MD Podiatrist Discusses How to Choose Shoes for Weight Lifting

“I’ve heard people call shoes coffins for your feet,” says Dan Michaels, DPM. That may sound a little dramatic, but “when you wear shoes all day, your foot becomes very passive, and the muscles just don’t work as well.” Shoes will obviously protect your feet from rogue weights, but a minimalist shoe can also protect your foot’s rigid structure by giving you just enough cushioning to absorb some of that excess weight when you’re lifting heavy, says Dr. Michaels.
Picking the right shoe is crucial, though. A good strength training shoe should actually make you feel like you’re barefoot, says Michaels. Besides the fact that the footbed will be significantly firmer than a cardio shoe to provide adequate stability, there are two key features to look for: “Number one: a wide toe box. You want to be able to splay your toes out as far as possible, so you can really tap into those intrinsic muscles,” he says. “Number two: zero drop. You don’t want any difference in height between the heel and forefoot, so you’re not leaning forward and putting more pressure on your forefoot, which limits the amount of force you can generate.” (High-level lifters might opt for a shoe with a raised heel to increase their range of motion in a squat.)