Weightlifting shoes (WS) are often used by athletes to facilitate their squat technique; however, the nature of these benefits is not well understood. In this study, the effects of footwear and load on the mechanics of squatting were assessed for 32 participants (age: 25.4 ± 4.4 years; mass 72.87 ± 11.35 kg) grouped by sex and experience. Participants completed loaded and unloaded back squats wearing both WS and athletic shoes (AS). Data were collected utilising a 3D motion capture system synchronised with a force platform and used to calculate kinematic and kinetic descriptors of squatting. For both load conditions, WS gave significantly (P < 0.05) reduced ankle flexion and increased knee flexion than AS, as well as a more upright trunk and greater knee moment for the unloaded condition. In addition, the experienced group experienced a significantly greater increase in knee and hip flexion with WS than the novices when unloaded. These results are consistent with the idea that WS permit a more knee flexed, upright posture during squatting, and provide preliminary evidence that experienced squatters are more able to exploit this effect. Decisions about footwear should recognise the effect of footwear on movement and reflect an athlete's movement capabilities and training objectives.
Keywords: Joint moments; experience; footwear; sex; strength training.