What Causes Plantar Fasciitis Pain

There is about a 10% change you will develop plantar fasciitis pain in your lifetime. Are you at risk? Want to know what causes plantar fasciitis pain? Here are 5 factors that put you at risk.

3 Risk Factors for Plantar Fasciitis Pain

  1. Decreased Ankle ROM
  2. On your feet all day
  3. Obesity

#1 Decreased ankle motion can cause plantar fasciitis

Missing motion in the foot, especially dorsiflexion, can alter walking mechanics and cause extra stress to the plantar fascia. This is a classic “overuse” mechanism that can lead to pain.

This can also lead to reduce motion of the big toe and alter the Windlass Mechanism, which is 50% of the foots job.

Here’s a video on how to improve ankle and toe motion. The front foot is working dorsiflexion, the back foot toe extension.

#2 On your feet all day

Its easy to blame foot type (flat, arched, etc), but usually its TOTAL time on your feet, not your general foot shape.

foot type and plantar fasciitis
foot type may change the treatment, but not the risks

Steps to battle plantar fasciitis if you’re on your feet all day:

  1. Try to rest more
  2. Soft tissue massage to the plantar fascia
  3. Get cushioned insoles (especially if have high arches)
  4. Make the arch stiffer (especially if flatter feet)

We discuss how to we like to treat plantar fasciitis in a previous post.

#3 Obesity is a risk factor for plantar fasciitis

This may be the elephant in the room, but obesity increases your risk factor for plantar fasciitis (and MANY other issues) because

  • Decreased healing ability because of full body inflammation
  • The foot is working harder because of extra weight
  • Low activity tolerance/general fitness
  • Other co-morbidities you may have

If you are heavier and dealing with plantar fasciitis pain, be sure to only exercise to tolerance.

Pain during exercise is okay, general guidelines for pain during exercise are:

  • don’t let pain exceed +2/10 of your baseline; meaning if baseline is 2/10, don’t let it EXCEED 4/10
  • don’t let pain exceed 5/10 on an absolute scale
  • pain should NOT be worse your next exercise session

Summarizing the causes of plantar fasciitis pain

Plantar fasciitis can be pretty painful. The treatment for this condition is “easy,” but managing the causes of plantar fasciitis can be a real challenge. Step 1 is knowing what your risk factors are, then working to reduce those factors. Learn how to treat plantar fasciitis here.