Mountaineering Training | Underfoot: Using Footbeds

Posted by: | February 02, 2014
Categories: *Mountaineering Fitness & Training

Whether training, or on your next climb, your feet are your Achilles heel.  If you develop blisters, banged up toes, or pain in your feet or joints, the whole process of climbing comes to a grinding halt.  While training for your climb, you’ll put in countless days with heavy weight on your back, countless miles of trail and rough terrain, and many, many hours on your feet.  Taking good care of your feet and giving them proper support  through all of this training can help to minimize a lot of overuse injuries, and leave you feeling better for your upcoming climb.  Get yourself a good pair of orthotics or at least a good supportive footbed for your training footwear and climbing boots.  

Our leg alignment can change dramatically throughout our life, often as a result of changes in the structure of the foot.  These changes in alignment, when you are in the midst of a heavy training load, can leave you with joint pain and a tendency towards persistent overuse injuries that can stick around and have a major impact on your training.  Orthotics are often the best solution for fixing your alignment and keeping those injuries from cropping up.  An orthotist can mold a footbed to help your alignment stay nearer the ideal.  This helps your knees track straighter, joints stack over each other better, and femurs rotate in the hip socket more smoothly.  

Many climbers rent boots for their climb.  While rental boots are well made, high-end brands, they are not broken in to your foot.  A custom orthotic or an aftermarket footbed such as “superfeet” is the best way to make that boot feel as though it has always been on your foot.  With the long days climbing up and down Rainier, or weeks on the glaciers of Denali, that extra comfort and support can be a major boon to enjoying the experience.  

In the last several years, there has been a lot of support for the idea of running in very low support shoes that mimic what it would be like to run barefoot.  While studies do support the idea that this is better for your body when running or walking, the heavy loads that we put on our backs and the stiff to nearly rigid soles of the boots that we wear when training and climbing all demand that we support our feet.  Look into your alignment and footbed needs and find your way to more comfortable climbing and training!

Questions? Comments? Share your thoughts here on the RMI Blog!

An RMI Team descending toward Denali Pass after reaching the summit of Mt. McKinley (Linden Mallory).

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