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Big Toe Nail Problem

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
Hey everyone,
I purchased a new pair of Lange Vector ski boots this year (which were professionally fitted to my foot) and I have been out 4 times semi-aggressive skiing.

The second time I was out I felt and after clearing a fairly large bump I felt some discomfort on my big toe, only later to find it a bit bruised. Well, this progressed to my nail completely wanting to fall off (after 4th time out). I trimmed my nail to a 1/4 length which would prevent any interfernce while skiing, etc. Can this potentially become infected? Was it a mistake to cut my nail so short? Will my nail grow back ok?

Secondly, is this an indication that I need to have my right boot liner packed out and/or sheel grinded? Or is this an indication that the boot is too large? My boots are a size 26.5 which fit me perfectly, except for the initial tighness.

NOTE: This is my 3rd nail on the same foot problem, but previous boots were too large.

Any help would be extremely appreciated!
post #2 of 31
I have had the same problem every time I have new boots. This year, it happened on both of my big toes. I generally chalk it up to fine tuning the fit of the boot. I have never had my toenail or toe become infected and there is no associated pain so I do not worry about it. It looks a little wierd when I am barefoot however.
post #3 of 31
I would take the boots back to your bootfitter and they should be able to make some alterations to either the liner or the shell. I had similar problems w/ my boots when I first got them. The results of the alterations were immediately apparent. Good Luck.

[ January 14, 2003, 09:51 AM: Message edited by: DC_Skier ]
post #4 of 31
Stretching the liner for length may help. A shim on the tongue to take up some volume and drive you back into the heel pocket and hold you there will probably help too especially if you have low volume in that ankle area. That is a fairly large volume boot and one thing you want to avoid is padding around the heel or anywhere behind the foot. That will exacerbate the toe problem. Driving the heel back from in front of the ankle will hold the heel in place AND help/fix the toe problem. Don't screw with the toe nail,let it fall off on it's own. The new nail growing underneath is what eventually pushes it off. They usually grow back fine and while they're gone it solves most of the problems.
post #5 of 31
take a look at your bare foot when it is out of the boot and while you are standing on your footbed.

if the big toe is "pointed up" some into the air, you can put a little shim under the knuckle. Try a small piece of neoprene.

This will sometimes depending on your foot, allow or even trigger a reaction that will make the toe curl down a little. This might help with the toe nail bang.
post #6 of 31
Sounds like a rear entry boot problem of the 80's. Actually was a problem for some rear entry boots back then. The problem was not enough pressure on the forefoot to keep the foot and toes from sliding forward in the boot, thus mashing the big toe against the shell of the boot, thus causing bruising and black toe. Basically, the boot doesn't fit you right. Raichle F7's and 8's were famous for this. They packed out so fast you couldn't crank them down tight enough to keep your foot stable. I'd say your boot is either too big, allowing your foot to slide forward in the shell, or it's too small and you jam your toes into the shell. Especially when skiing bumps. Or. cut your freakin toenails more often. Only kidding there!
post #7 of 31
I have a problem with the black toe but I don't think that it is my boots (Lange). It happens when I get tired and a bit in the back seat lifting up my toes in the boots. I started taping my big toes and putting a bit of padding on the top of the toe which seems to help. It takes me a year to replace a big toenail. One ski trip I had to drill a hole in the nail to relieve the fluid pressure. I couldn't even walk until I drained them.That was fun.
post #8 of 31
I had the same problem but only on one foot(the left). In the end of the day, after some boot modifications which didnt really work, I took the easy way out,bought some adhesive cotton wool padding which I now put on the big toe before starting out for the day, it takes no time at all, costs about the equivalent of $10 a season and solves the problem.
post #9 of 31
Had to have a nail cut out of a big toe about a month ago in prep for a ski trip later this week. No way I could ski with it.
In the past I've tried taping the big toe and 2nd toe together. Really didn't do much good.
post #10 of 31
Wow! I had no idea that this was that big a problem. I hope some of our boot fitter bears will jump on this one, but, i've had quite a bit of boot fitting experience in the past years. This is how I see it. It all boils down to poorly fitting boots. Boots that may be the right size but with too much room in the toe box area. There are pads that can be glued into place in the forefoot area to keep your foot from lifting inside the boot shell. If your foot lifts enough to put you in the back seat something is definitly wrong. I used to have a friend, Jay, who when he skied bumps would get thrown back and forth and would flex his toes upward inside his boots to keep from going to far backseat. His big toes would be black all Winter. Once his technique improved enough that he could stay balanced while skiing moguls, his toes were spared the torture. And, so were we, having to listen to him bitch about sore toes all the time. He also ditched those old rear entrys too and no longer looked like Goofey skiing extreme with Donald Duck and the boys.

