You’ve probably seen many people wearing Olympic lifting shoes. There are clear benefits that come with wearing them while performing the lifts, and there is also controversy surrounding whether or not they should be worn during other lifts, such as the Deadlift. For the next few paragraphs, we’re going to dive in to the amazing world of shoes.
One of the main differences between Oly shoes and other standard workout shoes is the raised heel. How high the heel is raised in the shoes varies from brand to brand and overall quality of the shoe. The reason for the raised heel is that is allows for more ankle mobility, which in turn allows for a deeper squat position. A deep squat is important in the Olympic lifts because that is where an athlete will usually catch the bar either overhead in a snatch, or on the shoulders in the clean.
The next defining feature of Oly shoes is the hard, flat-bottom soles. With most shoes, you’ll find that the bottoms are generally squishy and have some give to them, which is important to have if you’re running and/or for general comfort when walking. But with Oly shoes, we want the bottoms to be solid and hard to get maximum ground force reaction when we perform the lifts. This also is a reason that most Oly lifts are performed on a wooden board or platform. Back in earlier days, the soles of Oly shoes were even made of wood! That has obviously since changed, but the hard bottoms and reasoning for them have remained the same: increase ground force reaction to maximize output.
The last defining characteristic of the Oly shoe is the straps. It’s simple: the straps help lock down and keep the shoe snug and tight on your foot. An athlete performing Olympic lifts definitely does not want a shoe that’s allowing their foot to move around inside of it. Straps=stability and comfort.
So the big question you need to ask yourself is, “Do I need them?” Well, think of Olympic shoes like golf shoes or bowling shoes. If you play golf every now and then with friends, then you probably won’t go out and purchase a nice pair of golf shoes. But, if you have a hobby for the sport and strive to get better, then you will strongly consider taking advantage of the Olympic shoes benefits.