Talk to any hockey player about their toe nails and you’ll usually find a consensus – they are black and shamefully unsightly, often covered up by women players with dark nail varnish when toes have to be exposed in sandals.
So why are toe nails often black and is there anything you can do about it?
I spoke to Dave Wain, the MD of Carnation footcare, at a recent press launch of a new foot roller product. Arlene Phillips, the choreographer, was there to talk about how to use it and why she is brand ambassador for Carnation.
As I chatted to Dave, who is also a qualified podiatrist, I managed to turn the subject round to hockey (as usual, sometimes I get the feeling I am a hockey bore but I don’t care a jot!) – and black hockey toenails. Bit of a niche subject it must be said, but he seemed to still be awake and actually interested as he is a keen basketball player and understands feet and sport. I wanted to know how hockey players could protect their feet.
He said the ubiquitous black toes were caused by slamming down onto the toe nail inside the shoe as you rapidly change direction. Interestingly, he said it wasn’t inevitable and there are a few things you can do to protect your toes.
He suggested wrapping Carnation animal wool round your toes. It’s a product designed to reduce friction and pressure and Arlene Phillips, the choreographer who was also at the event as the company’s brand ambassador, says she uses the stuff.
Gel toe separators can also help as can Carnation Footcare Ingrowing Toenail Protector (ignore the fact that you don’t need to treat an ingrowing toenail and instead just use it as a gel toenail protector).
Buy larger size astros if you can (not an option I want to choose as my feet are big enough as it is without buying bigger shoes) and this leaves your more room to put padding around your toes.