So, what I'm trying to say is, there's nothing like a good fitting pair of boots, and a few lessons on how to stay centered on your skis, to eliminate toe bang. Along with a good pedicure!
post #11 of 31
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the input guy, really great stuff! Well I have already modified my toe nail as previously stated (trimmed down 3/4) so now it is a bit sore. Will this hinder the regular pattern in which it grows back? I trimed it based on how loose the nail was on my toe.

My boots were profesionally fitted and are great on the slopes, but I do admit that balance was a sheer factor contributing to this situation I presently face. I definitely feel the diff. when perfectly balanced as opposed to weighted in the back seat. I do not have a footbed or shaped insole in my boots, however will this rectify the problem? I was thinking of getting them strected but only want to do this at last resort.

Keep in mind once again that my left foot is completely fine with no soreness or nail problems.

Thanks again!
post #12 of 31
Lange Guy, If you don't fix the problem, your toe will keep getting sore, no doubt. You might be like me and have one foot a little larger than the other. Foot beds definitly help. I've had them for years and couldn't/wouldn't be without them. If I remember the last time I had a Lange on, the toe area of the liner felt thin. Is this true? If so, some extra padding would keep the toe from rubbing the boot.
post #13 of 31
Originally posted by Lars:
Wow! I had no idea that this was that big a problem. !
I had a pair of new boots two years ago that were constantly blackening my middle toe. Previous to this, I did not have the problem. Now, I have new Lange's and they are great. Solution? get them fit right, and ignore the old ski boot fitter's tale, "Ayuh, ski boot should be a half size smaller." This is what my problem was. And it's stupid. It implies that they are using the front of the boot to hold your foot in place. As Lars posted above, the boot should hold you around the forefoot. If when fitting your boot, your toes are up against the front, get a longer boot, not, "Oh, your heel will slide back into the cuff and your toes won't hit the front." This half size thing is all over the place, so it is rigorously believed, which may be why, along with loose fitting boots, there are so many incidences of lost nails. But it's the firmness of the boot around your foot that holds it. Give yourself room in the toe box.
post #14 of 31
I can relate to this problem, I changed over from 12 year old boots and went straight into a clinic with new boots. Within 2 hours I had managed to stub both big toes so severely that both toe nails eventuall went black and fell off inside a week. Having a podiatrist for a partner, she was less than impressed.

Not being an expert on boots I won't comment on fit.... but from experience with cutting it down to 3/4 you run a good chance of an ingrown toenail and they hurt like all @#$%. Having had toe surgery a number of times since my initial toenail problems, I would suggest you avoid this at all costs. According to my other half just keep em short (just below the tip of your toe), and fix your technique so you don't keep stubbing them.

My end solution has been a partial nail removal due to continual abuse by ski boots and myself trying your cutting technique. Avoid this solution, because if you have to pay for the surgery its gonna cost a few $$$$ and a lot of pain and time (4 years for me) getting it right.
post #15 of 31
Figured I'd throw this out there:

First off, your forefoot (1st 1 or 2 buckles) should NEVER be "cranked down". They should only be tight enough to open with minimal presure. (Note: If you insist on over-tightening the top of the forefoot, you WILL have circulatory problems, which can result in many different symptoms, be it cramped toes, pinched toes / toenails, cramped arches, cold feet, etc.)

Your HEEL needs to be "cranked down". From the ankle buckle to the top of your calf, the buckles should be as tight as you can make them without discomfort. This is where all the control and stability of your boots lie, therefore, what input they will give your skis.

[ January 15, 2003, 08:57 AM: Message edited by: EPSkis ]
post #16 of 31
Black toe can be caused by a couple of different things. One the footbed can be ground so as to rotate the toes into the side of the boot. The fix, grind the footbed on the oposite side.
Two it can be caused by skiing in the back seat. Especially in moguls. I don't care if the boot is the right size, agressive skiing in the back seat will do it. First check fore/aft alignment. If that is fine take lessons to get in the front seat.
post #17 of 31
Sounds like classic black toe. Most likely not caused by the boot but rather landing the jump in the back seat, jamming your toes. It happens to many of us at one time or another.
post #18 of 31
Alot of excellent posts here.

One would think that if we are skiing in the back seat both toes would suffer the same fate. From reading all of these posts and from my own experience damage to only one toe appears to be the norm. Does this mean the culprit is fit as opposed to style?

