Climbing shoes are one of the most important pieces of equipment for any climber, but many beginners may not be aware of the discomfort that comes with wearing new climbing shoes. The question is, is it normal for new climbing shoes to hurt? The short answer is yes, it is normal for new climbing shoes to hurt.
However, there are steps you can take to minimize the discomfort and ensure your climbing experience is as enjoyable as possible. In this guide, we will explore why new climbing shoes can hurt, what you can do to reduce discomfort and answer some frequently asked questions about climbing shoes.
Why do new climbing shoes hurt?
When you first buy a pair of climbing shoes, you might notice that they are tighter and stiffer than your regular shoes. This is because climbing shoes are designed to fit snugly around your feet to provide maximum support and precision when climbing.
The tight fit is essential to ensure that your feet don’t move around inside the shoe, which can cause slipping and make it difficult to balance on small footholds.
However, this tight fit can also cause discomfort and pain, especially when wearing new climbing shoes. The shoes may feel too tight, too stiff, or too constricting, which can lead to blisters, soreness, and even numbness in your toes.
Additionally, the materials used to make climbing shoes, such as leather and synthetic fabrics, can be unforgiving and take time to break in.
How can you reduce discomfort?
While it’s normal for new climbing shoes to hurt, there are steps you can take to minimize discomfort and break in your shoes more quickly.
Tip 1: Wear your climbing shoes around the house
One of the best ways to break in your new climbing shoes is to wear them around the house for short periods. This will help to stretch the materials and mold the shoes to the shape of your feet. You can also wear them while doing simple activities such as watching TV or reading a book.
Tip 2: Use shoe stretchers or a shoe tree
Shoe stretchers are a handy tool for stretching and breaking in new climbing shoes. You can purchase them online or at most shoe stores. Simply insert the shoe stretcher into your climbing shoes and leave them overnight. The shoe stretcher will gently stretch the material and help to break in the shoes more quickly.
If you don’t have a shoe stretcher, you can use a shoe tree instead. A shoe tree is a device that is inserted into your shoes to help them maintain their shape when not in use. You can also use a shoe tree to stretch out your new climbing shoes.
Tip 3: Adjust the laces or straps
If your climbing shoes are hurting in a particular area, such as your toes or heels, try adjusting the laces or straps. You can tighten or loosen them to find the perfect fit and alleviate discomfort.
Tip 4: Wear socks
While it’s not recommended to wear socks when climbing, you can wear them when breaking in your new shoes. Socks will help to cushion your feet and prevent blisters and soreness.
Tip 5: Take breaks
When wearing new climbing shoes, it’s important to take breaks to give your feet a rest. Don’t push yourself too hard, and take off your shoes every 30 minutes to an hour to allow your feet to recover.
How long does it take to break in climbing shoes?
Breaking in climbing shoes can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on how often you wear them and how quickly the materials stretch. The more you wear your shoes, the faster they will break in.
However, it’s important not to overdo it and push yourself too hard, as this can lead to injuries and make the process even longer.
How should climbing shoes fit?
When it comes to climbing shoes, the fit is everything. A good-fitting climbing shoe should feel snug, but not painfully tight. You should be able to wiggle your toes and feel the inside of the shoe without any pinching or discomfort.
The heel should fit snugly, without any slipping or movement, and the arch should be supported. The shoes should also feel stable and precise, allowing you to feel the rock or wall underneath your feet.
It’s worth noting that different brands and models of climbing shoes may fit differently, so it’s important to try on multiple pairs before making a purchase. Additionally, some climbers prefer a tighter fit than others, so it’s important to find a fit that works for your personal preferences and climbing style.
How often should you replace your climbing shoes?
Climbing shoes are subject to a lot of wear and tear, so it’s important to replace them regularly to ensure they are still providing the support and performance you need. However, the frequency of replacement will depend on how often you climb, how hard you climb, and how well you take care of your shoes.
On average, most climbers will need to replace their shoes every 6-12 months, depending on use. If you climb more frequently or harder than average, you may need to replace your shoes more often. Signs that it’s time to replace your shoes include excessive wear and tear on the sole or upper, a loss of performance, or discomfort or pain while climbing.
Can you stretch out climbing shoes?
If your climbing shoes are feeling too tight or uncomfortable, you may be wondering if you can stretch them out. The answer is yes, but it’s important to do so carefully and gradually to avoid damaging the shoes.
One of the best ways to stretch out climbing shoes is to use a shoe stretcher, as mentioned earlier. Alternatively, you can also wear your shoes with thick socks or stuff them with newspaper to help stretch out the materials.
However, it’s important not to overdo it and stretch the shoes too much, as this can cause the shoes to become too loose and lose their performance.
Should you buy climbing shoes online?
Buying climbing shoes online can be convenient, but it’s not always the best option, especially if you’re a beginner. When buying climbing shoes, it’s important to try them on in person to ensure the proper fit and performance. Different brands and models may fit differently, and it’s important to find a pair that works for your individual foot shape and climbing style.
If you do decide to buy climbing shoes online, be sure to read reviews and sizing guides carefully, and consider purchasing from a retailer with a good return policy in case the shoes don’t fit properly.
Related: Do You Wear Socks Under Rock Climbing Shoes?
Frequently asked questions about climbing shoes
- Do climbing shoes stretch out over time?
Yes, climbing shoes will stretch out over time as you wear them. However, the amount of stretch will depend on the materials and how often you wear the shoes.
- Can you wear socks with climbing shoes?
While it’s not recommended to wear socks while climbing, you can wear them when breaking in new shoes to prevent blisters and soreness.
- What size should I buy for climbing shoes?
Climbing shoes should fit snugly, but not painfully tight. It’s important to try on multiple sizes and models to find the perfect fit for your individual foot shape and climbing style.
- How long do climbing shoes last?
On average, most climbers will need to replace their climbing shoes every 6-12 months, depending on use and wear and tear.
- Can you use climbing shoes for other activities?
While climbing shoes are designed specifically for climbing, some people may use them for other activities such as bouldering, indoor rock climbing, or even as casual shoes. However, it’s important to note that climbing shoes are not designed for everyday use and may not provide the same level of comfort or support as other types of shoes.
In conclusion, it’s normal for new climbing shoes to hurt at first, but this discomfort should subside as the shoes break in and conform to your foot shape. It’s important to find a pair of climbing shoes that fit well and provide the support and performance you need for your individual climbing style.
If you’re a beginner, it’s best to try on multiple pairs of shoes in person before making a purchase, and to start with a more comfortable and forgiving shoe until you build up your climbing skills.
Remember, it’s always important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard, as this can lead to injuries and setbacks in your climbing journey. With the right pair of climbing shoes and proper care and maintenance, you can enjoy a safe and successful climbing experience. Happy climbing!