Vibrams and slightly ingrown toenails

I haven't posted on here for a while, but I'm hoping some other users have experienced my problem and have some insight into a solution.

I used to wear my Vibrams all the time, but I had a recurring problem with all four pairs of my Vibrams and that is that after an hour or two (less time if I'm driving or sitting still) my nail bed on my right big toe gets EXTREMELY painful (though most notably in my Smartwools no matter how many times I invert the heel).  I guess I have a slightly ingrown toenail there that almost never bothers me when I'm not wearing my Vibrams.  As much as I loved wearing my Vibrams, I decided to take a break from them (and the constant pain of that toe) and try out a bunch of the other minimalist footwear out there.  I took to wearing my Merrell Pure Gloves and a pair of Patagonias with the soles removed, as well as a pair of Old Navy corduroy flats that are SO flat they roll in a ball.  It fixed the problem of pain on my big right toe, but a couple months later I realized my back pain had gotten really bad and then I developed sciatica, which I've never had before.  It occurred to me that maybe my minimalist-style "regular" shoes weren't as helpful as I'd thought, so I switched back to my Vibrams outside the office and only wore fast flats in the office (no toe shoes allowed in my office).  Within two days the sciatica was gone and my back pain was GREATLY reduced.  Apparently my body had re-learned bad walking habits without the Vibrams. 

So I decided to deal with the pain and bought a pair of flows in a size bigger than I normally do so I could wear them with toe socks for the winter.  They are by far the most comfortable pair I own, but I have a 45 minute commute and always by the end of my commute, my big right toe is SCREAMING at me in pain.  It really is a very minor ingrown toenail, but even after a pedicure where they remove it, I still end up in pain on that toe.  Has anyone figured out how to overcome this problem before?  I apparently need the Vibrams to be pain-free in my back, but it seems unfair that I have to trade back pain for toe pain.  I want a third option for no pain.


  • I've noticed one of my nails digging in but only during the most intense cardio and plyo workouts.  I would suggest going to an actual podiatrist instead of a pedicurist.  There may be nail in a place that you or the pedicurist cannot see but the podiatrist will get it.  You won't be able to wear VFF's for a couple of days because your toe will be wrapped and need to heal, but in the long run it might be worth it.

    Also, have you considered driving without shoes for the 45 minutes?  It may just be the size of the shoes and your driving style that is imparting extra pressure on your toe.

    And I see you said you still have issues with Flows.  They run smaller... significantly.  I wear a 42 in KSO, 43 in Speed and Bikila's and when I tried on the Flows in 43 they felt smaller than my KSO's.
  • Well, I attempted to remove the ingrown toenail myself.  I mangled my to a little and couldn't wear my Vibrams for two days, however when I was able to put them on again, I found I can now ear them all day without any toe pain.  Yay!
  • I just got back from a week vacation.  I figured my KSOs or Flows would be my daily shoes while on vacation, but threw in my Smartwools last minute for no apparent reason.  My Smartwools have been my worst pair for the toe pain.  They are super comfy for a half hour and then would cause about ten times more toe pain than any other model I have, but I hadn't tried wearing them since I aggressively went after the ingrown toenails.  I tentatively put them on for dinner early in the week, figuring I'd be close enough to the room to go back when they started hurting... only they never did.  I wore them basically non-stop the rest of the week.  Apparently getting rid of the ingrown toenails managed to turn my most painful pair of VFFs into my most comfortable.  I may finally break down and buy them in charcoal as well now.
  • That's awesome to hear.  I was just got a pair of classics and found the pain was getting worse as well.  I dug around in there friday and wore the classics all day yesterday without pain.  ;D
  • I have already ordered a pair of running shoes for work. I wore orthofeet's shoes all day, and had no foot pain. I have plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia and neuropathy, and had no pain all day. The arch support is perfect, much more comfortable than my $400 orthotics. When they came in the mail, I immediately tried them on, couldn't believe when I stood up-- it was heaven!. I have been telling everybody I work with about these shoes.
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