Myths of Plantar Fasciitis

Myths of Plantar Fasciitis

1. Heel Spurs and Plantar Fasciitis are the same thing.

It is a common misconception that if you have plantar fasciitis you also have heel spurs and vice versa when in fact these are two very distinct conditions and are treated very differently.

First let’s look at the most common of the two, plantar fasciitis (PF). The plantar fascia is a dense connective tissue fanning from the bottom of the heel bone to the base of the toes. PF is a condition where there is damage to the plantar fascia, usually near the point that it attaches to the heel, that is caused by factors that apply excessive strain to the plantar fascia (obesity, overuse, poor foot mechanics, improper footwear…). Most treatments of PF are conservative in nature, including custom orthotics, physiotherapy, activity modification, icing, stretching and rest.

Heel spurs (or calcaneal spur) is a result of calcium deposit at the bottom of the heel above the attachment of the plantar fascia. In most cases, heel spurs do not cause any pain and have no negative effects on a person’s daily life. Many spurs are found during examination of other conditions of the heel or foot (such as PF) and are not that actual cause of the condition itself. Common treatments of painful heel spurs are custom orthotics, accommodative pads, NSAIDs and, in extreme cases, surgery.

2. Minimalist style running will cure or prevent plantar fasciitis.

In the early days of the minimalist running craze a lot of talks was on how minimalist, or barefoot, running was used to cure or prevent plantar fasciitis by strengthening the intrinsic muscles of the feet. Much of these claims were highly anecdotal and did not have any actual scientific claims to back them up. As science caught up to the popularity of minimalist running more and more studies showed that there is no evidence that truly shows how running in minimalist footwear reduces plantar fasciitis or any other musculoskeletal injury.

Craig Payne says it well here.

Everybody will have a unique running style and it much too simplistic to say that a single running method will work for the majority of people.

3. Only athletes get plantar fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis affects most facets of the population. There are many causes of plantar fasciitis and the causes are not just limited to athletic stresses. Poor foot mechanics, improper footwear, overuse, obesity and poor environmental conditions are all factors that can contribute to plantar fasciitis. Almost every person in the population is susceptible to some degree to developing plantar fasciitis so it is important to seek professional footwear and foot care advice that is suited to your activity, employment and lifestyle.

Graham Archer
VP of Pedorthic Services at Kintec

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