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Footwear When Squatting: Should I Be Wearing Weightlifting Shoes?

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If you have ever watched the movie “Like Mike” you will understand how influential a simple pair of shoe’s can be!

And we must continue to consider the importance of our footwear when thinking of movements like the squat, as we wouldn’t go and run a marathon in a pair of flip flops, nor would we play a game of basketball in roller-skates!

Our feet lay the structural foundation for us before any movement occurs. The foot itself is very flexible and has a great range of motion with over 25 bones across 4 joints, however, when we squat we must instantly increase the stability of the foot. We can do this by creating a naturally ‘arched’ position with the sensation of gripping the ground.

For this reason, we must consider the correct footwear that will support this stable position when squatting. Weightlifting shoes are a great option as they not only provide a rigid base of support, they consist of a non-compressible raised heel, usually somewhere around 25mm. And as research suggests, the foot is able to better maintain a naturally arched position when the heel is raised.

During the movement of the squat, on the descent, our knees come forward over our toes, and it is the amount of anterior translation of our knee that determines the angle at which our torso can remain. Meaning that if we want to maintain a nice upright chest and torso
during our squat, we must allow the knees to travel well over the toes.

Weightlifting shoes work to support this position by elevating the heel and reducing tension in muscles of the calf such as the gastroc, soleus and peroneals, therefore, reducing the reliance of ankle range of motion to enable successful squatting technique.

By keeping the torso more upright, we are also reducing the amount of unnecessary loading through the lower back. While a certain amount of forward lean is wanted at times to maintain balance and complete a successful lift, an upright chest and neutral spine will
prevent us from placing any risk of injury, and reduce the amount of shearing force placed through our lower back. Therefore, if you have ever experienced lower back pain when squatting, you will only benefit from the use of weightlifting shoes.

In a nutshell, weightlifting shoes are a great investment for any level of athlete. Whether you compete in Olympic weightlifting, CrossFit or simply just like to squat, and you want to get stronger, weightlifting shoes have been found to enhance squat technique and increase performance whilst reducing the risk of injury. So if you take your squatting seriously and don’t have a pair yet, go get some!

Coach Jack