Boot Doctor: Why do my toe nails keep going black?

Q: I always get a black toe nail after a week of skiing. A boot fitter said I had plenty of space so why does this keep happening?

A: Toe pressure is usually caused by the boot being too small or too big. Ideally when the boot fits correctly your toes should comfortably contact the front of the boot. When you flex forward into a ski position, your heel will slide back releasing the toes from the front and giving you wiggle room.

If you have constant pressure on your toes, it is likely you need more volume around the toe box. First ensure you are wearing the correct sock. In a snug boot you should be wearing an ultrathin ski sock with no padding at the toes to give maximum volume.

Having a custom footbed gives you extra length as it supports the arch, not allowing it to collapse and spread in length.
If the boot is still feeling tight the plastic shell can be stretched or ground to create space. The liner may be restricting the toes and this can also be modified.

The boot could be too long and you could be sliding and banging the front. This is common with rental boots. The reaction is to go bigger, but this escalates the problem. Downsizing will give you contact around the foot and not allow you to slide.

If there is space in your boot you have to work harder to control the skis. To take volume out is challenging. Adding a tongue shim to force you back into the heel or wearing a light to medium cushion sock helps.

Terrain, conditions and technique can have an impact on toe pressure. If you habitually get into the back seat, this pulls the toes up into the top of the toe box and will create pressure.

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