Check out these quick photos we took to demonstrate what happens when you train wearing heeled runners. We used plates here to replicate an elevated heel, like you would find in traditional running shoes.
Using plates (like in these pics) while you squat, is a technique that is commonly used to get lower on squats. As you can see in these images, you can get your knees further forward over your toes by elevating the heel. It's a way of 'cheating' to get past a lack of range of motion in the front of the ankle, so you can go lower. Of course in the body building world there are reasons for doing this. But for the average person, is this really a good idea?
Do you really want to continue to load the tissue and encourage it's lack of range? 99% of all the clients we see need MORE range of motion in their feet and ankle joints. When you wear runners when you train, you are adding to this compensation at the foot, and training the system to continue to use this 'shortcut' loading pattern. While it may help you get lower in the short term, long term it's always better to work on increasing the range of motion, so you can teach the WHOLE system to get there effectively.
Shoes (with an elevated heel) allow you to cheat and perform ranges in motion you might normally not be capable of. We aim to have all clients training barefoot so that we can notice if their heels lift from the ground in a squat, or their big toes can't grip as they move. These small movements have big ramifications in the whole system and if you are wearing shoes, we can't see them!
Of course there are so many other reasons to train barefoot, largely to enhance overall proprioception of your environment, and to encourage more motion at the foot.
Take the shoes off (or get some kickarse barefoot training shoes) and let's see what we are really dealing with!