Toes are Bruised, why?

12:04 p.m. on July 11, 2012 (EDT)
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Hi there - my husband and I have been hiking for about 3 months now.  Mostly small hikes (5-10 miles) but we are hooked and can not get enough and plan on getting more serious about it.  Because we were not sure how serious we would get with hiking, we didn't invest in expensive boots, but your average boot from the local Big 5 store.  We took our time buying them, and we think they fit well.  For the most part, I have no soreness in my feet when i'm done, unless I'm going down hill.  I keep my toe nails clipped, wear special breathable socks and I can actually job in these boots.  The minute I go down hill, I feel the pressure on my toes and by the time I'm done, my feet hurt for two days.  Recently, my big toe on my right foot and my pinky on m left are bruised.  The grey/black bruising color on my right toe never goes away and just changes shades.  I thought I had a fungus as first but after going to the doctor they said it was "trama" Do you think it's ill fitted boots?  They don't feel too small but one problem I do have is I can't sinch down the laces near the toes as best as I could and based on blogs that I've been reading, that could be an issue.  Anybody else ever experienced bruised toes? 

12:25 p.m. on July 11, 2012 (EDT)
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Hey delgadopd, welcome to Trailspace.

Toe issues eh? First and foremost I would go with the trama to your toes being caused by toe bang. 

This typically happens with a boot that doesn't fit properly when one is descending. When you add a pack to your back the added weight exacerbates this issue.

What is happening is your foot is sliding forward making contact with the front of your footwear which results in the trama you are experiencing. 

A few things might be causing this:

  • The boot is too short for your feet in regards to length.
  • The boot might be the right length but the interior volume of your boot is greater than the actual volume of your foot which results in a sloppy fit.

When you refer to "Big 5 store" may I ask what store you are talking about specifically?

If(and this is a big if) the problem you are encountering is caused by the volume issue mentioned on the 2nd bullet point above this possibly can be remedied by a higher volume aftermarket footbed.

The "prime" fix for the issue would be to get properly fitting boots but I also have to take into consideration that not everyone has a ton of cash to drop on items at random. 

I don't. :)

Once again, welcome to Trailspace.

Happy hiking-Rick

12:35 p.m. on July 11, 2012 (EDT)
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Thanks Rick for the quick response.  Big 5 is your average sporting goods store, but not to be compared to an REI, which is a higher end store.  When you mentioned "interior volume" it dawned on me that I bought mens boots because I have wide feet and thought I would get a better fit.  Maybe a foot bed would help me.  I've seen people mention "Superfeet" that replace the insoles in your hiking boots or tongue inserts.  I appreciate your input.  I think I have some work to do but just wondering if I was a freak with my bruised toes or if it was common in the hiking world.  Take care, Paulette

12:38 p.m. on July 11, 2012 (EDT)
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While it is not easy to say via this medium (can't see your feet or your boots), it sounds like your boots are not sufficiently keeping your feet firmly seated in the heel.  on flat ground or uphill, this doesn't make much difference.  on downhills, though, it may mean that your feet are sliding forward relative to the boot, so your toes may be hitting the front end of the boot.  this is sometimes called 'toe bang.'  One common telltale sign of toe bang is "black toes" - blood blisters that develop under your toenails - but it can cause bruising too. 

sometimes, you can get boots to fit better by using slightly different/more padded socks or by lacing them differently.  the goal isn't to squash your toes; it's the lacing over the arch of your foot that perform most of the work in keeping your foot seated in the heel.  it may also be that your current boots just don't fit very well.  if you want to hike a lot, having boots that fit well is pretty important. 

REI's website has some nice resources, including this article about choosing and fitting boots.  it emphasizes that the most important thing to look for is fit and comfort.  wise words. 

12:44 p.m. on July 11, 2012 (EDT)
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Thanks alot for taking the time to post.  Appreciate it.

12:45 p.m. on July 11, 2012 (EDT)
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sounds like the boots are too short.

3:43 p.m. on July 11, 2012 (EDT)
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I knew one lady who lost toenails every year from that. The cause has already been well-covered above.

Some boots have a lace lock at the ankle before the laces go the last few eyes up to the top. That lets you have different lacing tension for the foot and for the ankle. If your toes are sliding forward and the cause isn't just that the boot is too small, you can lace up the ankle more tightly than the foot to stop from sliding down into the toe box. Check out Salomon Quest 4D boots for an example.

In boots that don't have a built in lace lock, you can get the same effect by looping the laces together (like tying a knot) at whatever points you want. Hard to explain, but with the laces undone to the point where you want to lock the tension, wrap the laces around each other a couple of times like you were going to tie a knot, then continue lacing the boots up.

