Do I need weightlifting shoes?
When in the gym you may often see individuals in the squat rack or lifting platforms wearing weightlifting shoes or perhaps you saw all the athletes in this year’s Rio 2016 Olympics in the weightlifting events wearing them and wondered why? Generally, in the gym the trainers you will often see individuals wear would be designed for running with a built in “shock absorber” or flexible sole designed for movement. Although, this is great for running and absorbing the force as you take each stride it’s perhaps not the best for weightlifting.
Yes, you can squat or perform weightlifting movements with ordinary trainers the design of a weightlifting shoe might result in better performance and a more comfortable lift. Let’s first take the hard sole of the weightlifting shoe as an example, the hard sole will allow you to generate maximum force through the lift which will be far greater when compared to the lets say “cushiony” sole of the running trainers.
The weightlifting shoes are designed with a raised heel which ranges from shoe to shoe and brand however, the raised heel does have some advantages. Firstly, it provides a greater range of motion at the ankle. Although, mobility work should be promoted for any lifter and any programme the weightlifting shoes will allow you to get into a deeper squat position and improve your overall position at the bottom and keeping your torso more upright which should transfer into a greater squat rather than turning the lift essentially into a “good morning” exercise by not being able to keep the torso upright.
Lastly, some weightlifting shoes are designed with straps. This is advantageous to the lifter as it is designed to keep the foot secure and minimise movement within your shoe to maximise stability and aid in generating force through the movement.
Will I become reliant on my weightlifting shoes?
This could then pose the question of will you become reliant upon the weightlifting shoe? Once you have used the weightlifting shoes for a period of time you will notice the difference and benefits of them through the increased range of movement as mentioned earlier when compared to lifting without them. But the weightlifting shoes should really be used to aid your performance and not cover up the underlying mobility issues you could have if you can’t for example perform a bodyweight squat with good form. This is the same as for example using wrist straps and neglecting grip strength or a gym belt and neglecting torso stability these tools should be used to support performance similar to the use of supplements with a balanced diet.
Therefore, if you are someone who regularly squats or performs Olympic lifting movements such as the clean and jerk or snatch, the use of weightlifting shoes will have an advantageous effect on your performance through aiding a more efficient movement and a more stable secure platform to generate force through when compared to a running shoe.
P.S. If you missed our article about wearing a lifting belt, click here to read it.