Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of foot heel pain and sadly, there is a tremendous amount of misinformation out there about how to effectively correct the condition.
Endlessly stretching your calf muscles, getting a cortisone shot, or icing with a frozen water bottle might bring you short-term relief, but these remedies aren't addressing the root cause.
I specialize in foot and gait mechanics and I have treated hundreds of cases of plantar fasciitis. My goal is to arm you with the latest knowledge about the condition so that you can return be free of the pain and return to the activities you love.
Before I list the 12 most compelling facts about plantar fasciitis, let's first define plantar fasciitis.
Dr. Angela Walk
The Plantar Fasciitis Doc
Specializing in Foot & Gait Mechanics
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar Fasciitis is the most common cause of foot and heel pain. It involves a break down, or degeneration of the collagen fibers in the plantar fascia, a thick, fibrous band that runs from your heel to your forefoot.
Symptoms include pain at the inside portion of the heel that is worse after prolonged periods of rest and with the first steps in the morning.
The most common causes of plantar fasciitis are wearing footwear that narrows at the toe, a weak foot core, and calf inflexibility.
Plantar fasciitis is already so painful the last thing you want to do is make it worse. Hopefully, these 12 facts will offer insight into the common causes and give you the knowledge you need to help resolve your pain.
Now, let's take a look at 12 surprising facts about plantar fasciitis.
1. Improper Footwear Is The Main Cause of Plantar Fasciitis
Most cases of plantar fasciitis develop as a result of wearing ill-fitting footwear that narrows or tapers at the toe. This damaging feature, along with heel elevation, prevents our feet from functioning normally.
Our feet and toes should spread and splay as we walk and run. If our feet are crowded into shoes with a narrow toe box, our feet begin to weaken. The small intrinsic muscles of our feet (our foot core) will atrophy overtime and sets us up for plantar fasciitis.
I recommend footwear that is widest at the toe, has no elevation of the heel (zero drop) and has a thin sole without heavy cushioning. Find my complete list of Approved Shoes For Plantar Fasciitis here.
2. One In Ten People Will Develop Plantar Fasciitis
It's more common than you might think. It has been determined that about 10% of the population will suffer from plantar fasciitis at some point during their lifetime. That’s a lot of people!
3. Calf Tightness Is A Primary Cause of Plantar Fasciitis
People with plantar fasciitis typically have inflexibility of their calf muscles. This creates difficulty with with dorsiflexion of the ankle. That’s the movement in which the foot is brought toward the shin.
If your calf muscle group is restricted in movement your ankles lose normal mobility during our walking and running gaits.
This leads added stress on parts of the body that were not designed to withstand such pressure, especially the plantar fascia. Overtime, the fascia becomes strained and injury occurs.
3. Plantar Fasciitis Is NOT An Inflammatory Condition
Within the last decade, studies have observed microscopic anatomical changes indicating that plantar fasciitis is due to a non-inflammatory structural breakdown or degeneration of the plantar fascia rather than an inflammatory process.
It is more of a repetitive strain that causes microtears in the soft tissues. Since inflammation plays either a lesser or no role, a review proposed it be renamed plantar fasciosis in light of these newer findings.
4. Age Is A Factor In Plantar Fasciitis
The age group most likely to be struck by Plantar Fasciitis is those between 40-60 years of age. In part, that’s because the tissue in the foot starts losing elasticity as we age!
5. A Weak Foot Core Is A Primary Cause Of Plantar Fasciitis
The smaller muscles of the foot and arch often are weak and contribute to poor foot mechanics. When these muscles are weak, your foot will start to rely too much on surrounding musculature – including the plantar fascia. It's critical to strengthen these weak muscles to truly heal from plantar fasciitis.
6. The Plantar Fascia Ligament Is Incredibly Strong
The plantar fascia ligament can absorb and astounding amount of force. It’s incredible to think about, but during an average day, the total impact your feet absorb is equal to the weight of a fully loaded cement truck!