4:22 p.m. on July 11, 2012 (EDT)
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I found this spot because I got blisters, very bad ones. One year ago today I joined this group to figure out what the problem was. One of the best pieces of information I got was to buy the book FIXING YOUR FEET.


There are many factors that could be the problem. Here is information this forum posted to me about feet for that issue.

 I did the steep hike, mentioned later in the thread and didn't lace well and lost 7 toe nails.  This book was first and formemost in treating my feet and preparing them for long bouts of walking, and ultimately my trek to Base camp of Mt Everest. two words: GET IT! ( DON"T GET THE KINDLE EDITION. YOU MAY WANT TO HAVE THIS WITH YOU AND BE ABLE TO FLIP EASILY THROUGH IT).


9:00 p.m. on July 11, 2012 (EDT)
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I wear a big boot and buy one size bigger than my shoe size. You should be able to put one to two fingers side by side behind your heel. Hiking up hill gives the opposite effect with bruised heels with too small (right sized shoes).

9:50 a.m. on July 12, 2012 (EDT)
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Welcome to Trailspace delgadopd!

Ricks' summary above is quite good, but your mention that you have a wider helps fill in some of the details.  You likely have a boot that has too much volume.  It's roomy, so your foot slides forward and bangs the front.  You might, as you suggest, be able to soak up some of that extra volume by putting in an aftermarket insole.  I've been fitting boots for a long time, and have seen this work before.  You may be better off in the long run just getting a boot that fits though.  In my experience, Merrells make some of the wider womens boots, so you might start there.  And, if you're not carrying much weight, don't have ankle issues and are willing to pay attention to where you step for the first few hikes, there's no reason not to try a good running shoe for day hikes!

10:28 a.m. on July 12, 2012 (EDT)
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Also, the Keens are good for a wider foot. I use the KEEN Oregon PCT's with SmartFoot insoles. That is a full ankle, but Keen has a full line of boots that range from trail shoes to mids to full ons.

10:43 a.m. on July 12, 2012 (EDT)
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Love my Keen's.

11:10 a.m. on July 12, 2012 (EDT)
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In regards to Keens. Has anyone here experienced the lug issue? Many have and my Oregons are wrecked.

(mine... they are a lot worse now:)


I now use them to cut grass. 

If they could get the lug issue worked out and do a better job on the waterproofing they would have a pretty decent boot. 

11:56 a.m. on July 12, 2012 (EDT)
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Four pairs -- 3 Oregon PCT and 1 issues with lugs at all. Curious, Rick, have you called Keen about it? I know others here have had similar issues as you and kindly informed me before my trek.

12:22 p.m. on July 12, 2012 (EDT)
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I did and they made it right but with the experience I had I am just somewhat relunctant to buy anymore of their boots being I have to depend on them to get me through my solo trips from start to finish.

Rocksylvania is pretty rough on footwear.

I do have to say I like Keen sandals and their low cut socks.

2:05 a.m. on July 13, 2012 (EDT)
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When you do upgrade to better boots, note many models come come in different widths.  You may want to narrow your search to such a model.


2:50 a.m. on July 13, 2012 (EDT)
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Seth is right, your boots are not too short, they are too big, probably not only too long but too much volume. What you are getting is "toe bang" which is common with ill fitting ski boots. Your foot is sliding around in the boot causing your toes to literally bang against the front of the boot, causing the damage.

Your problem isn't cheap boots, it's boots that are wrong for your feet. I've had this problem wearing $500 ski boots, so it isn't about price, it's about fit. My feet are two different sizes, which makes getting a good fit even worse.

I know this problem first hand. I have lost one big toenail twice and the other once due to bad fitting plastic ski boots (XC not downhill). The only cure is better fitting boots. I know that sounds somewhat flip, but that is the answer. Getting boots that fit right is not easy for some folks and I'm one of them. You could try Superfeet. I have them and really like them. They make different ones for high arches or flatter feet.

Big 5 has some okay boots, but REI has more high end boots and better trained staff to fit them, if you have a store nearby. Saving a few bucks on boots by mail ordering them may not be all that wise. I'd buy almost anything else by mail (or Internet, these days), but boots are another story. Tried that myself, with mixed results, mostly bad.

7:58 a.m. on July 13, 2012 (EDT)
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Tom is right with one exception; don't assume the REI employee is knowledgable. Before you put your feet in their hands, interview them. Ask them if they hike or backpack. Find out a bit about their activities. I don't know where you live, but here in Vegas, the boot department seems to be where they put the least knowledgable. And, the are just people who needed a job....any job..... So ask questions. Get some good socks, not white sports socks, but wool or smart wool. Those feet are the foundation of hiking success!

