All posts tagged: feet

Sole Searching: The Truth About Tight Climbing Shoes

Foot binding was the Chinese custom of wrapping young girls’ feet painfully tight to prevent growth and maintain a small shoe size. Up until the early 20th century, it was a status symbol, as women who bound their feet could afford to not work in the fields. Binding started between the ages of four and nine, before the foot was fully developed, and consisted of squeezing curled under toes into the sole of the foot until the toes and arch broke. The thought of breaking my feet so I can wear a size four instead of a size eight makes me nauseas, however, for the first three years of my climbing career I forced my feet into climbing shoes that were two sizes too small. Why? Because tight shoes make you climb harder; or rather, that’s what I was told. In retrospect, this practice isn’t really that different from the Chinese tradition – just another culture’s example of the pressure and power of societal competition. When climbing first began, specialized equipment for the sport had …