Saving Your Feet: Foot Care For Climbers

Saving Your Feet: Foot Care For Climbers

Climbers are used to having foot pain, whether it’s from cramming them into high-performance shoes or jamming them in cracks. But, the toe pain becomes more serious once it doesn't disappear within a few hours.

This happens to most beginner climbers because they tend to abuse their feet. Chronic swelling and stiffness in your toe could lead to osteoarthritis and can permanently cramp your climbing performance.

Feet of a rock climber.

source: climbing.co.za

Fortunately, there are ways to keep your feet healthy and in good condition for your next summit. Let us educate you on the tactics used by professional climbers to help their feet stay in shape!

How To Take Care Of Your Feet Before And After Climbing?

Foot care is important no matter what summit you plan on climbing. Climbers who don’t take care of their feet or their shoes experience more injuries and tend to have a harder time performing well when their hands touch those rocks.

Follow these tips, and you'll keep your feet properly aligned and to reduce the chance of climbing feet blisters:

Before Climbing

Before climbing, you need to select the right climbing shoes. Choosing rock shoes is easy, just requires the right shoe based on your skill level and the environment you’re climbing on. Every company uses different sizes and different lasts (molds to give the shoes the final shape).

Some shoes will stretch and fit the form of your feet over time, while others won't. Before shopping for a pair, decide the type of climbing you plan on doing with the shoes.

Then, rest for 4-8 hours, drink water to remain hydrated and spend an afternoon trying on multiple pairs of shoes, while asking the store rep questions on how they perform in real-time climbing situations.

For everyday climbing, you should get shoes that help your toes stay flat. For short routes that require hard face climbing, you need a shoe that keeps your toes tightly tucked together and have a tighter fit.

Color matters as well: If you live in a warmer climate and climb long routes in the sun, we don’t suggest that you buy a dark-colored shoe. Make sure that you cut your toenails before trying a shoe to ensure that they’ll fit you properly.

Post Climbing

After climbing, you should wipe down your feet to keep them moisturized. You can simply use water and a towel to do this or buy feet wipes. Doing so allows you to keep your feet from scarring and obtaining blisters.

Wiping your feet.

source: moneyandlife123.blogspot.hr

When showering, use a pumice stone, emery block or a foot scrub to remove the dead skin on your heels, toes, balls of feet, and between the toes. You want to have a good balance with this, just like you would with your hands.

While your hands need calluses to protect certain areas of your foot, sloughing at least 2-3 times a week can help prevent blisters and corns, which results from pressure and friction on the excess skin. Plus, removing your foot's dead skin helps it heal faster.

Common Feet Problems

Most of the time, you’ll experience feet problems when you’re out climbing. This can be either due to your foot positioning or your inability to treat blisters when they pop up. We’ll show you some of the most common feet problems so that you can keep your feet healthy, strong, and ready for the next climb!

Blisters

Foot blisters, also known as climbers feet, occur due to excessive friction between your sock and your skin. Excessive moisture due to wet conditions or sweaty feet makes your skin softer, which makes it more susceptible to blisters if it's not addressed.

Wearing climbing shoes that are too tight or too small can also cause blisters. Additionally, wearing shoes that allow too much foot movement or has a sloppy fit can cause for blisters as well.

We know that most blisters will pop once you place your shoes back on without trying to treat it. So the best thing to do is to clean your blister beforehand, so it doesn't get infected. Here are a few things that you have to do to address this issue:

  • Dress the blister
  • Reduce friction
  • Reduce pressure
  • Monitor your feet for roof tearing

Foot Placement

Your foot placement is another problem for beginner rock climbers. How you place your foot on the rocks can determine either a successful climb or an unexpected food injury. To fix this, start by

Pulling with your feet takes more energy than pushing and leads to climbers being unable to more strongly and efficiently. These climbers tend to fall off routes and experience major foot discomfort after each completed climbing session.

Climbing foot placement.

source: bouldersuk.com

To fix this issue, you have to push with your legs (they are the strongest muscle in your body). Doing so allows you to preserve your arm energy for sessions that require their strength. Always utilize your legs to initiate the climbing movement and go for an upward motion to ensure that your climbing summit is a success.

How To Properly Wash Your Rock Climbing Shoes

Cleaning climbing shoes are easy and will help enhance their lifespan. By keeping them clean, you ensure that your feet will stay protected and secure for future climbs. Follow these tips to help clean your shoes and keep them in good condition:

  • After climbing, rub the rands and soles with a wet rag. Make sure remove as much dirt as possible. After that, wipe them dry and wait 24-48 hours before using them.
  • To maintain performance, gently use a wire brush or coarse sandpaper on areas that have lost their grip; this can cause for shoe wear, so be careful on which spots you intend to treat.
  • Don’t leave your shoes in areas above room temperature (ex. hot car etc.). The high temperature will melt glue, delaminate rands and deform rubber.

Conclusion

To conclude, climbing foot care is a needed skill no matter if you’re a beginner or a veteran climber. Foot injuries happen, and you need to prepare your feet for each climb in order to minimize the risk. Remember to keep your feet safe so that you can continue to have fun climbing!

Resources:
NCBI
Dundee

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