Climbers’ Foot Health

Have you gotten into rock climbing lately? Or maybe you’ve been climbing for many years now! Either way, you’ve probably developed stronger muscles you didn’t know you had in your forearms, shoulders, and back. That’s great! Keep up the good work!

On the flip side, you may have noticed the discomfort in your feet. The front part of the shoes in particular has you with cramped toes to fit into the pointed shape. Your foot has to work in a way that is very different from the way they normally do.  While this serves a purpose in being able to use even the smallest rock or crevice to help you balance, it can also cause foot pain and injury.

Many climbers actually do not encounter many foot problems. Depending on foot shape, foot health, and hygiene habits, the problems that you may encounter varies a lot. Some immediate problems you may encounter include: Corns and Calluses, Blisters, Toe or Foot Cramping, Foot Odor, and/or Foot Disease (like warts). Long-term effects can include: Bunions, Sesamoiditis, Stress Fractures, and/or Hammertoes.

Buy the Right Climbing Shoes

Most problems stem from the fact that you are forcing your feet into an awkward shape and then using (mostly) the big toe joint to stabilize and lift you up to your next climbing hold. Your foot needs to act as one point on which to stand on, so your shoes should fit you well. They should be tight, but not so much that they cut off circulation. Also, purchase ones that are comfortable from the start, instead of waiting for them to conform to your feet, since they may never do so. It’s best to get some advice from seasoned climbers, as they will know what shoes may work best for you.

Practice Good Hygiene Habits

Wash your hands and feet before and after the climbs. Some areas of the gym may be shared with outside shoes, which means there’s some cross-contamination there. Then you’re climbing and touching the same holds that other peoples’ shoes were on. Additionally, do not go barefoot in any communal locker room or shower areas. Use flip-flops or other shoes to transition since bacteria, viruses (warts), and fungi (Athlete’s foot) like to grow in moist areas like the floors in locker rooms.

Also, don’t forget to clean your climbing shoes. You can use disinfectant sprays and allow them to fully dry before stashing them in an enclosed space.

Condition and Listen to Your Body

If anything causes you pain or discomfort while climbing, you should stop what you’re doing and come down. Continuing on can make problems more serious. In between climbs, take your climbing shoes off and allow your feet to rest. Spread out the toes and do some foot and ankle stretches to loosen them up.

Do you have pain from rock climbing? Make an appointment with to come see us at The Podiatry Group. Our podiatrists, Dr. Mark E. Reiner, Dr. Michael A. Haughey, Dr. William G. Coates, and Dr. Erik D. Rosenlof can assess your feet and find the right treatment for your pain at our Jonesboro, AR office.