11 Heel-ish Causes of Plantar Fasciitis

Experiencing pain near your heel? Notice that it’s often worse in the morning? You (and millions of other people) might be experiencing a condition known as plantar fasciitis.

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis, or policeman’s heel, is an inflammation of the tissue (plantar fascia) that connects the heel bone to the toes. This connective tissue is vital for the structural integrity and function of the foot. As such, this condition can result in reduced mobility and lower quality of life.

So, just what causes this condition? Unfortunately, one risk factor is beyond our control… 

11. Age

Mature woman suffering from pain in leg at home

Age increases a person’s risk for plantar fasciitis for a variety of reasons. As we get older, the body loses some of the elasticity it had in youth; elasticity and flexibility help stave off inflammation seen in conditions like policeman’s heel. The body also becomes slower to heal after an injury, which can also lead to this condition. These changes, in addition to the increased accumulation of other risk factors, lead to higher cases of plantar fasciitis as we age. 

The highest rate of plantar fasciitis occurs in people between ages 45 to 64. However, you don’t have to be in this age group to be at risk for this condition if you have the following physical feature…

10. Flat Feet

An advanced flat feet (pes planus or fallen arches) medical condition

Flat feet means the soles of the feet completely touch the ground. This condition can start in childhood if the arches fail to develop properly or be caused later in life by an injury or through regular wear and tear. 

Why It Increases Plantar Fasciitis Risk

We rely on a properly formed arch to support the weight of the body while standing, running, and doing other movements. A flattened arch, though, fails to support the body throughout the day. This lack of support can damage the connective tissue on the bottom of the foot, leading to inflammation. 

Of course, having too high arches can also create problems…

9. High Arches

Foot prints with little round toes in the sand.

High arches are the polar opposite of flat feet. Also known as cavus feet, this condition is when the arch of the foot is too high. This condition is normally inherited at birth, although it can form later in life. 

Why It Increases Plantar Fasciitis Risk

High arches do not distribute body weight evenly over the foot. Instead, they place all of the body’s weight on the heels and toes. Like flat feet, this pressure puts the connective tissue of the foot under strain, leading to plantar fasciitis. 

While inherited conditions can cause plantar fasciitis, so too can behaviors…

8. How You Walk

A close up shot of a person's feet while they are walking on pavement
Creaturart Images/Shutterstock.com

Walking might seem like one of the most simple activities we do, but there are right and wrong ways to go about it. When you have an improper walking form, you could be placing excess strain on the plantar fascia. One potential result of this excessive straining is an inflammation of this tissue (aka plantar fasciitis).

Why It Increases Plantar Fasciitis Risk

When you walk, think about how your foot lands and where the weight goes. If you land with all of your weight on your heel, you could be risking plantar fasciitis. The proper way to walk is to try to land the heel and the balls of the toes at nearly the same time, with most of the weight on the heel and the rest on the balls of the toes.

Of course, walking isn’t the only physical activity that can put you at increased risk for experiencing policeman’s heel… 

7. Certain Exercises

Athletic man doing interval training running on stairs in urban setting

When you workout, you are helping your body to stay healthy, strong, and resilient. However, working out does come with risks. Namely, having poor form can quickly lead to serious injuries like plantar fasciitis. 

Why It Increases Plantar Fasciitis Risk

Any exercise puts strain on the foot, which can trigger this condition; this risk increases if you workout with poor form. When exercising improperly, you place undue stress on the foot. It’s therefore important to make sure to learn proper form to reduce unnecessary strain on the body.

The following form of physical activity comes with a high risk for this condition…

6. Long Distance Running

Marathon running in the light of evening,running on city road detail on legs

Long distance running is one of humanity’s oldest sports and one of the most demanding on the body. One of the areas that experiences the most strain is unsurprisingly the foot. 

Why It Increases Plantar Fasciitis Risk

If day-to-day walking can cause plantar fasciitis, long distance running is also certainly a risk factor. Runners as such need to be aware of their limits, have great form, and have the right footwear in order to reduce injury risk. Even with all those precautions in place, the increased wear can still cause plantar fasciitis. 

Sometimes strain on the foot isn’t the result of recreational activities like running, but our jobs…

5. Certain Jobs

Close up portrait of a tired female worker with a medical mask hanging on her ear, holding documents in her hands. Concept of measures to protect against the coronavirus pandemic

Many of us are required to stand for long periods of time by our jobs. Whether you are a cashier, professional chef, or a teacher, your job might be increasing your risk of plantar fasciitis. 

Why It Increases Plantar Fasciitis Risk

Standing might seem like a neutral position. However, when you are forced to stand for 8 hours each day, the strain on the foot adds up. This fact is especially true for certain jobs, like cashiers, who do not have the option to sit or walk off the stiffness that comes with prolonged standing. Making sure you, and your coworkers, have access to regular periods of sitting and walking can help mitigate this risk factor for policeman’s heel.

Sometimes other health problems can trigger plantar fasciitis…

4. Achilles Tendon Troubles

Sports ankle and achilles heel injury concept
CLIPAREA l Custom media/Shutterstock.com

Your Achilles tendon, or calcaneal tendon, is the massive piece of connective tissue you can feel on the back of your foot; it connects calf muscles to the heel bone. Given its location, damage to this tendon can lead to plantar fasciitis. 

Why It Increases Plantar Fasciitis Risk

Much like your plantar fascia, this tendon is under massive strain on a day-to-day basis. If the Achilles tendon becomes too tight as a result, it can pull on the rest of the foot. This pulling puts additional strain on the plantar fascia that can lead to inflammation.

The following cause of policeman’s heel can only affect half of the population…

3. Pregnancy 

Pregnant woman rubbing foot.

While many of the health problems that can arise during pregnancy are due to complicated changes in biochemistry, a few are much more simple. As the pregnancy enters the third trimester, the amount of weight that the feet carry goes up rapidly. This sudden increase in weight can cause plantar fasciitis thanks to increased plantar fascia strain. 

Sometimes it’s not your physical condition or activities that lead to policeman’s heel, but rather what you wear…

2. Your Shoes

Woman sitting on staircase Catch her foot and she has foot pain. Caused by wearing high .Health and beauty concepts

Certain styles of footwear can contribute to plantar fasciitis risk. The higher the heel is, for instance, the greater the risk of triggering this condition. This risk occurs because as a shoe’s heel gets higher, so too does the amount of strain placed on the plantar fascia. Rotating shoe styles, wearing lower heels, and adding supportive inserts can all help reduce the risk that comes with these fashion statements. 

Another controllable risk factor for this condition is the following…

1. Weight

Calcaneus Bone Anatomy with Circulatory System
decade3d – anatomy online/Shutterstock.com

Being overweight can contribute to a variety of health concerns, and plantar fasciitis is no exception.

Why It Increases Plantar Fasciitis Risk

Being overweight increases strain on the foot, which might be enough on its own to cause plantar fasciitis. Extra weight can also aggravate other risk factors for policeman’s heel, which accelerates the development of the condition. Managing weight gain can therefore mitigate this risk factor. 


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