When it comes to the Olympic Weightlifting, there are many many things that need to happen in order for everything to go smoothly.
Be it body position, bar path, or whatever happens to be your malfunction the last thing that should affect your overall performance should be your shoes.
While we all understand the need to move away from big cushiony heeled shoes that is not to say that a lifted hard heel is a bad option.
Now I will warn you that you should stop reading here if your health goals are overall fitness and longevity. You see we are about to enter very sport specific territory and the demands of overall health are not necessarily overlooked but instead considered to the regard that the lifter should live a lifestyle that will allow him/her to continue to lift as much weight as possible and not worry about dying anytime soon.
Now onto the topic at hand!
Generally you will commonly see two athletes wear weightlifting shoes. The Olympic Weightlifter and the Powerlifter. Most recently (Within the past 7 years or so) more CrossFit athletes have started wearing dedicated weightlifting shoes or a hybrid type of weightlifting shoe (While there may be athletes of a variety of disciplines wearing the shoes now, to include all such sports would be an exhaustive list to both produce and read).
Thanks BarBend for a good breakdown of a Oly Shoe!
Weightlifting Shoes are shoes designed with an elevated heel.
The heel can be found to be set as low as .3” - 1”, with the standard being around .75”.
The heel itself is usually made of either wood or plastic.
To provide extra ankle support you might find that straps on top of laces are provided for a more secure feeling.
Without getting too much into the history of weightlifting (That is beyond the context of the article), the shoes were introduced at sometime during the 1960’s - 1970’s.
Those are some old school kicks!
You can spot the shoes in their natural habitat at Olympic Weightlifting gyms, or any strength dedicated gym.
Also very regularly at CrossFit gym and strength and conditioning gym.
Pretty much any gym in the world…
For those who have tight ankles and hips, you might find that weightlifting shoes can help you get your torso more vertical. This would place more emphasis on your quads than on your posterior chain (Not drastically but a tiny bit) and allow you to lift a little more (Since most westerners are quad dominant and weak in the glutes this would give them a small assist). With the shoes generally being a bit more heavier and sturdier than conventional exercises shoes, the athlete generally finds that when performing the olympic lifts, he/she is more secure in the recieving position. This mainly benefits the needs of the olympic weightlifter due to the demands of the sport; however as previously stated athletes of all disciplines have enjoyed the use of weightlifting shoes.
*Side note here - for those with mobility restrictions, while the shoes might solve your limitations for the present, they will not adequately address them. It would be best to fix those restrictions early on before using the shoes.
Should you get a pair?
The answer is YES!...and NO!
If you are looking to increase your general physical capacity at performing daily task, then find yourself a low profile heeled shoe.
If you are looking to increase your strength or get better at performing the olympic lifts then these shoes are not a bad place to start.
See you in class,