Deadlifting Shoes can also be known as Weightlifting Shoes or Powerlifting Shoes. There are even some Crossfit Shoes that have similar properties as a Deadlift Shoe but when buying them for use you have to be certain of certain things. And here they are.
These shoes will have a flat, thin, solid sole design to them. The most important reason for a flat, thin sole is so the shoes doesn’t compress underneath you as you lift!
The goal is STABILITY! Stability elicits good posture, which equals power, which results in a greater amount of weight you can lift.
This design is beneficial so you have the greatest amount of contact (surface area) from your foot to the ground. A thin sole also allows you to “feel the floor” a little better while lifting. A flat sole (instead of a raised or varied sole) also decreases the distance you have to lift the loaded barbell. Simply put: the flatter and thinner the sole, the less work you have to do.
Sometimes even a minimal distance, like a fourth of an inch, could make a huge difference when testing your limits. It could also affect the amount of time it takes to raise that bar. This translates to energy you’re spending to get the bar moving or being held up.
These deadlifting shoes will also have a wider toe box, so you can spread the force evenly across your foot. This allows for the maximum force production possible. They will also be lightweight in their construction, and allow for a precise and snug fit. Most, but not all, powerlifting shoes will have a lateral strap (also known as a metatarsal strap), in addition to laces, to secure the shoe to your foot. Lastly, these shoes should have good traction, which is especially important if you like to lift in a wider stance.
To summarize, to look for best shoes look for these features: soles that are flat, thin, and solid. Another dead give-away is a lateral strap across them. You want to make sure this shoe is comfortable and that you can wear them during an entire workout (including exercises outside a deadlift).
What to Avoid
Advice I’m sure you’ve heard before: don’t purchase shoes that are designed for a different activity. A common misunderstanding is that a running shoe is the best all-around athletic shoe.
The reality is, it isn’t! A running shoe is designed for running – an entirely different movement and weight-bearing load (or lack thereof) for squatting or lifting, specifically deadlifting.
Other athletic shoes (i.e. running shoes) have a rounding upwards of the toe and/or heel. This shape was designed for a forward motion, which is not what you’re trying to achieve in deadlifting. Wearing these type of shoes can result in a less stable stance. This could be detrimental in deadlifting, as it might promote you to fall forward during your lifting movement.
It can be difficult to have the proper technique of pressing through your heels when you have extra cushion beneath them, preventing you from fully grounding yourself for powerful movement. Simply put, that heel cushion is limiting your power and ability to lift, since the cushion would be absorbing that force.
You want to avoid a heel (or any part of the shoe) that will compress and deform under heavy loads. If your feet aren’t stable, it can trickle all the way up, affecting your knee alignment, hip and back alignment, and adding stress to your upper body and spine.
To summarize, avoid shoe features such as: a soft/cushion base (aka non-compressible), a varied or thick base, a sole with different focal contact points (aka non-solid sole), an overly tight and constricting shoe, or an overly loose baggy shoe.