Saturday, November 7, 2009

Toenails (or lack thereof)

I am grinning with delight at being able to share with you a strange practice I learned about late last night. Take a look at the feet depicted above. You will notice, if you look closely, that they have no toenails! Long-distance runners - particularly ultramarathoners, who compete in 50- or 100-mile races - often lose toenails that turn black and blue from banging in their shoes, then they grow back misshapen or ingrown. Some just deal with them on a case-by-case basis, but an estimated 5-10% of the 17,000 hardcore runners go to the extreme of having all 10 of their toenails surgically removed! A sports podiatrist explains, “A lot of them look at their toenails as useless appendages, remnants of claws from evolutionary times long ago. I’ve heard them say, ‘Toenails are dead weight.’ ” But they make great souvenirs! I am also giggling at the idea that one of these ultrarunners collected and documented some offending toenails (not all his) and made a necklace that he wears (top photo)! Permanent toenail removal makes perfect sense, especially considering the fact that at 2mm per month, toenails are growing 25% faster than those of our grandparents - possibly due to more protein in our diet.

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