There is no question that with proper technique we can eliminate toe jam. The problem arises however when we get tired or when we make an isolated error. Should our toes turn black under these circumstances or should fit accomodate some degree of skier error. We all make mistakes. Because the majority of us don't lose toenails every year and I would expect the majority of us make mistakes, fit rather than form may be the more determining cause.

It would be interesting to hear comments about boot fit from those of us who take big jumps landing back or ski in the back seat, but don't suffer toenail pain and/or loss. A comparison of their experiences may help to determine the solution.

Whatever the cause, what do we do to alleviate the pain of toe jam?. I don't think cutting our toenail to a fraction of its original length will help. There is no question, however, that we have to make sure our toenails do not exceed the length of our toes. I have found that the best way to aleviate the pain and ski the next day is to drill a hole in the center of the toenail and drain the underlying fluid. It is the fluid that builds up under the toenail that causes the pain. After a few days I find the fluid stops accumulating and i can ski pain free for the rest of the year. The downside, however, is that it generally takes a year for the new toenail to regrow and look normal.
post #19 of 31
Well, whats more important? Your big toe or some NICE ski boots?
post #20 of 31
knuck, very often skiers use different mechanics to turn left verses right. Is your left turn the same as your right? It still can quite easily be technique that is the problem.
post #21 of 31
After having already used my boots for a season or two, I felt some pain and pressure on top of my right big toe. It's still black. I took the boots to the shop, and they ground off a trifle in that area. Problem gone. However, as I've said, the toe remains black! One thing I've learned from past experiences: Keep the toenail on the large toe as short as you can get it. Have your boot fit so that you don't slide forward - the suggestion of a "tongue shim" is excellent.

Please report back!
post #22 of 31

I believe I turn the same each way. I get toe jam from jumping for some reason only on my left big toe. Maybe my left foot is bigger. It jams when I land flat, often from a large jump to a flatter landing area, which tends to cause me to fall back.


Tongue shims sound like a great idea. How do they interact with your shin, especially if you do alot of jumping?
post #23 of 31
Knuck maybe your left foot/ankle is slightly smaller allowing the foot to slide forward. You can try putting some stiff filler material under the foot bed but inside the liner of the boot. About a 1/16 inch usually does it.
post #24 of 31
Thread Starter 
Great responses and advice guys! I miust admit that I do fall victim to some back-seat bump lands and that no doubt has largely contributed to the nail problem. Last time I was out and adjusting my balanced, I noticed a significant difference between landing perfect middle balanced and not. I think I will hit the local pro shop and have them slightly grind the big toe area of my boot, or have them adjust it based on their professional knowledge. Again, it is either a too large or too small issue right?

Back to the big toe, is it recommended to go see a podiatrist or family doctor regarding this? Happened twice before and my nail grew back with no issue. However, this is the first time that the nail has become completely separated from its bed, but still attached at the sides and base. There is no pain at all and I treat it daily to reduce any chance of infection. Any advice or tips regarding the best way to treat this and have a healthy recovery?
post #25 of 31
Tongue shims are made of neoprene. They don't really "react" with the shin - they just hold it back.
post #26 of 31
i've got really thin ankles and have lost a lot of toenails, they always grow back. solved this with padding in front of ankle, socks that are padded on top of foot and shin but not behind heel,keeping the cuff buckles snug and custom footbeds. i'm surprised footbeds have not been mentioned more as that would help a lot with holding the foot in place. good support will keep the foot from getting longer when weighted, particularly intense with bumps/jumps. also support under the arch gives the 2nd buckle something to clamp the foot against instead of just flattening the foot out which would make things worse.
post #27 of 31
Make sure you're tightening the lower cuff buckle sufficiently. Can you tighten them more? If not, or if tightening them causes discomfort elsewhere I'd go back to the bootfitter. I know the only toe bang I've ever experienced was after landing a jump when my cuff buckles were a notch looser than normal. If it's a habitual problem even with your ankles held securely in place I'd guess the problem might be more that you have one toe longer than the rest and need some adjustments to accomodate it.
post #28 of 31
Thread Starter 
I will definitely bring this up with my bootfitter.

Back to one of my original questions, is it recommended that I see a podiatrist/family doctor regarding this to minimize any chance of infection. Right now it does not hurt at all except for the occassional pinching. The last thing I want is an ingrown or fungal problem.
post #29 of 31
Thread Starter 
Anyone please?
post #30 of 31
Lange Guy, I'm not a Dr. but if it will relieve your worries about infection or further problems with your toe, I would definitly have it checked out by a podiatrist. Better to be safe than sorry and continue with pain. It might turn out that you have a toe problem and not a boot problem. Worst case scenario, you might have to quit skiing for a while till it heals.
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