What You Should Know About Rock Climbing Shoes

Jenny L Sanders DPM

The sport of rock climbing has become increasingly popular, especially with the availability of indoor climbing walls. With this increase in popularity, however, there has been a proportional increase in forefoot pain and pathology due to the shoes rock climbers are wearing. Rock climbing shoes are designed to fit snugly, which is where the problem arises.

When you place your foot into a shoe that is two sizes smaller than your measured shoe size, neuromas, ingrown toenails and bunion pain inevitably occur. Even with proper treatment, these problems will not resolve if the shoe is too tight so it is important to educate your patients on appropriate climbing shoe fit and design.

The above image shows two different styles of climbing shoes for the same foot. The one on the left is shorter, narrower and much less adjustable than the one on the right. Not surprisingly, the shoe on the right is much more comfortable than the shoe on the left.

Although we cannot dictate the sports of our patients, we can guide and direct them toward shoes that will minimize harm.

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