should My Toes Be Bent In Climbing Shoes

How should my climbing shoes fit? How tight should my climbing shoes be? How are my toes supposed to be in climbing shoes? Are climbing shoes supposed to hurt? These are some of the most commonly asked questions by climbing novices. 

Indeed, finding the right climbing shoe that fits well, is comfortable and meets your requirements is not so easy a task. There are varieties of climbing shoes to be found that differ in sizes, shapes, construction, fit and a number of other factors. 

In this article, we’ll try to answer some of the aforementioned questions regarding climbing shoes. 

Should my toes be bent in climbing shoes?

The short answer to this question is yes. Even in the basic, beginner-level climbing shoes, your toes will be bent a little so that they just touch the edge of the shoe. Your big toe will be curled down. Initially, this can be a source of discomfort for novice climbers. The solution is to choose a shoe that is comfortable but has a snug fit. 

If we talk about intermediate-level climbing shoes, the toes are still bent, but a little more than beginner shoes. The main rule of the thumb is: all of your toes should be right in the end of the toe box with no dead space. This is what we call a snug fit. Any deviation from this and you’ll suffer in performance. 

Advanced climbing shoes have an aggressively downturned profile. In these shoes, your toes are curled to a significant degree. These shoes are not recommended for beginners, and for a good reason. Because such a curl of the toes can prove to be really uncomfortable, which the beginners are not used to. 

For example, a popular shoe, La Sportiva Miura is a “hammer toe” shoe. While wearing this shoe, your toes are curled abou 25-30 degree down angle. This turns the foot into a claw. In the most aggressive range, your toes can get bent over to almost 90 degrees at the toe knuckle. These shoes are strictly not recommended for beginners. 


Are climbing shoes supposed to hurt your toes?

The simple answer to this is: no.They should be tight enough to make you feel a little uncomfortable at first but they shouldn’t hurt. 

The main rule in this case is : climbing shoes should be snug but not painful. After all, climbing is supposed to be fun. If while climbing your feet constantly hurt and you are having a hard time climbing, then your shoes are too tight. A little discomfort is fine though. 

Are climbing shoes bad for your feet?

Not necessarily. If you are climbing in shoes that are way too tight, then foot problems like bunions, corns etc. can arise. If your feet hit the wall or the ground in such shoes, there is an increased risk of foot injury. 

In summary, climbing shoes are not bad for your feet unless they are worn extremely tight. If you find the right fitting shoe that is snug and comfortable, you can avoid a lot of problems and reduce the risk of foot injury.


Hopefully by now, you have a good idea of how your climbing shoes are supposed to fit. In the end, it all comes down to experience. You have to try out shoes for yourself and see what fits well, what feels sufficiently tight yet comfortable and what meets your requirements of climbing.