One of the very first times I went hiking I came home with a bruised toenail.

What does that even mean?  I didn’t even know that could happen.

But sure enough, once I got my boots and socks off there it was: a black toenail.

We had been hiking at a fairly moderate pace when I jumped down off of a tall rock.  I felt it right then, and wondered if I had hurt something.  It didn’t hurt to continue walking, so I marched on.  But I knew something had happened inside my boot.

I headed to the internet to figure out what a bruised toenail meant for the future health of my foot.  Luckily, my toe ended up just fine after I waited for the black portion of the nail to grow out.  (If you are of the female persuasion a little toenail polish can help the situation along.)

photo:theirishkiwi

The medical term for this condition is Subungual hematoma.

My time researching the issue lead me to the following tips:

  • Keep your toenails clipped short.

  • Lace ‘em up tight!  If your boots aren’t laced tightly enough, your foot can slide around inside the shoe and cause your toes to jam up toward the front of the boot.

  • Bruised toes are especially susceptible during long downhill hikes.  Make sure to re-tighten your laces often to prevent the sliding of your foot.

  • When you buy boots purposely try to make your toe-nails hit the front. They shouldn’t. If they do then those boots probably don’t fit you properly.

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