I’m sure you’ve noticed some deadlifting shoes having a bit of a heel, or wedge to them. This is a very specific type of deadlift shoe is knows as an Olympic Shoe. It is primarily used for Olympic weightlifters, specifically for their Power Cleans and Overhead Squats.
For an experienced lifter, it can allow for a lower squat stance and drive more power from your legs and hips.
It also aids in keeping your upper body straighter in a lower squat position, giving you a slightly different body position to start with. Most experienced lifters are able to tell the difference between a regular Deadlifting Shoe and an Olympic Shoe. They say it allows for a better performance and alignment.
Having said that, just like most sports, a beginner or even intermediate lifter is recommended to have a flatter sole while gaining fundamentals and strength in movement.
Another thing you may have noticed are the barefoot lifters. Let’s review some of the Deadlift shoe criteria for the soles: thin, flat, and force spread through your entire foot. Well, being barefoot is, to say, the “thinnest” and “flattest” sole you’ll get (since there is none). There would be no extra height for that bar to be lifted, and your foot has full contact with the ground.
To put things into perspective here, a deadlifting shoe could actually be more beneficial than your bare feet. Most deadlifting shoes are listed to only be a few millimeters thick, an unnoticeable height when it comes to barbell distance traveled.
A shoe can also promote force being spread evenly throughout your foot (and floor). The shoe is designed to aid in that – a more controlled method of doing so. Another argument for wearing shoes is safety!
Your dealifting shoes can also be a light layer of protection against dropped weights, stubbing your toes, etc. Plus, most gyms require you to wear shoes while using their facility – for both safety and sanitary reasons.