October 11, 2022

Are Climbing Shoes Bad for Your Feet? (What We Found)

by Brad

Wearing extremely tight climbing shoes increases the risk of foot damage. You can suffer from short-term and chronic foot problems due to excessively tight climbing shoes. You can prevent foot damage by wearing the proper shoe size.

It is the short answer to the question, are climbing shoes bad for your feet?

We will give you a detailed analysis in this article.


Table of Contents
Are Climbing Shoes Bad For Your Feet
Are Climbing Shoes Bad For Your Feet?

Excessively Tight Climbing Shoes Can Cause Foot Problems

Wearing tight shoes can cause several foot problems.

You can find many research papers giving details of the issues climbers face due to tight climbing shoes.

R.D. McHenry wrote a detailed analysis of the percentage of climbers facing foot issues due to tight climbing shoes.

You can get details of this study from the ScienceDirect website.

You can search for Footwear in Rock Climbing to find this research paper.

They took data from fifty-six climbers.

Out of these fifty-six climbers, fifty-five have been wearing four sizes smaller than their true size. It was the reason for more than ninety percent of climbers facing foot pain.

Wearing traditional shoes of smaller size can cause issues for your feet.

The problem is prominent when you have climbing shoes due to their downturn profile.

The downturn profile will force all the feet’s fingers to fit in a tight place.

The aim is to use all foot fingers to exert force as one. It can increase the climber’s ability to stand on the climbing walls.

It also has a negative side.

The downturn and tight space will put a lot of stress on your feet.

A little stress on your feet can cause severe injury when wearing excessively tight climbing shoes.

What Are the Potential Acute and Chronic Foot Problems and Injuries Related to Wearing Tight Climbing Shoes?

Most climbers think pain is part of their climbing career.

They accept the painful foot issues to get an advantage in the climbing competitions.

Acute pain is not the only concerning thing in sports climbing.

Chronic problems can also haunt climbers for a long time.

One scientific study checked the prevalence of acute and chronic foot issues.

You can check the research paper Orthopedic Problems In Sport Climbing.

This study collected data for muscles, bones, nerves, and skin issues in the climber’s feet.

This scientific study gave us details of the problems that can arise when wearing tight climbing shoes. 

  • Bunions are also known as Hallux Valgus. It is a type of foot deformity. Chronic pressure on the toe causes this issue. A bulge appears near the toe due to bone deformation.
  • Muscle injury due to stress on the toe and top part of the feet.
  • Damage on the nail due to sudden pressure on the toenail. 
  • Bleeding on different parts of the feet and under the toenails due to nail damage.
  • Foot infection due to sweat on the feet and minor skin cracks.
  • Toenail plate damage.
  • Sprains in the Ankles.
  • Nerve pain due to pressure on different nerves.

Some skin diseases like calluses, corns, and blisters can also form due to tight climbing shoes.

You can take precautions when you see these skin issues on your feet.

They can get worse over time if you do not treat them.

Climbing Shoe Tips for Mitigating Potential Issues

Wearing climbing shoes for a long time increases the risk of foot injuries.

Excessively tight climbing shoes can increase the risk of damage.

Regular-fit climbing shoes can also cause some issues.

It is due to the downturn profile of climbing shoes.

A natural-fit climbing shoe has a low downturn profile.

It can increase the risk of damage to a small level.

Wearing climbing shoes with a moderate to aggressive downturn profile increases the risk of damage.

Most climbers may think they can do nothing after getting all the information from the research articles.

It is not true because there are many things you can do to improve the health of your feet.

We will give you three tips to prevent injuries to your feet from climbing shoes. 

1. It Is Advisable to Wear Larger Climbing Shoes

It is evident from research articles that wearing small-sized climbing shoes can increase your chances of injury.

You may think that most scientists recommend wearing larger climbing shoes to prevent foot injury.

It is not true because wearing large shoes does not give you enough grip to hold onto the climbing wall.

Shoes may come off during climbing if they are not tight.

You have a high chance of falling from the climbing wall if your shoe com off suddenly.

You can wear tight shoes.

They should not be too tight as they may give you foot pain.

Beginners should start climbing with their true shoe size.

They can also use shoes with a natural downturn.

It will help them focus on the technique without foot pain.

Medium to advanced-level athletes can wear a few sizes smaller to fit the climbing shoes properly.

It will help them beat other climbers and improve their climbing performance.

When you wear excessively tight shoes, your feet and climbing performance may suffer.

2. When You Are not Climbing, Take off Your Shoes

You can reduce the stress on your feet by limiting the time you wear climbing shoes.

If you are not on the climbing wall, you should not be wearing climbing shoes.

There is no use in wearing climbing shoes when you are taking a break from climbing.

Climbing shoes can put a lot of pressure on your feet because they force your foot fingers into a tight place.

You will save your feet from bacterial and fungal infections if you take off the climbing shoes during breaks.

Most of these infections occur when you keep your feet in sweat for a long time.

More sweat in climbing shoes can also reduce shoe durability.

It will also produce a smell in your shoes.

No one likes people with smelly shoes at the gym.

You may not make social connections at the gym if you do not remove your climbing shoes during breaks.

3. Keep Your Climbing Shoes Clean

It is an obvious tip to improve foot hygiene.

Many climbers ignore it because they are focused on improving their climbing skills.

You can get several benefits from cleaning your climbing shoes regularly.

You can get details of the cleaning methods online.

It is better to check the instruction manual of your climbing shoes on the company website or with the shoes.

Some shoes have a tag to give caring details.

It is better to dry them quickly after cleaning because fungus and bacteria can grow on the climbing shoes fast if you keep them wet for a long time.

You will get a pungent smell from the shoes if bacteria grow on them.

There are many ways to fry your climbing shoes quickly.

You can place them in the air near the sunlight.

On a cloudy day, you can use the air dryer to give it hot air from a distance to get rid of the moisture from the climbing shoes. 

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About the author 

Brad

Brad is a professional climber in the discipline of traditional climbing. He often jokes that he can get a book to read during the long climbs. Of course, it always goes well with a good cup of coffee. Drinking coffee is his safer hobby.

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