Can Weightlifting Shoes Cause Knee Pain?

Answer: Yes, there’s a good chance.

There are so many variables when it comes to knee pain.

Although when it comes to lifting and knee pain, the biggest problem is bad form.

If you perform the lift that’s causing knee pain in normal shoes and the pain is still there, it may not be the lifting shoes at all.

It’s probably your form.

If the pain goes away in normal shoes, then that opens up another can of worms.

Now we’re dealing with a shoe that causes pain that wasn’t happening before.

Although that doesn’t mean throw them away. There are some things we can try first.

First and foremost lets look at the main causes of painful knees.

Reasons and What to Do About Them


Reason #1 – Bad form

Since we’re talking about weightlifting shoes and knee pain, I can only assume you are experiencing pain when performing the squat.

Squats and bad form go hand in hand with knee pain.

Although something you need to know is that squats don’t cause bad knees.

Actually squats are good for knee health…when done properly.

If you’re experiencing knee pain when performing squats, there’s a couple of things that may be causing the problem.

The first thing you should do is check your form without the squat shoes (use sneakers).

If you tend to lean forward and your heels come off the ground, you are in a position for serious knee pain.

Your heel and midfoot should be taking the brunt of the weight, not your forefoot.

If you can’t perform the squat properly without leaning forward, then I’m sorry to say but you will need to lower the weight and fix it asap.

Drop the ego and get the form right first.

This video helped me immensely with my squat. It’s a little long but Chris from Pump Chasers goes into depth on why you should and should not do things.

Reason #2 – Sudden change with the elevated heel

The second reason could be the sudden change in angles.

Weightlifting shoes elevate your heels, which moves your body forward and puts more stress on the knees.

In the above video, Chris explains that you need to feel the weight in the midfoot and heel.

Even if that means lowering the weight a little until you adjust your form.

If the pain came after a couple of sessions using weightlifting shoes, there’s a good chance it’s the shoes.

This is not uncommon.

Does this mean scrap them altogether.

Not necessarily.

You may have to relearn the squat to get use to the different angle and lifting mechanics.

Here’s a video explaining the mechanics and movement differences from flats VS heels.

Reason #3 – Weightlifting shoes may not be for you

The second reason may be the anatomy of your feet, legs and hips.

Your body simply isn’t made for weightlifting shoes.

At the end of the day weightlifting shoes are a tool. And tools don’t necessarily work for everyone.

You may be better off performing squats in flats like Vans, Chuck Taylors, or the Metcons.

They’ve got a flat and wide outsole for stability, and the Chuck Taylors were designed for basketball, so ankle support is there.

It’s certainly a cheaper option and a route to consider if you’re running out of options.

The Key Takeaway


If all else fails, fix your form.

Squats promote knee health, not damage it.

If squats are causing knee problems, there’s a good chance your form is off.

When doing squats, focus on feeling the weight in the heel and midfoot, and your legs parallel to the floor.

Do that and you will not only have better knee health, but also better gains with the perfect technique.

If all else fails.

Talk to a specialist. They can properly examine your knees and provide a viable solution.

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