7. Women Are More Likely To Develop Plantar Fasciitis
Did you know that the average woman walks 3 miles more every day than the average man? That might be why women are four times as likely to experience foot problems than men, or it could be the fact that 9 out of 10 women regularly wear shoes that are too small or have a narrow toe box.
8. Arch Height Is NOT A Factor In Developing Plantar Fasciitis
Most people think flat or fallen arches cause more mechanical issues and contribute to causing PF, however, the studies show that there is NO correlation to the height of your arch and the presence of plantar fasciitis.
It is true that neither flat feet nor high arches absorb impact as well as balanced arches, yet arch height is not the cause of the disorder in most cases.
9. Orthotics Are NOT The Solution
Orthotics have become a mainstay for treating plantar fasciitis. However, orthotics deny our feet the ability to work and function normally and create lazy feet. The muscles of our feet can begin to atrophy and not work as they were designed.
Extra orthotic support can be helpful in the acute phase of care where pain is more severe, but beyond that, they further weaken your foot muscles.
Orthotics are not the answer for resolving foot and gait issues. The solution is strengthening your foot core.
10. Heel Spurs DO NOT Cause Plantar Fasciitis
A common misconception is that heel spurs cause plantar fasciitis. This is simply not true. Cadaveric studies have shown that the plantar fascia is not attached to the heel spur on the bottom of the heel.
In fact, many people have heel spurs without the pain of plantar fasciitis. Thus, the notion that heel spurs cause plantar fasciitis is a myth and is unfounded. Also, plantar fasciitis doesn’t cause the growth of heel spurs.
11. Runners Are More Likely To Have Plantar Fasciitis
You’ve probably heard about the connection between running and plantar fasciitis. Well, here’s why! The impact your feet absorb when you run can be as much as four times your bodyweight!
In fact, plantar fasciitis has been reported to account for about 10% of all injuries that occur in connection with running.
12. Plantar Fasciitis Is Cause For One Million Doctor Visits Per Year
According to the Center for Disease Control for Health Statistics, the pain from plantar fasciitis drives a huge number of people to the doctor’s office annually. That’s no small matter!
Now that you are aware of some of the most compelling facts about plantar fasciitis, let's discuss how it is best treated.
Most cases of plantar fasciitis can be resolved by a few lifestyle changes and a commitment to improving your foot function.
Can I Treat Plantar Fasciitis At Home?
If you have this debilitating condition, here are my top 3 recommendations.
Download my free guide. This is the first step on your PF recovery journey. I show you the exact steps to resolve plantar fasciitis at home.
Take a look at my approved footwear guide. Dr. Angela's Recommended Shoe List and make sure you are not sabotaging your recovery with wearing the wrong shoes.
Because there is a so much misinformation out there about plantar fasciitis, I spend most of my time educating people on what NOT to do.
Most rehabilitation efforts fail because they are relying on cortisone shots, night splints, orthotics, ineffective stretching, thick, cushiony shoes, and rolling on a frozen water bottle.
These methods are either ineffective or just short-term band-aids, and do not provide long-term correction.
In my (6) step free guide, I offer solutions through addressing multiple factors. Improving footwear, identifying areas of weakness in the foot and ankle, and restoring proper foot function.
Dealing with the pain of plantar fasciitis can be life changing--but it doesn’t have to be a life sentence.
By arming yourself with knowledge and taking charge of your healing, you can get back to the activities you love and feel like yourself again.
If you have additional questions about heel pain and plantar fasciitis, don’t hesitate to reach out. I'm here to help get you back on your feet--literally.
Best of Health,
I have written extensively on the topic of plantar fasciitis. Take a look at these other related articles:
Hi, I'm Dr. Angela Walk
I have been involved in the health and wellness industry for over 25 years as a sports chiropractor and foot health coach.
I have written extensively for health publications and I am keenly aware of trends and new developments.
I embrace an active lifestyle combining diet, exercise and healthy choices. By working to inform readers of the options available to them, I hope to improve your health and quality of life.