Runner's Toe (or Hiker's Toe)

WasatchWill

Ready For More
.
Joined
Jul 23, 2013
Messages
1,559
A little over a month ago, I noticed a spot under my right big toenail, within the week after a hike up Provo Peak. When I first noticed it, I immediately wondered if it could be cancer, specifically a type of skin cancer that can appear under a nail called subungual melanoma. Yes, I can be paranoid that way at times! However, as I thought about it more, I thought about how I had just recently hiked Provo Peak and was wearing some old trail runners that may have turned out to be a bit too tight around my toes, such that the steep descent down the mountain may have caused my toes to be repetitively smashed into the front tips and tops of the shoes with my right big toe potentially taking more of a beating than the others. I also helped someone move a couch out of their apartment that same week and I think one my kids stepped on my toe at one point around that same time frame, so I became confident that between one of those three incidents lies the cause of the spot.

I've since looked up more info and pics of the serious and scary form of skin cancer that can appear under a nail and I don't think that's what I've got, since that more typically starts out as a streak that runs all the way from the bottom of the nail bed to the top edge. That, and that type of skin cancer is so rare, especially among caucasians and I don't have any of the other risk factors for it. That then lead me to something much more common and much less serious called subungual hematoma, or "Runner's toe". In my case, I may be able to call it "hiker's toe". I'm also taking comfort in the fact that it has not gotten any bigger in over a month since I first noticed it nor has it changed color, shape, and so on. The only change, if any, is that it does seem to have moved upward a tiny bit with the nail, a good sign. If it's indeed a mild case of runner's toe, it can take several months to grow out since a nail will normally only grow about 1 millimeter each month. Fortunately, for me there's absolutely no pain whatsoever with it. Of course, there was some pain when finishing the hike down from Provo Peak, but all of my toes and the whole of my feet were achy then.

I'm just curious, have any of you ever had an abnormal spot appear under one of your big toenails, especially after hiking down a long steep trail? I've posted a couple pics of my spot as thumbnails (lovely pun, I know!) in case nobody wants to have a detailed look. I don't think it's that graphic though.

upload_2015-8-14_20-35-53.png

upload_2015-8-14_20-36-24.png
 

Nick

-
.
Joined
Aug 9, 2007
Messages
12,927
When I was in serious hiking mode, my big toe nails would go solid black and blue at times. The whole thing would practically just fall off eventually. Kinda gross, but yeah, it's a symptom of the sport I think. Totally normal, IMO.
 

WasatchWill

Ready For More
.
Joined
Jul 23, 2013
Messages
1,559
When I was in serious hiking mode, my big toe nails would go solid black and blue at times. The whole thing would practically just fall off eventually. Kinda gross, but yeah, it's a symptom of the sport I think. Totally normal, IMO.

My wife insists it's just a bruise too. She actually lost a whole toenail as well after some bad bruising from a hike up Timp way back when we were dating.
 

Vegan.Hiker

Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2014
Messages
2,094
My wife used to gets those from steep descents but bought new boots a tad bigger and it hasn't happened since. Also, I make a point to clip my toe nails nice and short right before each trip and I think that helps tremendously.
 

SKLund

Member
Joined
Aug 19, 2016
Messages
459
Got right it right now but I ain't gonna show my nail. The dermo can spot cancer in about 2 heartbeats. Don't go looking up stuff on the web because it will just scare you. Bring it to the Doc. If you go to a family Doc first, they should do a punch biopsy and send you on to the dermatologist so that the results will be available when you have your appointment.

If you are doing heavy footwork, consider a foot fitness regime of stretching and strengthening of your intrinsic and extrensic muscles of the foot, ankle, calves, achilles tendon, ankles, plantar fascia, soleous tendon, etc...etc... In the case of runners toe, when the nail is clear again, do toe bend backs 2 or 3 times a week. Put one hand at the base of the toes, the other on the tips of the toes at the second joint, and gently bend them back.

I am not a Doc but have had every foot overuse syndrome there is.
 

WasatchWill

Ready For More
.
Joined
Jul 23, 2013
Messages
1,559
Got right it right now but I ain't gonna show my nail. The dermo can spot cancer in about 2 heartbeats. Don't go looking up stuff on the web because it will just scare you. Bring it to the Doc. If you go to a family Doc first, they should do a punch biopsy and send you on to the dermatologist so that the results will be available when you have your appointment.

If you are doing heavy footwork, consider a foot fitness regime of stretching and strengthening of your intrinsic and extrensic muscles of the foot, ankle, calves, achilles tendon, ankles, plantar fascia, soleous tendon, etc...etc... In the case of runners toe, when the nail is clear again, do toe bend backs 2 or 3 times a week. Put one hand at the base of the toes, the other on the tips of the toes at the second joint, and gently bend them back.

