/ Knuckling Toe in Climbing Shoes

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timparkin 03 Nov 2019

There's loads of discussion online about not having your shoes too tight and mentions of 'knuckling' big toes etc but I have a pair of Instinct Lace in a 45 compared with my usual 45.5 in my Maestros and my big toe is at about 30 degrees and although I can walk around in them, it's painful to take my weight on the very tip of my shoe. The end of my big toe obviously takes a lot of pressure in a way it hasn't ever before. I bought the shoes tight to get my feet used to a bit tighter shoe

My questions are 

1) What angle do you generally have your big toes at in your shoe (see this photo for what I mean - https://i.ibb.co/2PQWsJY/x.jpg - 0 degrees would be flat - 90 degrees would be the big toe bent at a right angle)

2) Do you have a long, medium or short big toe (i.e. when you are small edging is the weight the end of your big toe, as it would be if you have a long big toe and it was knuckled, or more on the pad at the base of your big toe, as it may be if you had a short big toe)

3) Did it hurt much when you first 'knuckling' in your shoes and/or did the pain fade over a period of time (how long)?

My gut feeling at the moment is that my Instinct Lace's with knuckled toes like this are probably best used on more overhanging climbs where the load is shared across arms and feet more rather than verts and slabs when your standing more on your toes for a longer period. 

I suppose I'm wondering whether I should trade these in get a shoe where I can have flat feet or stick with it and adapt to the discomfort... (I'm climbing about 6c-7a sport indoors). 

Thanks in advance for responses...

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JLS 03 Nov 2019
In reply to timparkin:

Do you have hairy toes? Some toe pain can be down to little hairs on the toes being tugged out. Shaving off any foot hair is a good plan for tight shoes.

I’ve no idea what angle my toe sits at in my lace up Muira, at some angle but I guess it decreases as the shoe stretches a fair bit over time. I notice those Instincts sole isn’t a continuous strip of rubber. I wonder if it provides enough tension from toe to heel to provide good support...

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neilh 04 Nov 2019
In reply to timparkin:

What do your feet tell you after a  day's  climbing?

Modern shoes mean you should not really have to put up with discomfort after breaking them in.

I think the days of ramming yor feet into really tight shoes are well past it.

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timparkin 04 Nov 2019
In reply to neilh:

> What do your feet tell you after a  day's  climbing?

Well they tell me that I can't find a pair of shoes that fit the height of my toes and it seems they are nearly all designed to have your toe pointing down slightly. They tell me it's hard to stand on a small edge on the end of my toe without having  a slightly knuckled toe and yet it hurts a bit when I do stand on a small edge with a knuckled toe. They tell me that the 'fit' is excellent  in  the Instinct but my shoe is confirming to the shape by bending my toe a bit. They tell me that they don't have to be rammed in and  yet can't stretch out until completely flat. 

They also tell me that if the right foot was completely flat, the left one would be a bit baggy (about just under  half a  size difference). 

They're finally  telling me to  ask someone else as they don't have a built in brain and asking me didn't help them in the slightest.

Post edited at 09:08
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timparkin 04 Nov 2019
In reply to JLS:

> Do you have hairy toes? Some toe pain can be down to little hairs on the toes being tugged out. Shaving off any foot hair is a good plan for tight shoes.

No, they're not suffering from that.. 

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timparkin 04 Nov 2019
In reply to JLS:

> I’ve no idea what angle my toe sits at in my lace up Muira, at some angle but I guess it decreases as the shoe stretches a fair bit over time. I notice those Instincts sole isn’t a continuous strip of rubber. I wonder if it provides enough tension from toe to heel to provide good support...

Well it's not stretching so it's definitely keeping tension (I've put in a shoe stretcher and have had them for two months and worn them about 3 times climbing and had then on for six or seven hours indoors)

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Ian Patterson 04 Nov 2019
In reply to timparkin:

At least a bit of knuckling of the toe is pretty normal I would think, particularly in performance boots.  This may feel a bit painful initially until your feet get used to it but most people don't find it in issue longer term.  

I do think that modern boots maybe don't need to be fitted as tight as boots did in the 80s/90s and I am trying to wean myself off super tight boots, but still feel for best performance, particularly on edgy limestone wall climbing I need my boots pretty snug.

