Why Use Weightlifting Shoes?
You may have seen people wearing Olympic weightlifting shoes before, but not really understood why. Read on to discover the benefits of these unique, specialised shoes.
One of the most obvious features of Olympic weightlifting shoes is the raised heel. Different brands offer different heights, however, all produce the same benefit.
The position at the bottom of the squat can be quite demanding on ankle flexion. To achieve a good, deep squat position the ankle needs to achieve extreme dorsiflexion (e.g. shin moving closer to the top of the foot). A raised heel reduces the need for such extreme flexion in the ankle, allowing those who have restricted mobility in this area to achieve a deeper squat.
Additionally, the heel raise can allow the lifter to sit in a more upright position. The lifter’s torso can become more vertical, allowing the barbell to closer to the centre of gravity (middle of the body), and thus be making the weight easier to lift.
Olympic weightlifting shoes have quite rigid soles, generally consisting of a thin rubber sole less than half a centimetre thick, with a plastic or wooden heel. This is quite unlike your typical running or training shoe, which will generally have a sole one centimetre thick or more with significant foam and rubber cushioning.
Cushioning is great at absorbing forces, which is why it works so well for running shoes. These shoes absorb the forces as your foot strikes the ground, making it less likely for you to receive an injury. However, when you are partaking in Olympic weightlifting training, this cushioning can hinder your performance. The cushioning will reduce the amount of force you are able to transfer into the ground, thus limiting how much force you can generate in your lift, and as a result how much weight you can successfully lift. The thin, mostly rigid soles of weightlifting shoes allow more optimal force transfer, helping you to lift more weight!
Not only the soles, but the sides and upper surface of weightlifting shoes tend to be more rigid and stable than normal trainers. This increased stability throughout the whole shoe allows for a stable and strong base for the lifter to push into and land in, increasing the potential for strength and power and reducing the risk of injury. Less injury and more successful lifts can allow lifters to continue training and get stronger!
Do I Need to Buy Lifters?
Olympic weightlifting shoes can be a great benefit to your training gear. They offer superior stability in positioning for the Olympic weightlifting movements (Snatch and Clean & Jerk), as well as for lifts such as squats. They are especially useful to individuals who train these movements every week or have decreased ankle mobility. It is still possible to partake in these lifts without Olympic weightlifting shoes, however ultimately these specialised shoes will allow you to get the most out of your training.