To Curl Or Not To Curl: The Role Of Curled Toes In Climbing Shoes
The value climbing shoes has for a climber is clear, but what many new climbers don’t understand is why your toes need to be curled in them, if they even should be curled, and if so, to what extent.
While having curled toes in your climbing shoes sounds strange and uncomfortable at first, once you understand the reasoning behind it, you will realize why it’s important.
Why Are Toes Curled In Climbing Shoes?
Let’s first understand the main point of climbing shoes, which is to provide enhanced support for climbers feet while climbing. Amongst the many benefits, the enhanced support allows them to better stand with their entire weight on very small foot holds, the kind non-climbers would think impossible to stand on.
To stand on such small foot holds, and to lift their weight off from them, either for static movements or dynamic ones, climbers must put a lot of force onto their feet. This is where having curled toes comes in. Having curled toes allows the climber to exert a much higher level of force from their feet, allowing them to stand on such tiny holds, but also to jump off from them to the next hold.
Having curled toes also allows you to better feel the surface you are standing on, giving you a better indication of your foot position, and if you need to make any corrections.
How Curled Should Toes Be In Climbing Shoes?
While having curled toes in climbing shoes can be an advantage, it is important to understand they should not be cramped in the shoes to the point of pain. Doing this could reduce the support and efficiency of the shoes, since it could be too painful to even stand on small foot holds.
The level at which your toes should be curled depends on your climbing level, experience with climbing shoes, and your actual climbing shoes.
Some very aggressive shoes may have a very high level of toe curling in them, while flatter shoes may have the least amount of curl. The goal is to find climbing shoes that fit you, not only in size, but also in general fit.
If you are a new climber, it’s recommended to not start off with very aggressive climbing shoes with very curled toes, but to ease in to it. This will be less painful, more comfortable, and will allow you to get used to the general experience of climbing shoes and climbing with curled toes.
Once you get to a more advanced climbing level, and you become more comfortable in climbing shoes and having your toes curled in them, you can start testing out more aggressive shoes with more curl.
What To Do If My Toes Hurt From Being Curled
As mentioned, it is important to find shoes that match your feet, not only in size, but also in their general fit. If you already have shoes, and you feel like your toes are being curled too much, you can call the shop you bought your shoes from, and ask what they can do. Many times, if the shoes have not really been used, they can replace them for a larger pair. If not, you can try a few methods for breaking in climbing shoes, just make sure that your shoes are the type that actually stretch enough to make a difference.
Your third option is to try to sell them. The issue of buying the wrong shoe size is a very common issue in the climbing community, so people are always buying and selling climbing shoes. It’s very likely that if your shoes are in good condition, or new, and you just have the wrong size, that there will be someone ready to pay close to full price for them, or even full price.