Running shoes are built for running, while weightlifting shoes are specially designed to help you get the right posture when lifting weights. It’s that simple!
The alarm goes off. It’s time for that early morning workout.
You down some water, find some fuel to devour, and possibly prep a pre-workout shake like all the cool kids are doing.
Squats and deadlifts are on the menu today. Either way, you are ready to kill it.
So you put on your training clothes and strap on your running shoes. All the while preparing mentally with the rocky training montage song playing in your head.
Stop. Before you go to gym to start moving that weight, we need to fix one mistake that you have already made.
Running shoes? Really?
This is an intervention. We all love and care for you here. But, we need to talk about the choices you are making, how it is hurting you, holding you back from your full potential, and what you could be doing instead.
5 Reasons Running Shoes Are Just Not Cut Out For The Job
I am not a shoeist. I respect all shoes equally. So this doesn’t come from a place of hatred of running shoes, although I may hate running.
It is just the facts. Science based facts. That running shoes and lifting were just not meant to be together.
Just based purely off the structure of the shoe there are more than enough reasons to ditch these kicks when lifting.
Here are 5 solid reasons:
1. Lack Of Support Of The Foot
Lightweight and highly flexible upper provides minimal support of the foot and ankle. Also, it does nothing to help in the department of preventing ankle rolling.
2. The Kryptonite That Makes You Weaker
Running shoes’ cloud-like cushioning provides runners with the spring-like step. This is where the high level of shock absorption comes from.
Because of this the force generated is being absorbed in the sole. Which can be sucking away anywhere from 7%-10% of your strength.
3. Less Stable
When you combine the first two points, you have an extremely unstable shoe. The upper allows for far too much movement of the foot.
The compressible sole leads to movement of the base of the lift each time you move while lifting. This movement is not consistent from compression to compression.
This makes it impossible to have a consistent movement pattern for the lifter’s muscles and joints.
4. Safety Is An Issue
So what happens when you combine all these above issues? You have a safety issue. You are increasing your chances of having an accident or injury during the lift. There is even an issue when your not lifting.
Remember the shoe material is lightweight, thin, and flexible. If a weight or bar drops on your foot it can be as disastrous as if you weren’t wearing a shoe at all.
5. Blunts Proprioception Of The Feet And Ankles
Your feet and ankles have nerves throughout them. When applying different amounts of pressure, this information is sent to the brain.
The brain then processes this information and sends signals to the body. These signals are directions on how the body needs to move in response.
The cushioned soles severely blunt this process because the shoe itself is absorbing the force that would be applied to the feet to send the signals to the brain.
8 Reasons Why Weightlifting Shoes Are The Right Fit For The Gym
I mean…you see it right? Do I have to say it? Okay fine.
They aren’t called weightlifting shoes for nothing. They are made specifically for…you guessed it…lifting weights.
These 8 different aspects of the typical weightlifting shoes are what makes them far superior to running shoes when lifting.
1. Stiff, Inflexible Non-compressible, Flat Sole
The sole of weightlifting shoes consist of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), a hard, durable, and non-compressible material.
This allows for optimal transfer of force from the foot to the ground.
The shoe is also in full contact with the ground and provides a firm, stable base due to the flat sole.
This further ensures that there is no force that is lost between the foot and ground.
2. Strong Traction
The last thing anyone needs is to have their feet sliding underneath them with a couple hundred pounds on their back.
Weightlifting shoes are made to firmly hold their position on the ground on a wide variety of surfaces.
3. Wider Base Of The Sole
The soles of weightlifting shoes are typically a little bit wider than regular athletic shoes, running shoes, or barefeet.
This wider base increases the surface area that is in touch with ground. And decreases the average load for improved stability during the lift.
4. Strong And Durable Upper
The upper is typically made of leather, synthetic leather, and/or polyurethane coated leather. Then there is additional layer of leather or TPU around the heel.
This provides a supportive and stable base for your feet that stops the foot from moving around within the shoe.
This also supports when “spreading the floor” while squatting.
5. Metatarsal Strap
This isn’t some attempt to look cool or velcro for lazy people who don’t want to tie their shoes.
This strap helps secure the foot within the shoe, increases the level of support, reduces movement of the foot, provides stability, and secures the heel into the back of the shoe.
6. Reinforced Heel
The reinforced heel makes sure that the heel is never slipping out the back of the heel. Simultaneously it is providing more durable support.
7. Elevated Heel
The raised heel increases the heel to toe drop and decreases the amount of flexion at the ankle.
This helps by improving movement, mobility, technique, and performance of the squat.
8. Protection For Your Feet
This strong, durable exterior of the weightlifting shoe helps by reducing the damage that a dropped weight or bar on the foot can cause.
You need more evidence? Here are 5 more reasons why weightlifting shoes are better than running shoes for lifting.
5 Reasons Weightlifting Shoes Are Better Than Running Shoes For Lifting
Alright, you get it. Weightlifting shoes are made for weightlifting. Duhhh.
But does it really matter? Like how much can using running shoes really be holding me back or hurting me in the gym?
The answer to that is yes. The shoes you wear can impact the biomechanics, how force is applied to the body, and potential aspects of safety.
Glad you asked.
Here are 5 ways that weightlifting shoes were shown in various studies to outperform running shoes when squatting.
1. Produces Less Ankle Flexion And Foot Segment Angle
The heels of the weightlifting shoes work to decrease the flexion at the ankle. This reduces the level of flexion at the bottom of the squat in comparison to running shoes.
2. More Upright Trunk
When squatting, you want to be able to keep your upper body as upright as possible. This allows for the center of gravity to be maintained and is considered the safest way to squat.
3. Greater Knee Movement And External Knee Rotation
Having the ability to move your knees further forward allows for greater mobility, making reaching depth in the squat easier.
If the knees rotate inward it applies higher levels of tension and force to the knees in a detrimental way.
So having greater external knee rotation allows for an improvement in form, safety, and overall health of the body.
4. Produced Significantly Less Bar And Hip Displacement
During a squat, the bar is supposed to travel straight up and straight down. In the same way, the hips should follow a consistent movement pattern.
Running shoes produce greater displacement of both which is dangerous and can hinder performance.
5. Reduced Shear Stress On The Lower Back
Another major concern is reducing any potential injury or pain from doing squats. Well, weightlifting shoes reduce this shear stress to help avoid any potential issue.
Aren’t There Other Options?
Yes, of course.
If the only thing you get from this article is that you need to ditch the running shoes, basketball shoes, or whatever shoe you wear that has a lot of cushioning, then this is a success.
But you say you don’t want the raised heel or you don’t want to pay the higher price tag for a pair of weightlifting shoes?
Then you need to learn about how flat soled shoes and minimalist barefoot-like shoes impact your lifting as they are your next best options.
Now that we spoke our piece from a place of love and care, do you think you can make the changes necessary in your lifting life? Yeah? Are you going to stop using the running shoes?
Now that this is settled, strap on THE RIGHT shoes for the job, and continue to lift long and prosper.