Footwear in various exercises has been a frequent topic of discussion recently at KneeStrength.com. As demonstrated in our article on barefoot running, we are in favour of people learning how to move and exercise barefoot and reduce reliance on shoes with heels and thick shock absorption. However, as we saw in last week’s discussion of the right type of shoe for training, different exercises call for different considerations. For something seemingly simple like calf stretches and sissy squats, you may ask if it is necessary to wear shoes. Here’s our thoughts:
Should you wear shoes for calf-stretches?
Calf stretches are an area where wearing a shoe can be helpful. The added support can help you perform the stretch securely and safely. For instance, when trying to get good pressure of the forefoot against the wall, whilst heavily externally rotating the leg, a shoe enables you to apply more stretch force without hurting the foot.
Remember, in all exercises safety and accuracy are paramount. Where a shoe helps improve effectiveness in an exercise it only makes sense to use this option.
Should you wear shoes for sissy squats?
As for sissy squats, whilst barefoot is fine, this is an exceptional exercise in that it is one where an artificial heel is actually a good thing. By planting your heel on a raised block it enables you to work through a longer range of motion (think starting further away from the wall) and hence provides a greater challenge to the tracking of the patella through a longer range of motion. In this circumstance you could say that wearing a shoe can increases and complements the challenge of the exercise and could therefore be encouraged.