Heel and Foot Pain (Plantar Fasciitis) - Causes

What makes it likely for someone to develop plantar fasciitis?

You are more likely to injure your plantar fascia in certain situations. For example:

  • If you are on your feet for a lot of the time, or if you do lots of walking, running, standing, etc, when you are not used to it or have previously had a more sedentary lifestyle.
  • If you have recently started exercising on a different surface - for example, running on the road instead of a track.
  • If you have been wearing shoes with poor cushioning or poor arch support.
  • If you are overweight - this will put extra strain on your heel.
  • If there is overuse or sudden stretching of your sole. For example - athletes who increase running intensity or distance; poor technique starting 'off the blocks', etc.
  • If you have a tight Achilles tendon (the big tendon at the bottom of your calf muscles above your heel). This can affect your ability to flex your ankle and make you more likely to damage your plantar fascia.

Plantar fasciitis may be confused with 'policeman's heel' but they are different. Policeman's heel is called plantar calcaneal bursitis - inflammation of the sack of fluid (bursa) under the heel bone (calcaneum). This is not as common as plantar fasciitis.

Often there is no apparent cause for plantar fasciitis, particularly in older people. A common wrong belief is that the pain is due to a bony growth, or 'spur', coming from the heel bone. Many people have a bony spur of the heel bone but not everyone with this develops plantar fasciitis.

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Author:
Dr Nick Imm
Peer Reviewer:
Dr John Cox
Document ID:
4311 (v44)
Last Checked:
24 July 2017
Next Review:
23 July 2020

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Patient Platform Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.