Edging Climbing Technique – Explained Thoroughly

Rock climbing is always about the next big challenge. One splendid experience in this sport is attained by climbing free and without equipment. There are few things as empowering as discovering the natural expressions of rock and ascending them. 

To buoyantly move in a vertical realm, you require intricate ballerina footwork and making the best of the little rocky supports.

The side of your foot, along the big toe, or along the tiny finger, when placed peculiarly on a narrow ledge, can smoothen your tough routes, and conserve your energy by saving your biceps the effort of keeping you pulled up.

Dedicated practice and determination make climbers esteemed to infallibly support themselves on rock shelves as thin as fingers.

What is edging climbing?

On tiny rocky supports, it becomes impossible to gather contact with your whole shoe upon the surface. In such cases, you are required to utilize an edge or tip of your foot that would fit in and support your lower body upon the slope.

The area along your big toe is called the inside edge of your foot and that along your little toe is the outer edge of your foot. In edging, your body weight is focussed on either of these areas as they hold you stable by remaining in contact with the little rocky ledges.

In most cases, the inside edge of your climbing shoe is more favorite to edge because your big toe is strong and agile and is capable of firmly gathering support from ungenerous rocks. If your direction of movement does not allow the use of the inside edge, you utilize the outer edge of your shoe.

What is the edging climbing technique? 

Edging literally means to use the edge of your shoe on a conspicuous step of rock. 

Using your feet 

  • In most circumstances, you will use the inside front edge of your shoe to wedge into a foothold. Your big toe is strong and agile and will offer more support on a narrow footing.
  • By pulling in and pushing down with the inside front of your shoe, your lower body is brought closer to the rock face and your feet can stabilize your weight without straining your arms. After stabilizing on a stand, you can reach for a higher handhold on your vertical ascend and get yourself steady at another step.
  • Reading rock expressions requires skill and practice. Your attentiveness in finding the best breezy route amongst a progression of tiny ledges will render you capable of being an excellent climber.
  • The outer edge of your shoe is better utilized in going laterally along the wall without being stuck in one place for a longer time. This part of your foot is not as strong as the inner edge, so the movement supported on this edge needs to be a series of flashes and rapid steps.
  • Your heels need to be under tension and up in the air in order to apply the adequate pressure on the little area of the foot in contact with the rock. This technique requires foot strength which can be achieved by specific workouts and exercises meant for the same. Your balancing skills need to be perfect to stabilize yourself on a narrow high step.
  • With practice, you’ll be able to swim through rocky irregularities like pros. The handholds and narrow footsteps in the gym are brightly colored and easy to spot but the edges on a real rock are much more inconspicuous. You need alertness and acuity to spot and create possible support amongst the seemingly tiny edges of rock. There is no marked way up a natural rock. You have to visualize the intricacies and label your techniques at the precise spots of opportunity on the rock face. 
  • You tire your arms faster by groping the rock or hanging onto holds. The muscles of your legs are stronger than your arms. Concentrating the weight on your lower limbs will give you an erect, balanced posture that will offer more support and save your energy for the way up. 
  • It is important to practice footwork because utilizing any possible foothold requires accuracy. Without focussed steps, your feet will forever be slipping along the rocks instead of standing upright on them. You have to take light-weighted precise steps.
  • When you climb, concentrate on finding more foot supports than handholds.
  • Keep your feet in line with the rest of your upright body. Try to find footholds in positions that offer you a maximum balanced stance.
  • Take precise, accurate steps, and do not step upon edges with shaky feet. Your feet should be stable in order to stand best on a rock.
  • It is important to keep your heel high while edging, but do not keep it too high. You will not be able to lift your foot off for your next move if your foot is already in its most extended position.

Maintaining Balance

  • When you are going onwards on a natural rock, the handholds will not be aligned within your reach, you’ll have to move and shift in different directions so it will be even more important for you to maintain your balance.
  • To reach for a handhold on one side, you have to technique your approach in order to counter the thrust of the sideways pulling. Otherwise, losing your balance and slipping down could result in a grave injury.
  • Whenever you reach for a handhold on one side, be certain to push the foot on the other side in the opposite direction so that a counter-pressure is created.
  • Keep your body close to the rock face and lean on the rock by rendering it close to as much of your body’s surface area as possible. This will make it possible to use your own body weight as a counterbalancing force.
  • You can also use your hand on the other side to pull in the opposite direction and create a counterforce.

Energy Efficient Climbing 

Edging climbing

Any good vehicle needs an adequately filled fuel tank to complete its journey without hassle. You are no less. It is important to conserve your energy when and where possible by not wasting it on moves that won’t take you higher.

