Do you ever wonder what makes a person want to run hours and days on end? There are many out there who enjoy the feeling of a 5 mile run, and even the accomplishment of a marathon. But what about those that go even further, and run 50 plus miles at one time? The motivation behind ultra runners is another topic for another time, but what sacrifices do their bodies, specifically their feet, endure?
When running long distances is a part of your everyday life, your body endures a lot of stress and fatigue. There are muscle cramps, chaffing, dehydration, blisters, joint pain, heel pain and yes even toenail problems.
A lot of those that run long distances can get discoloration in their toenails, and blisters that form underneath the nail. In some cases the toenail may even fall off. Most ultra marathon runners are running on different types of terrain, and up and down hills. This can cause jamming of the toes in the shoes, which leads to problems with their toenails.
One Ultra marathon runner, Marshall Ulrich, actually had all of his toenails removed by a podiatrist in 1992. His toenails bothered him so much when running that he would sometimes poke a hole in a throbbing nail during the middle of a race to reduce the pressure. Now that he has all his toenails removed, he has been known to say the he doesn’t have to worry about them bothering him anymore.
This is definitely an extreme measure, and is not necessarily recommended. Most podiatrists would give this option as a last resort. There are risks involved, such as nerve damage, callus formation, and sometimes the toenails will keep growing back. Blackened and painful toenails can often times be resolved by changing your shoes to ones that allow more room for swelling, and aren’t as tight on your toes.
So, even though there are those few ultra runners out there who have found removing their toenails to solve their running woes, you might want to think twice before permanently removing those nails of yours.
If you are a runner, that suffers from toenail, or any foot problem check out the office of Dr. Evan Merrill. At Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, we are here to help improve your foot health. Make an appointment today by calling 541-776-3338 or request an appointment online.