I am not a Doc but have had every foot overuse syndrome there is.

I grew quite confident with it being a subungal hematoma because of how sudden it appeared plus the fact I had worn some old somewhat tighter fitting trail runners on a really steep trip the week prior to really noticing it. It did take a full 9+ months to fully grow out. I've since gotten another one on a smaller toe this past summer that is in the middle of growing out now. Anyway, all good now...thanks for the other tips and suggestions though.
 

Nick

-
.
Joined
Aug 9, 2007
Messages
12,927
I got it bad again on both big toes when I hiked Dark Canyon this past spring. That Sundance Trail is brutal. I didn't want gnarly black and blue toenails all summer so I had my wife paint them. They're mostly back to normal now, but I've decided I just like having my toenails painted! Just switched to glittery purple yesterday. Woot woot! :cool:
 

slc_dan

Desert Rat-Weekend Warrior
Joined
Jun 7, 2012
Messages
1,686
I got it bad again on both big toes when I hiked Dark Canyon this past spring. That Sundance Trail is brutal. I didn't want gnarly black and blue toenails all summer so I had my wife paint them. They're mostly back to normal now, but I've decided I just like having my toenails painted! Just switched to glittery purple yesterday. Woot woot! :cool:


Only a true man would admit to such things.
 

WasatchWill

Ready For More
.
Joined
Jul 23, 2013
Messages
1,559
I got it bad again on both big toes when I hiked Dark Canyon this past spring. That Sundance Trail is brutal. I didn't want gnarly black and blue toenails all summer so I had my wife paint them. They're mostly back to normal now, but I've decided I just like having my toenails painted! Just switched to glittery purple yesterday. Woot woot! :cool:
I have daughters that like to do that to me too.
 

swmalone

Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2016
Messages
394
I'm glad to see someone else mentioned don't look stuff up on the internet. It doesn't matter what your symptoms are, but the time you are done researching you will have at least 6 things wrong with you and all of them fatal. I used to get this with my toes every year. I have since switched to using good trail runners that a size large for most hikes. I still use the hiking boots for backpacking and unfortunately they are only half sized up so occasionally I still have the problem.
 

Perry

Formerly Cuberant
.
Joined
Aug 8, 2016
Messages
2,059
I got it on both second toes on my Highline trip last month...



I asked my podiatrist about it who said he sees it all the time on his runners and hikers. Totally normal.

I cant hide the ick cause I went with clear when my wife finally talked talked me into a pedicure. ;)

Sent from my SM-G920V using Tapatalk
 
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
Bob Anyone a Runner? General Discussion 0
Mike K Box Elder Peak (via "Sleigh Runner") Hiking & Camping 1
alene Wasastch Back runner General Discussion 0
GramaNana Hello from Utah - future GWT hiker Noobs: Introduce yourself! 11
zionsky Hiker Dies from Fall at Angels Landing General Discussion 1
zionsky Rainier hiker back from the dead General Discussion 2
Rockskipper Hiker seriously injured by rock at Fisher Towers General Discussion 12
Parma PCT Hiker Trying to Lose 200 lbs on the Trail! General Discussion 7
N FL hiker who travels to Teton Wilderness area frequently. Noobs: Introduce yourself! 3
Perry Hiker Dies in the Wave of Appearent Heat-related Conditions General Discussion 12
Perry Missing hiker in Uintas - Ray Humpherys General Discussion 104
Perry Injured Utah Hiker Rescued Near Kings Peak General Discussion 9
Perry Grizzlies follow hiker - Holy Cow! General Discussion 14
regehr hiker injured and rescued in Little Cottonwood General Discussion 3
Jackson Hiker Killed by Grizzly Bear in Yellowstone General Discussion 59
Deepak YAH. Yet Another Hiker Noobs: Introduce yourself! 1
Mr. Me Another (but Awesomer) Hiker/Photographer Noobs: Introduce yourself! 1
ogg Court ruling, hiker must pay SAR bill General Discussion 12
balzaccom How did the hiker cross the stream? General Discussion 5
Vegan.Hiker Drones to be used for hiker resupply General Discussion 8
Nick Missing Hiker on Kings Peak General Discussion 3
regehr Hiker death in White Pine, Little Cottonwood General Discussion 0
Vegan.Hiker East coast hiker visiting Utah Trip Planning 28
Bill Gear Review Clik Elite Hiker Gear Reviews 9
Yellowstone 1 Gear Review Katadyn Hiker Pro Filter Gear Reviews 3

Similar threads

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

Top