Rock climbing involves a number of different techniques including smearing, jamming and edging. Smearing is when you press the sole of your shoe into the rock and propel yourself up using only the friction you get from your climbing shoe – click here for the top 10. This can be terrifying but with the right shoes, you can smear your way up a cliff without falling.

What is Jamming in Rock Climbing?

Jamming in rock climbing is a technique whereby you wedge yourself into cracks instead of grabbing onto holds. It requires a lot of practice but once you have mastered the art of jamming, getting up that rock face will be a lot easier. There are not always holds for you to grab onto, however, rocks usually have some cracks for you to slip your foot into to help you push yourself up to your next hold.

When you jam for the first time, you can feel a little uncomfortable, even experience a little pain, but with a lot of practice, it will become second nature to you. Jamming does not involve a lot of effort, in fact, it is all about how you position your body, how you place your foot into the crack or your hand and getting that momentum you need to propel yourself upwards. Practice is the only thing you need to perfect your jamming moves.

Your feet are there to take the pressure off your hands, so look for great footholds to secure yourself and then rest your arms and hands before continuing up. When jamming, especially in the beginning, you need to analyze the rock face you are climbing and look for the best places to get footholds so that you can rest both your hands and your ankles.

Both of these take a lot of strain when jamming and you can easily injure yourself or lose your grip. The only way to make it easier and save your energy is to get a synergy between hand and foot, move in unison with rhythm and you will find jamming is a lot of fun.

What is Edging in Rock Climbing?

Edging is a way of placing your feet on even the smallest of holds and propelling yourself upwards. It is one of the most important aspects of rock climbing, being able to latch onto that small, credit card sized hold foothold and use your feet and legs to give you momentum. When faced with such small footholds, often your whole foot and shoe will not fit onto them.

That means you are going to be climbing on your toes. When you find yourself putting all your pressure on your areas along the edge of your foot, either from the big toe down to your heel or your little toe to your heel you are edging.

How do you Edge?

Edging in Rock ClimbingEdging is a technique that requires not only foot strength but also balance and a lot of practice. There are two types of edging, using the inside edge of your foot from your big toe to your heel and the outside edge which is the opposite side of your foot. The two types of edging are very distinct.

The inside edge is where your power lies, this is when you wedge your inside edge on a foothold and then push yourself upwards to grab onto the next hold. The outside edge of your foot generally tends to be the weaker edge and this is what you use to move quickly along the rock face or to move laterally.

What Shoes are Good for edging?

You will need a shoe that will be ultra-supportive as opposed to slipper-like softer climbing shoes that are downturned. Those kind of shoes are best for smearing rather than edging. You need to be able to stand in your shoe when edging, so the stiff shoes with a flattering shape are the ones that will work the best as they will be able to help you absorb that pressure you will get from trying to stand on the tiniest of footholds while edging.

What is Flagging Rock Climbing?

Flagging is a technique used in rock climbing that allows you to move up the wall using less strength, power or even endurance and much less energy. How do you do this you ask? Well, it is simple, it is all about body position. Flagging is all about planning your route, finding that perfect foothold along the way and placing your body in such a way as to be able to take advantage of it.

It involves some really interesting body positions, leaving one foot or one hand hanging without a foot or hand hold to grab onto and using that hanging foot to counterbalance yourself as you make your next move, allowing you to get a lot greater reach. Flagging can be used on most types of rocks or routes, except maybe on slabs, and will ultimately become one of your go-to moves when climbing.

In order to flag properly, you need to keep your body perfectly balanced, holding with the right hand and keeping your weight on your left foot helps to keep this balance or the other way around. Balancing your body and being acutely aware of your center of gravity is vital.

You need to make use of your body position and balance to get that upward movement and plan your moves strategically. It is not about throwing yourself at a hold, but more placing yourself in a position to grab that hold easily.


Rock climbing is all about technique. Whether it be flagging, smearing, edging or jamming, you need to be able to place your hands, body, and feet in the right positions to enable you to go upwards. Having the right equipment to be able to master these techniques is imperative and one of the most important aspects are your shoes.

About the Author

Hey, I'm Lilly Harvey. If there's two things I'm passionate about in life, it's shoes and writing!

Combining both my passions with my Fashion Design degree, I've helped create Shoe Adviser to help readers choose the best shoes for them, enjoy!

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