Climbing shoes being mostly made from rubber usually stretch out during the first several hours of use. While it might be tempting to purchase a pair of shoes that are super tight and hope they stretch out this is actually a bad idea as climbing shoes can cause damage to your feet if too tight.
Why Do I Want Tight Climbing Shoes?
So way back in the 1940-1950 old mountaineers used to climb in larger boots and it wasn’t until pioneers like Joe Brown a British postwar climber started climbing in plimsolls that people started to realize that the tighter the shoe the better you could climb. This is due to less material between your foot and the rock allowing your feet to be more sensitive letting them be placed with precision and technique, instead of the previous unwieldy boots that we’re unable to perform the delicate footwork needed on harder routes.
Dangers of Having Tight Climbing Shoes?
Trying to fit our feet into smaller and smaller shoes in a vain hope it will improvise our climbing is something we have all thought of at least once. Its important for climbers to be aware of the damage climbing shoes can do if you force yourself into an uncomfortably small size.
- Toe Nail Infection – Its no secret that climbers like to keep our toe/hand nails in order to extend time allowed in climbing shoes and maximum crimp space. The downsize of this is we often cut them too short due to our overly tight shoes and this can cause a nasty infection.
- Bunions – A Whopping 54% of climbers suffer from bunions compared to the average of 4% of a regular population bunions are likely caused by our tight shoes and is something to be aware of when thinking of going a size down.
- Hallux rigidus – Is a partial stiffness in your big toe which is usually from overexertion which is something that most climbers are guilty off.
- Calluses and pressure – If your shoes are overly tight it can cause the rubber to rub on certain parts of your skin which in turn creates calluses or pressure points which can be very painful if the shoes are continued to be worn and in some cases long term damage.
- Ankle Weakness – Tight climbing shoes causes your toes to be close together bonded as one unit which makes it incredibly hard for the ankle and foot to absorb the impact of a fall.
Like our hands which we buy all sorts of balm and repair cream for our feet also need looking after in the same way. In order to become a better climbing your feet’s health is not something that you should neglect.
Should I Wear and Aggressive Climbing Shoes?
Most climbers seem to think that an tight pair of aggressive shoes will somehow help their climbing grade. While this might be a popular rumour its something that’s not really true. Like most climbing shoes aggressive shoes are really good at what they are built for which is overhangs. The curvature of the shoe allows your feet to hook on the holds even when at an angle. This means if you have a gym or local crag with lots of overhangs then it might be worth you investing in an aggressive pair of shoes. Otherwise you might find yourself performing much better wearing a pair of natural shoes or somewhere in between with a moderate pair.