Those of us concerned about maintaining a high level of fitness, from weekend warriors to professional athletes, rely on a solid set of core muscles to stabilize the body and allow us to perform at our best. Athletes are attempting to enhance their form to complete this essential activity better.
One of the essential workouts for core strength is the squat! According to renowned strength coach Mark Rippetoe, the squat is an exercise that stimulates those core muscles.
What happens to the feet is a matter of debate. Some believe the feet should be flat on the ground. Others think the heel should be slightly elevated. Those who believe in elevating the heel often choose running or weightlifting shoes — but how can you know if you are wearing the correct footwear for your athletic activity?
Keep reading to learn more about the importance of proper form during squats and wearing appropriate footwear, keep reading! Don’t forget, Midland Sports Rehab and Freeland Sports Rehab physical therapy clinic is here to support you in any way we can. Give us a call to make an appointment if you’d like to learn more about staying safe during athletic activity.
What’s the difference between weightlifting shoes and running shoes?
Running and weightlifting shoes are very different and offer support in varying degrees.
Weightlifting shoes appear to be the better option at first glance. Due to a wider base and structural variations, such as a less flexible midsole, most weightlifting shoes provide lateral stability that running shoes do not. Furthermore, running shoes are cushioned, absorbing energy while you exercise.
During the exercise, the weightlifter aims to redirect as much energy as possible vertically.
We believe that the shape, cushioning, and structure of weightlifting shoes differ from other types of footwear, resulting in a different result when wearing weightlifting shoes.
However, scientific studies can show precisely what kinematic differences will manifest when wearing either type of shoe!
The importance of wearing weightlifting shoes while doing squats
When doing squats, the benefits of weightlifting shoes may be negligible for weekend athletes and non-professionals. It may even be preferable for the newbie to use shoes with a lower heel lift to concentrate on good form. Weightlifting shoes can help strength athletes or powerlifters maintain form during heavy lifting or competition.
Proper form when executing squats will help prevent injury. The study results suggest that the weightlifting shoes promote better form and should then help avoid damage. Athletes at any level of experience can benefit from this aspect of wearing weightlifting shoes while performing squats.
Maintaining proper form during squats
Placing the barbell across the front of your shoulders, right below your neck, is the first step in performing a perfect front squat. Your fingertips should be just outside your shoulder width, underneath the barbell. The point of your elbows should be sharp.
Begin lowering yourself to the floor with your hips and knees, keeping your chest up and your core firm. Continue lowering yourself until your thighs are parallel to the ground, then hold for a few seconds. Return to a standing position by slowly raising yourself on your hips and knees.
The fundamentals of a back squat are the same as a front squat. You move your body in the same motion for both, bending at your hips and knees until your thighs are parallel with the ground and then slowly returning to a standing position. The most significant difference between a front squat and a back squat is how you hold the barbell.
While a front squat requires holding the barbell in front of your shoulders, a back squat requires holding the barbell OVER your shoulders, just behind your neck. One of the most imperative parts of a back squat is making sure the weight is not resting on your neck, as that can lead to neck pain or injury.
Instead, make sure the barbell is held on your shoulders and that you keep your chest up, so your neck doesn’t hunch forward during the squat. Attempting to lift too much weight and accidentally relying on your neck instead of your shoulders could lead to severe injury.
What will proper weightlifting shoes do for me?
A study conducted by three researchers at the University of Northern Colorado observed the differences when fit; college-aged males performed repetitions of squats at 60% of their maximum ability. The study participants randomly switched between running shoes and an unnamed brand of weightlifting shoes.
The researchers observed the range of motion (ROM), trunk displacement, and ankle flexion.
The weightlifting shoes produced less trunk displacement than the running shoes. This means the athletes in the study exhibited less forward lean during the exercise. They were able to redirect the energy upward. The researchers surmised this was due to less stress on the lower back.
The weightlifting shoes produced a difference in peak ankle flexion. This was to be expected due to the lifted position of the heel in weightlifting shoes. It was easier for the study participants to maintain proper squat form during the exercise, with the thighs and hips closer to vertical and less forward lean. The knees more easily moved over the toes, reducing hip flexion and promoting better form and performance!
Call Midland Sports Rehab and Freeland Sports Rehab for professional advice!
Do you want to know more about getting the most out of your squats while also decreasing your risk of injury? Are you wondering if you’re wearing the proper footwear for your athletic activities? Look no further.
Help is here at Midland Sports Rehab and Freeland Sports Rehab Contact our team of physical therapists today with any questions you may have or set up an appointment with one of our movement specialists to improve your lifting technique.