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krikoman 04 Nov 2019
In reply to timparkin:

> I suppose I'm wondering whether I should trade these in get a shoe where I can have flat feet or stick with it and adapt to the discomfort... (I'm climbing about 6c-7a sport indoors). 

> Thanks in advance for responses...

My toes are flat, it means I can climb for 6-7 hours at the wall without being crippled.

If you haven't tried shoes that let your toes be flat I would suggest you try some. The days of cramming your feet into shoes that are two or three sizes too small are long in the past I think. Except maybe for people climbing 7Cs and above (which isn't me)

At the end of the day though, it's down to personal choice.

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neilh 04 Nov 2019
In reply to timparkin:

Can you ask your toes. Any issues with damaged toe nails or fungus in the nails?

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teh_mark 04 Nov 2019
In reply to timparkin:

Is the pain in the joint, where it's being pressed into the top of your shoe, or in the tips of your toes? I have a big problem with 'crimped' toes in a lot of shoes, in that I find it excruciating where my big toe joint presses into the top of the shoe in new shoes. It took a lot of searching for a shoe which was tolerable - Miura laces at bearable after a lot of breaking in, and Maestro laces are very good. Anything with less volume at the front, or any 5.10 shoe, is an abject disaster.

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McHeath 04 Nov 2019
In reply to timparkin:

I honestly wouldn't consider anything at your age (sorry!) which is going to to deform the toe joints under great stress and cause you pain to boot. Could be that you could push your grades for a couple of years, but I'm willing to bet that you'd end up with lasting problems. Maybe better in the long run to get pain free shoes and concentrate on good footwork! 😉

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timparkin 04 Nov 2019
In reply to Ian Patterson:

> At least a bit of knuckling of the toe is pretty normal I would think, particularly in performance boots.  This may feel a bit painful initially until your feet get used to it but most people don't find it in issue longer term.  

They're not especially tight -  I can wear them for hours without edging on them. As soon as I edge it's the pressure on the big toe in an odd position. 

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timparkin 04 Nov 2019
In reply to krikoman:

> My toes are flat, it means I can climb for 6-7 hours at the wall without being crippled.

> If you haven't tried shoes that let your toes be flat I would suggest you try some. The days of cramming your feet into shoes that are two or three sizes too small are long in the past I think. Except maybe for people climbing 7Cs and above (which isn't me)

Yes I've got two pairs of Scarpa Maestro and they're very comfortable and I can wear them for hours. I was just playing with something a bit more downturned. I'm sure I can climb as well in the Maestro's beyond my predictable ability for the next decade (which is probably it anyway) 

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timparkin 04 Nov 2019
In reply to teh_mark:

> Is the pain in the joint, where it's being pressed into the top of your shoe, or in the tips of your toes? I have a big problem with 'crimped' toes in a lot of shoes, in that I find it excruciating where my big toe joint presses into the top of the shoe in new shoes. It took a lot of searching for a shoe which was tolerable - Miura laces at bearable after a lot of breaking in, and Maestro laces are very good. Anything with less volume at the front, or any 5.10 shoe, is an abject disaster.

The  painful bit is on the tip of the big toe when small edging with full weight. The pressure on the knuckle is uncomfortable but OK

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timparkin 04 Nov 2019
In reply to McHeath:

> I honestly wouldn't consider anything at your age (sorry!) which is going to to deform the toe joints under great stress and cause you pain to boot. Could be that you could push your grades for a couple of years, but I'm willing to bet that you'd end up with lasting problems. Maybe better in the long run to get pain free shoes and concentrate on good footwork! 😉

I'm very happy with my age and I know where you're coming from. 

My gut feeling says to get something more comfortable that is still a bit downturned... I would have got bigger in the Instinct Lace but the 45 is the max they did and it was comfortable when just worn (not edging). I've seen since that the VSR and normal Instinct go up to larger sizes so I think I'll trade them in and find something else. Thanks for the help!

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timparkin 04 Nov 2019
In reply to neilh:

> Can you ask your toes. Any issues with damaged toe nails or fungus in the nails?

Nothing apart from the usual damage caused by stupidity and the corners of beds in the middle of the night.. 

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