
kia kia 7 years
another option I am not seeing is that there are various raise to tie your shoes, including a way to raise your toe box to prevent the rubbing. that is why I only lost my big toenail once. once is all it took for me to figure out how to properly lace my shoes for my feet.
lydialee_home lydialee_home 7 years
Chole - I got a black toe nail from NWM last Sunday due to lots of downhill. I used to get a black toe nail on the same toe over and over again until I realize that I actually bought the wrong size of running shoes. I guess my feet expand when I run and I did not account for that when I bought my running shoes. Now that I get the proper size, I hardly get black toe nail on my normal routine (mostly flat).
amybdk amybdk 7 years
Hey runningesq, that's great that you haven't had problems with losing toenails! Not everyone is as fortunate as you. I've done several races (5,10,15 k, and half marathon) and have unfortunately lost nails on my second toe. Each time I buy new shoes, I am fitted by a professional. I just have long 2nd toes and the loss is pretty inevitable. No biggie though. I don't care. Bruised, lost toenails are just par for the course.
kia kia 7 years
Dang, that is commitment. I lost a toenail after one marathon and it was weird. It was also new to me. Most of my friends asked if it was my first. Apparently a good deal of my soccer teammates had lost toenails from getting stepped on by other peoples' cleats.
runningesq runningesq 7 years
for the love of god people! you CAN RUN MARATHONS AND KEEP YOUR TOENAILS! I've run 4 and I have lovely manicured pink toes. If your shoes fit you will be fine.
amybdk amybdk 7 years
Holy moly, Fit! Those surgery pics were.... wow. No words. Like a train wreck, I couldn't stop looking at them!
hausfrau hausfrau 7 years
Is there some kind of doodad that can protect your toes so this isn't a problem?
Soniabonya Soniabonya 7 years
Ew ew ew. I admire marathoners and hard core runners, but that's something that I couldn't do. I'm squirming in my seat and curling my toes just thinking about it.
Spectra Spectra 7 years
My mom had to have one of her toenails removed because of an ingrown nail problem and now her toe just looks weird. I used to get really horrible bruised nails when I was running a lot and I just dealt with them. I never thought about removing the nail...when my mom had it done, she was in serious pain for a while. And when I got married, she had to get a FAKE toenail put on at the salon so she could wear the sandals and look ok. Sorry, I'll pass!
PhillyEagles1 PhillyEagles1 7 years
I have lost my big toe MANY times but not from running. From playing field hockey.. getting stepped on or slammed with a ball! It's pretty gross and takes 10 years to grow back
onlysourcherry onlysourcherry 7 years
Uhhh.... i love running but WTF. Surgically removing a part of your body seems like it crosses the line into disordered behavior. I can't believe that people are responding positively to this.
zeppelinrules zeppelinrules 7 years
wow. that looks just plain horrific.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
Bleached, I agree with runningesq. I just ran my first marathon on Sunday and other than a few small blisters, I'm fine. My toenails were actually bruised more frequently back when I was just doing 5ks, because I hadn't had my shoes professionally fitted at a running store, so they were too small.
Chrstne Chrstne 7 years
I think it's a bit drastic, but not a bad option if you are a serious runner that has issues with their toenails.
runningesq runningesq 7 years
bleached, you don't need to skip marathons because of your toenails. Like I said, I've run four marathons and have pretty (pedicured :)) feet.
bleached bleached 7 years
Hells to the NO WAY.... I've started training for my first triathlon and I certainly did not sign up to have my toenails removed. I'll skip the marathons then...
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