Last Update  On March 21, 2012
Weightlifting Shoes And Knee Pain

by Rusi
Weightlifting shoes have been used since the very early stages of Olympic weightlifting. They offer several benefits.

- easier to get a deeper squat with tight ankles;
- more upright back posture;
- stability due to the solid material and sole;
- greater involvement of the quadriceps;
However weightlifting shoes can cause knee pain in certain lifters. Each weightlifting shoes has a heel and at the bottom of the squat the knees travel forward more. In other words the flexion of the knee is greater and that increases the stress on the patella tendon and to some point even the knee ligaments. Some people may experience nagging knee pain. Unfortunately there is not much you can do.

The number one thing to do is to find weightlifting shoes with smaller heels so that the forward travel of the knee is reduced and with that the stress on the joints as well. For general purposes buy the weightlifting shoes with the smallest possible heel. They should be enough.

If that doesn't work you have no option but to stop using weightlifting shoes and stick to hard shoes with much flatter sole. This will distribute the stress more evenly between the quadriceps and the hip extensors (glutes and hamstrings). If you lack the flexibility to perform a deep squat without weightlifting shoes work on your ankles mobility. Overhead squats are quite good for that and so are front squat. Most people will be able to front squat deeper than they can back squat. If you don't know how to front squat you can learn here.

I use flat shoes for all my squats and I can squat pretty deep and have absolutely average or even below flexibility. I've never had a trouble squatting deep. However over my lifting experience I found out that I prefer using weightlifting shoes because the movement just feels shorter and you are able to stay upright. I don't them because even the low weightlifting shoes I have hurt my knees too much. When I use flat shoes the pain disappears.

With that being said most people will be perfectly fine using low heel weightlifting shoes. If you still have knee problems you will have to stay with flat shoes or just push it and see it if your body adapts over time. Just be careful.
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