How to Stretch Climbing Shoes

How to Stretch Climbing Shoes
Rock climbing shoes are to the climber what ballet slippers are to the ballerina. They must fit perfectly for peak performance. Rock climbing shoes need to be tight but if they are too tight they can inhibit your movement and cause pain. Most leather rock shoes will stretch out a bit on their own over time but if you have a pair of new rock shoes that are causing you pain, you don't need to suffer through their first handful of climbs for the right fit. There are a few things you can do to stretch them out before you climb.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Shoe stretcher
  • Shoe stretcher
Step 1
Try on your rock shoes for several minutes and take note of where the most pain is occurring. For many climbers the shoes may not be wide enough near the ball of the foot, or the toes or the heel may pinch. For some they may be just short of the right length.
Step 2
Find a stretcher to use for the shoes. Most outdoor gear shops have these in the back and are happy to help you use them. If you can't find an actual shoe stretcher then rocks can work just fine. Go to a nearby river or place where there are rounded rocks and find one that just barely squeezes into your shoe where you need to stretch it. Let the rock dry before use.
Step 3
Place the shoe stretcher or rock inside the climbing shoe at the spot where you need it to stretch out. It is important to make sure that the object you are using to stretch the shoe is tight against the shoe's inner leather but not so tight that you have to jam it in there with force.
Step 4
Leave the shoe stretcher in longer for a pair of climbing shoes that are lined. Unlined leather shoes always stretch more easily. In general a shoe stretcher should be left in the shoes for 18 to 24 hours.
Step 5
Try on the shoes after a day and see how they fit. You can always stretch the shoe more but you're going to have a hard time making it shrink. Stretch them just a little at a time. You still want your shoes to be snug, but the painful spots should be stretched out just a bit.

Article Written By Naomi Judd

Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.

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