October 12, 2022

Can You Rock Climb Barefoot? Advantages and Disadvantages

by Brad

Most climbing gyms do not allow you to climb barefoot.

It is possible to climb barefoot because your feet can provide enough resistance to stand on the holds.

Climbing gyms made it mandatory to bring your climbing shoes or rent one before climbing.

Management of the climbing gym thinks it increases the chances of slipping and injury because climbing shoes prevent slipping.

If you wonder can you rock climb barefoot, we will give you a detailed analysis to make your decision.


Table of Contents
Can You Rock Climb Barefoot
Can You Rock Climb Barefoot? Advantages and Disadvantages

Why Is Rock Climbing Barefoot Discouraged?

Most experts discourage barefoot climbing because you will not use the full strength of your legs during climbing. It will force you to use more force from your arms. This technique can burn out your arms quickly. It is hard to perform better during climbing in this way.

Some climbers think it is insane to climb barefoot because you increase the chances of injury to your feet.

You may not feel it in the climbing gym because the holds are not sharp.

When you climb rocks outdoors, it becomes evident soon.

Most rock climbers go long distances to find the most challenging rocks to climb with minimum precautions.

Still, they select climbing shoes.

There must be something that is forcing them to use these shoes instead of going barefoot.

Another reason to use climbing shoes is their usability.

Expert climbers designed these shoes to enhance their climbing abilities.

Not using climbing shoes can prevent you from using years of experience from expert climbers.

You can stand and balance all your body weight in a small area with the help of climbing shoes.

Doing this barefoot will damage your skin and put stress on your muscles.

It is similar to fighting blindfolded because you are not using all your gear.

Climbing Barefoot Will Put You in Danger

Performance enhancement is not the only benefit of climbing shoes.

Climbing shoes will protect your feet from injuries during climbing.

You can experience pain when standing on a pointy hold without climbing shoes.

Discomfort is one aspect of the equation.

You can injure your feet during barefoot climbing.

Some of the most common foot injuries due to barefoot climbing are on this list.

  • The toenail can suffer damage. It can come off in some severe cases
  • A cut due to a sharp hold tearing the upper layer of your skin
  • Putting more pressure on the toes causes muscle damage
  • Foot muscle injury due to unnatural foot movement
  • Striking your toe on the climbing wall accidentally

It is not the entire list of injuries that can occur due to barefoot climbing.

You can show the climber this list of injuries when he asks can you rock climb barefoot.

You should not forget that your feet produce sweat during climbing to reduce friction between your feet and the hold.

You can solve this problem with your hands using climbing powder.

You cannot do the same for your feet.

You may fall from the climbing wall more often.

An unexpected fall can cause more severe injuries if you do not control it accurately.

Climbing Barefoot Can Spread Feet-Related Diseases

One of the reasons to avoid climbing barefoot is feet can spread diseases due to the unhygienic nature of the skin on the feet.

Most people think climbers have an excellent hygiene routine because they want to prevent diseases on their feet.

People will not think the same when you climb barefoot.

The feet are not the prettiest part of the human body.

It is unsuitable for showing them to everyone at the gym or on the outdoor climbing wall.

Feet can also produce a smell when you take off your climbing shoes.

It is due to a high concentration of bacteria on your feet.

Bacteria can grow quickly due to the moist and warm environment of your feet.

You may lose your climbing gym friends when they find out you are spreading your toenail fungal disease to others in the climbing gym.

Are There Benefits of Climbing Barefoot?

Most climbers think that barefoot climbing does not have any benefits.

It is not true because you can have many physical and mental benefits from barefoot climbing.

One of the reasons climbers think about barefoot climbing is the cost of the climbing shoes.

We will discuss all these aspects in detail to help you choose the best option.

Potential Mental Benefits

Most people are not concerned about the physical and monetary benefits of climbing barefoot.

They want to get the mental benefits from this sport.

Some believe climbing barefoot can give you many spiritual benefits also.

You can change your view of climbing by going to the climbing wall without climbing shoes.

Climbers can connect with nature when their feet touch the rocks and vegetation.

It can help you treat anxiety and stress because your body will absorb positive energy from nature.

It is similar to walking barefoot on the grass as it will give you healing effects.

Potential Physical Benefits

When you climb with climbing shoes, you only train the muscles of your hands and forearms.

Most feet muscles do not face physical stress because the stiff nature of the climbing shoes prevents their use.

It also has a downside: you do not develop muscles on your feet and toes.

You need high-strength ligaments also to reduce the chances of injury during climbing.

Ligaments are responsible for connecting the muscles to the bonds.

Strong ligaments will ensure you do not injure your muscles during climbing.

You will also develop a thick upper skin layer when you climb barefoot.

It will prevent discomfort when climbing barefoot.

We can say climbing barefoot has some physical advantages because your body develops resistance to stress over time to allow you to climb without climbing shoes.

Potential Monetary Benefits

Many climbers do not buy climbing shoes from famous brands because of the high price of these climbing shoes.

It can prevent climbers from enjoying this sport.

Some do not start climbing when they hear about the price of climbing shoes.

Removing this barrier can allow more people to enter this sport.

You can reduce the cost of climbing when you choose to climb barefoot. It will save a lot of money because you do not have to worry about buying new climbing shoes and replacing the old ones.

You do not need to spend money to resole your shoes or repair them when you decide to go barefoot.

It may also give you peace of mind because you do not have to care for climbing shoes.

Who Are the Successful Barefoot Climbers?

Many of us do not select barefoot rock climbing because we do not know any climbers who have a successful career without climbing shoes.

We can take the example of Vu Nguyen. He is a climber from Vietnam.

According to Vu, he loves climbing barefoot because he can feel the details beneath his feet during climbing.

It allows him to connect with nature.

He climbed a route of 5.14 difficulty level without climbing shoes.

It is an incredible act, and many can follow him on the same path.

He is not the only barefoot climber with a successful career.

Charles Albert is also at the top of the list.

He climbed V15 and V16 climbing walls without climbing shoes.

It is evident that he is an expert because he climbed the V17 grade climbing wall recently.

5 Techniques to Use If You Are Rock Climbing Barefoot

We compiled a list of tips after watching the tutorials and climbing videos from expert barefoot climbers.

You can follow these techniques to climb the most difficult climbing walls without injuring your feet.

  1. Apply climbing chalk to your feet. You should apply chalk to your feet because they produce sweat during climbing.
  2. Start climbing the journey from the beginning. You can learn barefoot climbing from the beginning because previous climbing techniques may not help you much.
  3. Use your heel to balance weight. You can put most of your weight on the heels to push your body toward the top.
  4. Grip with the big toe. Using a big toe to grip different holds will increase the toe muscle strength.
  5. Toes can grab overhangs. Climbing overhang walls is challenging. You can develop the toe’s strength to make it easy.

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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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