Plantar fasciitis is not caused by a virus in the blood nor is it caused simply by old age, bad shoes or poor luck. Plantar fasciitis is a sign that you have some issue with strength, alignment or movement in your feet and legs.
In terms of what’s causing your specific case if plantar fasciitis everything is relative to your life situation. You may only have slightly high arches and very slightly weak glutes for eg. but if you run ultramarathons it amplifies those issues. The more severe your weaknesses and mis-alignments are, the less tolerance for activity you will have and the more stubborn and sensitive your plantar fasciitis and foot pain will usually be.
Plantar Fasciitis Caused By High Arches
Having high arches means that your feet require more support than those with normal arch height. If your arches aren’t well supported (like especially when you wear jandals or business shoes for eg.) they will be slightly over stretched every time you take a step. Being persistently overstretched is a recipe for plantar fasciitis.
Plantar Fasciitis Caused By Flat Feet
Flat feet are feet with less of their own built in shock absorption, the lack of shock absorption means more repetitive shock to the plantar fascia and more potential for plantar fasciitis & foot pain.
Plantar Fasciitis Caused By Weak Glutes
Your glute muscles stabilise your entire leg and foot when you bear weight running and walking. When the glutes are weak the heel can wobble when you heel strike and the arch can wobble when you bear weight. These little wobbles occur millions of times per year and at high speed so most of us aren’t aware they are happening. Wobbles in the foot are not even good for knee joint and hip joint further up the chain, let alone the poor plantar fascia.
Plantar Fasciitis Caused By Un-rehabilitated Injury
Studies have shown that athletes frequently suffer long term consequences from a simple sprained ankle. The reason for these problems are long standing issues with scar tissue and muscle wasting. This is a glimpse of how rare it is in our culture to undergo a necessary period of rehabilitation after injury. The average sprained ankle actually requires a minimum of 3 months of daily rehabilitation, let alone more significant injuries. The residual weakness left when behind when we don’t do this work is often a major contributor to plantar fasciitis cases.
Plantar Fasciitis Caused By leg Length Discrepancies
If you have a leg length discrepancy you will tend to bear far more weight in one foot than the other when you stand and walk. Making one foot do more than its fair share of the work is a great recipe for plantar fasciitis.
Plantar Fasciitis Caused By Sedentary Lifestyle
Healthy muscle strength and joint mobility are what prevent stress and strain in our feet. Weakness and stiffness through the lower limb increases stress and strain in the feet during active times. The impact of a sedentary lifestyle can be just as great on the foot as it is on the posture of our spines.
Plantar Fasciitis Caused By Weight Gain
The more weight that goes through the heel and arch the more predisposed to strain and pain they become. Untold millions of skinny people have had plantar fasciitis though to be fair. Carrying extra weight is not so much a cause of plantar fasciitis as it is something that can make healing happen a bit more slowly.
Plantar Fasciitis Caused By Occupational Stress
Many people who do certain types of job in certain types of environment find that their occupation is a factor in causing plantar fasciitis. The most classic examples are the baker or the chef who work long hours on a concrete floor.
Plantar Fasciitis Caused By Running/Waling Mileage
One heel strike on concrete is not the end of the world. Ten thousand heel strikes in a day is not even a big issue for the plantar fascia. Thirty thousand heel strikes a day may be a different story however. The more repetitive strain there is on the tissues of the foot the more likely it is that some weakness or imbalance will be exposed. Plantar fasciitis is often and sign that there is some weakness of imbalance that is struggling with our mileage.
Plantar Fasciitis Caused By Footwear Choices
The right footwear can provide significant shock absorption for the plantar fascia in the same way that a boxing glove protects the hands of a boxer. Increased shock absorption reduces the amount of stress in the foot when you walk on concrete. The right footwear can also provide a certain amount of arch support which limits over stretching of the plantar fascia especially if you have flat feet or particularly high arches.
The wrong footwear as well as having limited support and cushioning will also have narrow toes and compress the bones in your feet, this potentially accelerates deformities and the development of scar tissue in the foot.
Plantar Fasciitis Caused By Poor/Inappropriate Exercises Choices
Too much exercise and training on hard ground and you are potentially in trouble, hopefully for obvious reasons. Examples include running marathons on concrete and playing lots of netball on hard courts. Insufficient training and exercises and you may developed weakness in your legs and feet which over time can be even worse than overdoing it.
Tissues that generate stubborn pain are tissues that are suffering. Tissues that are suffering and trying to let you know about it so that you can ‘make changes’. The trick is knowing what the tissues in your feet are trying to bring to your attention. On one level it is most certainly microscopic trauma & scar tissue build up that is being brought to your attention. On another level there are the specific underlying reasons for that trauma occurring that are the real key to change.
Life really is all about movement, even your deepest sleep is a state of perpetual motion, we move or we die.
Without sufficient alignment strength & support in all the relevant areas comfortable movement is impossible long term. If comfortable movement is not possible ir is extremely difficult to have a good quality of health and life. This is really what managing plantar fasciitis is about.
Sometimes we need to temporarily reduce certain types of movement for recovery from plantar fasciitis, other times we need to find new ways to move (like rehab exercises). Sometimes we need treatment and better arch support like custom orthotics. When all is said and done though if we do it all the right way we can often heal into a place that is better than where we started.