Weightlifting shoes are commonly seen in the CrossFit box. But are they necessary? Should they be used? There is a time and a place for them, but they can also become a crutch for athletes. Let me explain…
Lifting shoes are a stiffer shoe with a more elevated heel. For the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk, the stiffness is great to give you a firm, solid base to land on. The elevated heel allows you to get deeper into your squat for a deeper catch when the bar is heavy. Both elements can also assist with your depth and control with overhead squats, especially when heavy.
The problem with them is they can also be a crutch for people who have limited ankle mobility. Lifters can be a great solution to a problem here, but when you are unable to use them in a CrossFit WOD, it becomes problematic for the athlete. For instance, in workouts like Nancy (400m run and Overhead Squats) you need to be able to do overhead squats without wearing lifting shoes.
So when should you wear lifters? In my opinion, they should mainly be worn when working on your Olympic lifts. As I stated earlier, they are a great tool to utilize to improve your Snatch and Clean & Jerk. I don’t have a problem with people wearing them when getting heavy with squats either, such as when working towards a 1RM with back squat, front squat, or overhead squat, but when the weight is light and doing higher repetitions, your goal should be to get your body to be able to perform the movement without them.
Now comes the all important question...what if your ankle mobility is poor and you feel you require them? You need to work on your ankle mobility! If you want to be a better CrossFitter and hit more PRs, improving your ankle mobility will help with that. The longer you continue to rely on lifting shoes when you squat, the more you are going to struggle when you are in a WOD that you cannot wear them for.
Need some ideas on improving ankle mobility, check out the ankle mobility exercises on my YouTube Channel!
Have specific questions about your situation? Email me at email@example.com.