Why wear heeled lifters? Why wear heeled lifters?

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Thread: Why wear heeled lifters?

  1. #1
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    Default Why wear heeled lifters?

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    Hey there.
    I'm trying to understand the reasons for heeled lifting shoes and reconcile them with my normally minimalist shoe style.

    In SS Rip mentions that putting your foot up on blocks is bad, but then says lifters can be helpful. So I guess I don't understand why a little heel is ok but more is bad?

    Is the lifted heel just about ankle mobility? If I have great ankle mobility, is there any benefit? What about if I have long femurs, even longer tibia, and a short torso, does that change things?

    I guess my question boils down to: do heeled shoes make lifts feel better because of unchangeable biomechanics, or because they're a crutch to avoid fixing mobility problems?

    I get needing a good power transfer with metatarsal support. It's the heel I'm not sure I understand.

    Sorry for all the questions. I'm a biomedical engineer specializing in foot and ankle surgery to fix all the bad things modern shoes do to us. So needless to say, I spend a near-fetish amount of time thinking about feet.


    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Blocks become dangerous as the weight gets heavier. They can slip, and just getting into position on them can be dangerous.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elle View Post
    In SS Rip mentions that putting your foot up on blocks is bad, but then says lifters can be helpful. So I guess I don't understand why a little heel is ok but more is bad?

    Is the lifted heel just about ankle mobility?
    Per SSBBT 3rd "Weightlifting shoes with a heel height of between 1/2 to 3/4 inches help tilt the shins enough to involve the quads a little more". A bit more quad = a bit more muscle mass engaged in the lift. If the lift under the heel is too high think of what is happening to the key levers of the squat in a low bar position.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elle View Post
    In SS Rip mentions that putting your foot up on blocks is bad, but then says lifters can be helpful. So I guess I don't understand why a little heel is ok but more is bad?
    It's not about it being "too much heel" - it's about the fact that it's not attached to your foot. You don't want to mess around trying to get your heels on a block with a limit set weight on your back.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elle View Post
    Is the lifted heel just about ankle mobility? If I have great ankle mobility, is there any benefit? What about if I have long femurs, even longer tibia, and a short torso, does that change things?
    It can also help with other anthropometric differences. Someone with an extremely closed back angle in the squat might benefit from a raised heel - in the deadlift too. 99% of the time, a raised heel is about assisting with depth in the squat.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elle View Post
    I guess my question boils down to: do heeled shoes make lifts feel better because of unchangeable biomechanics, or because they're a crutch to avoid fixing mobility problems?
    You say "avoid fixing mobility problems" as though they can be fixed. The Achilles tendon does not adapt much. It's too thick to increase extensibility to a significant degree. So unchangeable anatomy would be more accurate to say, but you have the right idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elle View Post
    I spend a near-fetish amount of time thinking about feet.
    Everyone's got their "thing." Probably no one here thinks this is weird.
    Last edited by AndrewLewis; 06-15-2020 at 07:39 AM.

  5. #5
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    I think it might be about more than just the danger factor of things not attached to your foot.

    In the book Rip says "avoid shoes with heels lifted more than 1 inch because... they produce the same problems as using a 2x4 under the heels." (Page 68)
    The problem he mentions (page 58) is "A block under the heels tilts the shin forward
    by lifting the ankles and allowing the knees to move forward without stretching the ankle joints. The shin angle closes the knee angle and causes the hamstring's attachment points on the tibia to move closer to their origin on the pelvis, loosening the muscle a little and thus decreasing the amount of stretch necessary to get to full depth."

    But then he goes on to say that a heel height of 1/2" to 3/4" can provide a little help involving the quads. He says if you need more than that, it's not a flexibility issue it's a form issue.

    I guess I don't understand why what he's described above is bad? Is it because of the reduction in stretch reflex?

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    It is hard to deadlift with a horizontal knee position created by a 1.75 inch lift from a 2x4. The squat would have a similar issue. The knees would be too far forward and the back would be too vertical. You'd essentially be doing a high bar squat with the bar in the low bar position. I've never met or trained anyone who needs more than a 1 inch lift in the heel.

  7. #7
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    Ok. I understand why not a 2" heel. But if a 1/2" heel make a low bar squat more high-barry.... Isn't that not a good thing?

    Is there any benefit to heels other than it making your life easier?
    Or, put more plainly, if I have sufficient mobility to hit depth without a heel, it just doesn't "feel" as nice, is it "better" for me to squat without a heel because of greater posterior chain activation?

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    can anyone recommend a 1/2 heel shoe?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elle View Post
    Ok. I understand why not a 2" heel. But if a 1/2" heel make a low bar squat more high-barry.... Isn't that not a good thing?
    The goal of the low bar squat and why it is used over the high bar or the front squat in Starting Strength is it allows you to maximize the amount of muscle mass and the range of motion used so that we can lift as much weight as possible. You should probably take this question to Rip himself in the MR Questions section but I think all he is saying is there is a benefit to the increased muscle mass involvement that a 1/2 to 3/4 inch heel provides that makes it worthwhile since our goal is to: maximize the amount of muscle mass and the range of motion used so that we can lift as much weight as possible. The fact that it can help certain %'s of the population get to depth easier is a bonus and may be reason enough to wear. If its not useful to you, don't use a heeled shoe.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elle View Post
    Ok. I understand why not a 2" heel. But if a 1/2" heel make a low bar squat more high-barry.... Isn't that not a good thing?
    No. That's why we don't high bar squat or front squat.

    I would say that if you can hit full depth while staying tight and you can find a rigid squat shoe with a metatarsal strap and no heel, that's fine.

    I don't agree with Rip's assertion that the lift is benefitted by more knee musculature with the addition of a heel in an anthropometrically normal human. I think some hip musculature gets taken out as a necessary result.
    Last edited by AndrewLewis; 06-16-2020 at 05:49 PM.

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