2:34 p.m. on July 13, 2012 (EDT)
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I have refrained from posting due to to being new to the hiking myself. I have to ask if you have tryed tieing your boot to hold your foot to the back?  Also my insoles lasted around 200 miles on my boots. One day they were great, the next day I was in severe pain.After about 2 weeks I ordered a pair of superfeet greens, WOW what a great thing. Always wanting better, I ordered a pair of thick Sole insole, again I say WOW.

Im on concrete all day and wear steel toe boots most of the time. The superfeet I wear in my steel toe boots, the only thing I have a complaint on is, they are a little slick to begin with. The Sole doesnt work well in my steel toes, but in my hiking boot they are great. The superfeet works well in both, I just dont like the slick feel in my hikers. Both brands do need broken in.

Severe foot pain disappeared the second day of wearing the superfeet green.

2:48 p.m. on July 13, 2012 (EDT)
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Heres a link this is the way we tie our boots, but there are several other ways to tie your shoes,,,,who knew?

5:31 a.m. on July 15, 2012 (EDT)
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+1 on tieing your shoes different ways, just do a google search or what have you and you will find many many ways to tie your shoes to accomplish different things. I can't seem to find the link to this one web page that was great and explained them all. If I find it I will be sure to post it.

This is not a permenant fix if the fit is way off, the best solution is to get proper fitting boots. But this can help in the interem, or make an almost perfectly fitting boot perfect.

5:36 a.m. on July 15, 2012 (EDT)
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Not the site I was looking for, but here is a link to a site to get you started with some options.

2:05 p.m. on July 17, 2012 (EDT)
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There are a few ways to lower your shoe volume with inserts of different thicknesses.

You might be able to raise your heel a bit with 'heel lifters'.

These add more to the cost of the shoes you already have and don't necessarily provide a good fit for your feet.

Here is a primer on finding size of foot.

REI has a training class for boot fitting.  I'll give you a bit of what I saw the last time I got boots from them.  I was looking for more support, one that could use crampons, and for heavy off trail use.

She first spent time with the Brannock device.  First sitting; then standing (to see spread); then on one foot leaning to the side; then the other.  She looked at my bare foot for wear patterns and deformities and pushed a few places asking if that was tender or 'felt differently' from other places she poked.  She picked out the problems I had (foot stepped on by a horse, pronation different on one foot than other).

She picked out a few boots in the type I was looking for.  Slipped them on tied them up and then pointed to different parts of the boot to see if I there was a problem.  If while pushing I felt something different or odd, she would trade shoes and see if the same thing happened. 

Having picked the best of the litter, I was to spend half an hour wearing them in the store (the idea is to get me to spend more eye time on the goodies, I suspect).  I returned to get her to do more prodding.  She put on another pair of socks (having two on already) and had me determine if anything significantly had changed. 

What she was looking for was if the bend of the sole of the boot matched where my joints bent, if I could wiggle my toes ('needs enough room to play piano'), if there were any points of boot that seemed to be pressing on flesh more than any other place. 

Off with the third pair of socks and the boots felt roomy enough.  She pushed on different parts of the boot to see if I could feel her thumb and then would mark them with scotch tape.  When she had finished with her assessment of the boot and my feet and agreed on 'hot spots' to be, she moved to a boot anvil.

The tool looks like and extended 'S' attached to a very heavy base.  She put the boot over the anvil with the pointy rounded part inside against areas she had marked with the tape.  Then she 'massaged' the boot from inside with some slight pounding with a leather mallet where the tape was. Then moved to the next one and so on with the other boot.

I walked out with a pair of the most comfortable boots I have worn right out of the store. I use them with my inserts. Never a blister or injury from them.

You should be able to get a good fit with somebody who understands what kind of a boot that should fit you.  Boots are the main thing to spend more money on.  The boot should fit the types of hiking you will be doing as well as your feet.

Be very careful with mostly fabric shoes/boots. There is a danger that you will tighten the lacing and reduce the toe volume.  You have a risk of getting Morton's neuroma with shoes with little toe room.  Not fun!

6:23 p.m. on July 18, 2012 (EDT)
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I have dealt with Morton's Neuroma over the past year...not fun! At all costs, make sure those piggies don't touch the front or side of the toe-box, even at full spread.

1:44 a.m. on August 4, 2012 (EDT)
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Lacing techniques are a life-saver! If the length is right and the volume has been tweaked with inserts, lacing can really perfect the fit. A simple square knot at your metatarsals (or above wherever you need a looser/tighter section) can segment off the upper part of the lacing system to secure your foot in the heel cup while letting the toe box fit more loosely to reduce pressure on your toes. Good luck.

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