Give thought to your muscles and climb efficiently.

  • Keep your arms straight while climbing. Any bend in your arms would require your muscles to hold the bend. Straight arms will put the effort on the skeleton which is more equipped to handle your weight conservatively.
  • Keep your eyes focussed. Be on a lookout for better holds and supports and rests. It is important to be alert and attentive. Don’t just rely on the chalk marks. Explore better treads to ascend smoothly.
  • Move your hips inward. While keeping your hips squared to the wall can feel stable, it actually pushes your weight away from the rock and puts stress on your muscles. 
  • Keep one hip in contact with and push up against the wall. This will keep you stabilized on your feet. 
  • This will also bring one shoulder close to the rock face and will make it easier for you to grab holds. Your chances of slipping off will fade.
  • Look for rests along the way. Shake off your limbs to release tension. It is important to give rest to your engine. Calm yourself down, lighten your pulse, and begin again refreshed.

Workout techniques to perfect with Edging Climbing

It is good to be best prepared before treading on a tough task. You do not attempt climbing a natural rock without training your moves effectively in the gym. Rock climbing is intuitive when you are practiced, skilled, and adept in techniques. An unprepared attempt at a slope could lead to shaky legs, loss of balance, confusion at a difficult turn, and severe accidents.

Climb the gym handholds, footholds, and master your climbing techniques on their tightropes before heading out in nature. You’ll learn peculiar accurate movements and would tread lightly on all steps.

Learning footwork

There are no rules for the use of the technique in different terrains and expressions. The key is to develop balance and confidence in whichever approach is required at a particular step of the climb. Remember that feet should land lightly on footholds so that your shoe is silent on coming in contact.

You have to learn to decrease the dependence on your arms and increase usage of the ‘pushing-up’ capability of your legs that employ larger muscles, keeping your center of gravity close to the wall and maintaining your balance.

The training should start with edging and smearing while keeping in mind the three points of contact rule. 


This exercise requires good balance, the strength of shoulders and triceps, and great flexibility. 

Press down upon the holds through your hands by using your arm and shoulder muscles in order to lift your body through their support and bring your waist at the level of the holds.

This will enable you to gain access to holds when no holds are approachable by just lifting your feet.


One way to conserve energy on overhang bars is my going through them swiftly. Another is, by moving efficiently. Do not grip the bars tightly when you hang. Be relaxed and find good foot supports to stand yourself upon. 

It is important to stay calm and relax rather than haphazardly climbing the next bar as soon as your muscles tire out.

This exercise puts enormous stress on your muscles to keep working. So don’t stress out and find as many rests as possible along the way. Also, remember to chalk your fingers generously in case you sweat profusely while hanging on.


For stemming, you press your feet against two opposite planes so that your lower body renders the support and stability to your upper body as your hands hold a crevice or hold to offer additional balance. Stemming requires a strong core to remain upright and erect while your body bridges a gap. 

This technique takes the weight off your arms and allows the stronger leg muscles to take charge. The rule of the tripod is the base for stemming. Three of your appendages should always be in contact with the wall surfaces while the fourth one reaches out for the next hold.

Drop knee

In this technique, you put the outer edge of your foot on a foothold and then bend your knee in a downward direction so that your weight shifts closer to the rock face.

This enables you to reach for distant handholds while keeping your feet stable.


For this, you make a bridge between two faces of a rock with the shank of your leg. Then place your foot on a foothold while turning your knee against another hold to provide an adequate hands-free resting position.


After placing the outer edge of your shoe on a foothold, you turn your hip outside towards the wall face so that your hand on the same side has extra access to a longer reach. This allows you to shift your body weight on one side along the climb, so you conserve energy, especially on overhung paths.

Ideal Shoes for Edging Climbing

While most climbers prefer downturned shoes for natural rock climbing, they might not be the perfect choice for the edging climbing technique. Downturned shoes do not have enough contacting surface area with rocky support, which is crucial for edging.

Soft shoes, on the other hand, make it tough to stabilize on edges because they don’t stay firm or grab hold effectively with the edge of the foot. 

Edging Climbing requires shoes that are stiff and flat with excessive frictional patterns to enable them to hold firmly to rocks along foot edges.

They’ll have more points of contact with the edge and apply adequate pressure to stay balanced on even a tiny stair of the rock face.

Take care that your climbing shoes aren’t choked with mud before you step out for that big climb.

Edging climbing is all about taking advantage of the smallest opportunity along the route. Grab on with your feet and reach higher.

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