We had another great question from Katy Zwick regarding personal accessories for training. Aside from headbands, we will cover some useful and useless items.
- Weightlifting shoes- If you perform Olympic Weightlifting then these are something you must have. There is no debate here. When you generate power into the barbell you are exerting force against the ground. The solid heel provides a platform to transfer that energy. Your tennis shoe sole "squishes" and takes away precious power. The elevated heel also compensates for ankle flexibility as well, allowing a deeper and more stable squat position. The lifting shoe will also be more supportive and solid. Wear them once and you will never want to lift in tennis shoes again.
- Compression clothing- Compression clothing can in theory provide more strength by helping the joints and muscles extend. However, too much compression will also inhibit proper joint and muscle function, and affect circulation. Something that covers the lower leg can also help prevent the bar from scraping the skin on the leg. Runners sometimes wear compression to keep blood and fluid from pooling in the lower extremeties. It can also keep you warm. Lastly, there is theory that compression clothing helps with recovery. It's hard to go wrong with compression clothing. Plus you'll look really cool.
- Wraps/Supports- Common joints are the wrist, elbow, knee, and ankle. If you have a nagging injury or irritated joint, wrapping it can certainly help support it and alleviate pain. They can also add support and therefore confidence with a heavy load. The argument against them is that they inhibit the proper activation and strengthing of the joint. Indeed you want the muscles, tendons, and ligaments to continually strengthen. Use appropriately.
- Weigth Belts- This one is also debatable. By wrapping your core muscles with a tight and supportive belt you could possibly "crutch" those muscles from working and getting stronger. However, when you want to attempt an extremely heavy lift and let the legs/hips/back acclimate and adapt to a more stressful weight, the belt can help you by supporting an area of the body that can break down. One popular idea is not to wrap the belt TOO tight and inflate the abdomen against it to create more stability. Again, use appropriately.
- Gloves- Unless you have some kind of skin disorder or really ugly hands, don't wear gloves. No debate here.