Plantar fasciitis and barefoot running

by admin on April 10, 2010

What is the relationship between barefoot running and plantar fasciitis?

In the research by Liebermann et al published in Nature, in the discussion they made the somewhat remarkable claim that:

“Furthermore, many running shoes have arch supports and stiffened soles that may lead to weaker foot muscles, reducing arch strength. This weakness contributes to excessive pronation and places greater demands on the plantar fascia, which may cause plantar fasciitis.”

As their research results was not about this, you would expect them to cite a reference to back up that claim. Those with an agenda never let a little fact like no one has actually shown that get in their way. They made this up.

There is no evidence that running shoes lead to weaker arch muscles. There is no evidence that weak arch muscles contribute to excessive pronation (in fact weak intrinsic foot muscles actually lead to a high arch supinated foot which is the opposite!). There is no evidence that this even causes plantar fasciitis. There is evidence that foot orthotics actually strengthen muscles and certainly NONE that they weaken muscles! Never let it be said that those with an agenda won’t let a little intellectual dishonesty get in their way!

If we look at Michael Warburton’s review on barefoot running that I totally demolished, he claimed:

“One of the most common chronic injuries in runners is planter fasciitis, or an inflammation of the ligament running along the sole of the foot. There is some evidence that the normally unyielding plantar fascia acts as the support for the medial longitudinal arch, and that strain on the proximal fascial attachment during foot strike leads to plantar fasciitis (Robbins and Hanna, 1987). Barefoot running may induce an adaptation that transfers the impact to the yielding musculature, thus sparing the fascia and accounting for the low incidence of plantar fasciitis in barefoot populations (Robbins and Hanna, 1987).”

He quotes Robbins and Hanna, 1987 as the reference for barefoot running accounting for the lower incidence of plantar fasciitis in barefoot populations – Robbins and Hanna never showed that (they did make that claim up though)! There is NO evidence that there is less plantar fasciitis in barefoot populations. Robbins et al in all their study’s never even did a study on plantar fasciitis, so I do not undertsand how people can use Robbins and Hanna as a reference to back up the claim when thats not what they showed! More intellectual dishonesty!

Then you can read claims on barefoot websites that make claims typically like this:

It stands to reason that if habitually barefoot people don’t experience Plantar Fasciitis while those of us with shoes and arch supports do, there has to be a reason.  That reason is likely that their feet are strong while ours are weak.

How much more intellectual dishonesty are these people capable of? They wonder why so many do not take them seriously and think they are nutters? Come up with the evidence and data if you are going to make such bold statements. I will be the first to change my mind when someone does.

Of all the risk factor studies that have ever been done on plantar fasciitis, NONE of them have linked plantar fasciitis to a weakness of muscles or the use of running shoes. There is not even the tiniest shred of evidence to even suggest that it is. Why are none of the studies finding these factors being claimed for plantar fasciitis? Why are those with an agenda making up these claims for?


Plantar fasciitis is due to too high a load in the plantar fascia that is higher than what the structure can adapt to. A number of risk factors have been shown by the evidence to increase the risk for plantar fasciitis – all of those factors increase the load in the plantar fascia. The treatment of plantar fasciitis involves using strategies to reduce that load and to get the tissues to heal. It does not matter if you run barefoot or not.

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