Footwear and Elevated Heel Influence on Barbell Back Squat: A Review
Journal of Biomechanical Engineering
The back squat is one of the most effective exercises in strengthening the muscles of the lower extremity. Understanding the impact of footwear has on the biomechanics is imperative for maximizing the exercise training potential, preventing injury, and rehabilitating from injury. This review focuses on how different types of footwear affect the full-body kinematics, joint loads, muscle activity, and ground reaction forces in athletes of varying experience performing the weighted back squat. The literature search was conducted using three databases, and fourteen full-text articles were ultimately included in the review. The majority of these studies demonstrated that the choice of footwear directly impacts kinematics and kinetics. Weightlifting shoes were shown to decrease trunk lean and generate more plantarflexion relative to running shoes and barefoot lifting. Elevating the heel through the use of external squat wedges is popular method during rehabilitation and was shown to provide similar effects to weightlifting shoes. Additional research with a broader array of populations, particularly novice and female weightlifters, should be conducted to generalize the research results to nonathlete populations. Further work is also needed to characterize the specific effects of sole stiffness and heel elevation height on squatting mechanics.
Aaron Michael Pangan and Matthew Leineweber. "Footwear and Elevated Heel Influence on Barbell Back Squat: A Review" Journal of Biomechanical Engineering (2021). https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4050820