There is much debate in the CrossFit community regarding the necessity of weightlifting shoes. Many athletes swear by them and would not dare to think of wearing athletic shoes for weightlifting. There is also a fringe group of individuals that firmly believe wearing any style of “flat” athletic shoes are enough support for lifts. New research in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, further examines this much debated issue, and looks at the biomechanics of using weightlifting shoes on the barbell back squat.
Researchers examined the kinematic differences between weightlifting shoes and traditional running shoes. Twenty-five subjects were studied performing 60% of a 1RM barbell back squat. Results indicated that there was a significant difference between the two types of footwear tested.
- Weightlifting shoes reduced the overall trunk lean. Researchers assert that reducing the trunk lean reduced the amount of stress in the lower back as well.
- Back squats with weightlifting shoes increased the foot segment angle. Researchers point out this may contribute to greater muscle recruitment in the knee extensors.
From this research it is recommended that weightlifting shoes be utilized by athletes who have issues with forward trunk lean, and those with who want to increase knee extensor activation. This research is published ahead of print and more data might be added to this research in the future before printing.
What is your experience with or without weightlifting shoes? Are they necessary for a recreational athlete or should the focus be exclusively on elite lifters? What about for the CrossFit athlete who might perform a variety of movements within a workout that might include weightlifting but also gymnastic style movements as well?