Weightlifting Shoes and Belts
Today I wanted to talk about some things you own, want to own, or see frequently in the gym (and online, on all of the pros): lifting SHOES and BELTS!
What are the benefits, purposes, things you need to know?
Let’s start with lifting shoes. You might see your classmates switch shoes when it’s time to squat, clean, or snatch. Why? Weightlifting shoes have an elevated heel, helping to increase range of motion, as well as keep a vertical torso and shin angles. The elevated heel can increase ankle flexion, which in turn will allow you to keep your chest upright while doing back squats, front squats, cleans, and snatches. Lifting shoes are also typically made of a more supportive material, increasing overall stability and support when performing olympic lifts. You will likely feel more connected to the floor, and like your feet are not going to move around in your shoes at all. Sounds good, right?
Cost. These can be pretty pricey, especially if you’re only using them once a week.
No versatility. You can’t wear these when doing box jumps, double unders, or many other things that we do in CrossFit. You will likely only wear them for the strength portion of class.
They can mask mobility issues. Lifting shoes can act as a band aid – put them on and your ankle mobility issues are gone, and so is your forward lean in your jerk! Unfortunately, the lifting shoes are not fixing these issues, they’re just making you feel like you don’t have them anymore. You don’t want to trick yourself into thinking you don’t still need to work on these things – ankle mobility, hip mobility, and good movement form.
I think a lot of people believe that wearing a belt while lifting (especially deadlifting) will prevent them from getting an injured back. This comes from the idea that you are protecting your lower back with increased intra-abdominal pressure. This helps prevent excessive torso flexion.The good?
A belt can help you both physically and mentally cue that intra-abdominal pressure. It will signal your body to stay tight through your midsection while performing a heavy lift. A belt will likely make you feel more secure and confident, especially if you’re going for that 1 RM you’ve been chasing for months. And that’s not a bad thing!
The not so good?
It can be used as a crutch instead of a tool. When lifting heavy most people just throw on a lifting belt without thinking about it. It is important to build the stability and strength needed to perform these complex lifts. Core work should not be ignored just because you are using a belt. You should be able to be safe, secure, and confident that your own body can support the load you’re lifting. It’s when you get up to 80, 90+% that you might need to use a belt. If you find yourself using one when lifting light loads, it might be time to put some more work into your core strength and stability.
If you have questions about these, or other lifting tools, feel free to reach out! We can talk belts, shoes, knee sleeves, etc. If you love olympic lifting and want to improve your technique, consider making a personal training appointment to practice more than you might get to in class!