Why Your Shoes Are The Most Important Factor When It Comes To Plantar Fasciitis...

Updated: Oct 19

Apparently 1 in 10 people will develop some kind of plantar fasciitis in their lifetime! That's 10% of the whole population - CRAZY!

The human body evolved over thousands and thousands of years and so you would think it would have given us the best possible tools for us to walk around on. Humans evolved to become the best natural-born runners of any species on the planet and we all know we need, strong, mobile, active feet to help us run to our best ability.

Back in the days of hunter-gatherers, if you couldn't run, you either starved to death or got eaten. Pretty simple really. We were given big butts, thick achilles tendons, strong, mobile feet for a reason - to make us the best running machines! Evolution was even clever enough to allow humans the ability to naturally sweat to help auto-regulate our temperatures as we stalked our prey, to the point where we would actually run the prey to death.

Fast forward a few thousand years and a lot of us can't walk or run further than 100metres without breaking down. I'm sure evolution didn't suddenly stop working, so WE are obviously doing something wrong. On average, every year, 65-85% of runners get injured - knee pain, heel pain, back pain, torn hamstrings, tight calves, plantar fasciitis etc.

The funny thing is, these injuries only started getting worse once the modern-day running shoe was invented back in the 1970s. Shoe companies started putting all kinds of strange and new technology into their shoes and did an AMAZING job at marketing them to the population. Just look at Nike Air Jordans!!

Over time, shoes have become smaller, thicker, stiffer and are all about fashion, instead of their function. When you go to buy a pair of jeans, you don't get a size too small that stops you from being able to walk normally, do you?? Well, this is exactly what the majority of us are doing with our feet. We cram our toes into small toe boxes that go to a point at the end and then we wear these coffins for the majority of our day, putting all kinds of limitations on our feet. Add in a heel raise, stability control, arch support, cushions, carbon fibre plates - the list goes on and on about all this crazy new technology which does no benefits to us at all. The more technology that is put into a shoe, the more removed our natural feet our taken away from their primary jobs.

The main reason we wear shoes is for protection from the elements. Think about how we protect our eyes from the sun - we wear sunnies! We don't wear blindfolds. Basically, when you wear a shoe with any kind of cushioning or thick soles, you are putting blindfolds on your feet, not sunnies. Our feet are sensory kings and their main job is to send messages up to the brain about the terrain we are walking on, helping the brain work out what kind of posture we need, balance, proprioception and muscle tone for the given task.

Your plantar fascia should only contract at two stages of the walking cycle - as you toe-off and again when you put your foot back on the ground - The fascia stiffens up to help create a rigid structure to support the load as you walk.

Now, take out your running shoe, casual shoe or work shoe and place it on a flat surface. You will probably notice with the majority of shoes, the toe box at the front will be sitting up off the ground. This is known as the "toe spring". This was designed in shoes to "help" you walk along without getting stuck. Most shoes are very stiff and rigid and if they were flat on the ground, you would not be able to fully extend your toes to aid in your walking. So the toe spring basically allows you to continuously rock through the walking motion. BUT, this may seem to help with your walking, however because of this toe spring, your toes are constantly in a state of extension and at no point gets to relax in its natural state of being flat. With this toe extension, it will contract your plantar fascia. Try it for yourself - take your shoes and socks off, standing flat on the ground, just extend your toes and you will feel the bottom off your feet contract. Now try and hold that position for as long as possible - eventually, your toes and plantar will start to fatigue and you will need to rest them. Inside a shoe, they can't rest because the shoe is too rigid to push bac