Plantar Fasciitis & Tight Hams

If you’re interested in reading more on ideas presented in the article below, I suggest reading Simple Steps to Foot Pain Relief. If you’d like movement instruction via video, start with Alignment Snacks: Stretching the Standing Muscles.

Super (super) excited about this month’s issue of Foot & Ankle Specialist! (Don’t you get this magazine too?)

Well, I’m not really a subscriber, but I have a lot of awesome friends who are on the look out for articles that I may want to blog about.

P.S. Everyone should get a podiatrist friend. Mine is awesome, because not only is she an excellent doctor, she is also really good at cribbage. Almost as good as me. And if I ever get a cribbage injury, she’ll probably treat me for free. Although she won’t because she’s not allowed to treat anything but the feet. So if I get a cribbage injury in the lower leg — say I accidentally step on a cribbage peg  — I’ll surely be saving some cash money. I love my friends.


The CLINICAL RESEARCH section in this month’s Foot & Ankle is about plantar fasciitis.

And in case you were wondering:

Plantar fasciitis is an overuse syndrome characterized by localized inflammation or degeneration of the plantar fascia at its anatomical insertion on the calcaneus.”

And in case you were wondering:

Localized means that the whole structure is not suffering from inflammation, just at a particular point, anatomical insertion means where the tissue attaches to bone, and the calcaneus is the name of the heel bone.

The structure looks like this:

Well, it kind of looks like this. I just made this using the “shapes” feature on my computer. I don’t think the big toe is typically twice the size oh the heel but beggars can’t be choosers. Or is it bloggers can’t be artists?


What got me so excited it that this is the first study that has looked at tension in the hamstrings (the large muscles down the back of the thighs) and the relief patients are getting from plantar fasciitis with focused hamstring stretching.

I am excited, but I’m also like, duh. (While the titles of many studies differ, they often tend to read Common Sense Proved, Yet Again.)

The say a picture is worth 1,000 words. Let’s see if they are right.


© Restorative Exercise, Inc. (Feel free to use, but please list source!)


Make sense?

Moral of the story: Tight muscles eventually lead to damage of non-force generating tissues like bone, ligaments, and fascia. Next week: HOW to stretch the hamstrings correctly.

Photos are © Restorative Exercise, Inc. Feel free to use, just please list source. Thanks!

Labovitz, J.M.; Yu, J., and Kim, C. “The Role of Hamstring Tightness in Plantar Fasciitis,” Foot & Ankle Specialist, June, 2011, vol. 4, no. 3, pages 141-144.

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32 thoughts on “Plantar Fasciitis & Tight Hams

  1. Katy, I love you! I’m going to drive cross country just to give you a big ole hug! And then I’ll camp out by your house. (and restraining orders don’t mean a thing to me, ha!)

    Anyhow, I use your stuff in my yoga classes all the time. It’s so ultra-useful and simple, anyone can apply it. We do Katy-squats and Katy-calf stretches, and Katy-Kegels, all of it. Last night we did floor angles.

    Can’t wait for your how to stretch the hammies blog. Will you reveal we’ve been doing it wrong? I think not, but we’ll see : )

    A BIG HUGE THANK YOU from Chattanooga!

  2. I am loving these abbreviated blogs and read them religiously. Can’t wait for next week. My hamstrings are way too tight; I had an “ah-ha” (aka OUCH!) moment about that in yoga yesterday.

  3. Interesting! I had some problems with PF once…they treated it with some kind of laser I had to make repeated visits to undergo. Not really sure how or if it helped, but eventually it did resolve.

    I never thought I had tight hamstrings, as I could always bend forward with straight legs and place my palms on the floor. Someone said I was probably hypermobile and stretching the wrong bits (i.e., not hamstring muscles), inside.

    I’m quite eager to see next week’s “episode” and find out how to stretch the right bits!

    1. Yes – bending forward to reach the ground has very little to do with the hamstrings and more to do with over flexing the lower back. Very common in those with hypermobility! Will post on that!

  4. Hi Katy – What do you think can help tarsal tunnel syndrome? My friend has it…and she could use some help. Meanwhile, we are half in New Jersey (our home) and half in VA Beach (til August 7), and I don’t know where I’d be without your DVD’s – especially Spinal Alignment and Foot and Hip Pain. Thank you for your good work!!! Show us a picture of that adorable baby of yours!

    Chris Dvorak xo

  5. hi Katy, super interesting, and kind of a “duh of course” thing. i suffered from PF once in my life shortly after having my child. found it was my calf muscle, they were so short and gripped i am surprised they didn’t drop my bum down to the ground.

    anyhow, in addition to the picture and info you show above about force and load driving the knee forward over the foot, i also wonder about the whole fascial thing. (ex. what Tomas Myers calls the superficial back line in this case?)

    mightn’t tightness in the hammy just because of the relationship myofascially to the PF also cause a shortness there?

    just curious and eager to always learn more.

    i love your articles and link them to my page all the time for my students to see.

    1. In long: Muscle is supposed to be generating its full load of force, but the amount of force conducted is based on length. When the force is below optimal, there is a resulting contraction of the fascial tissue — the fascia basically steps in to provide integrity to the joint because the muscle isn’t. That entire back line of fascia has to configure in a shorter position because the posterior upper and lower leg are at low force, which means fascia is at high tension.

      In short: You’re right.

      What tends to be left out of fascia theory is that the fascia is responding to the state of the muscle or vice versa (no way to know, really.) You can keep working on the fascia to release, but if these muscles are not innervated in your particular gait pattern, you will be needing to release and release forever. If you can work to change your somatic patterns of movement (i.e. learning a more natural, less modernized gait pattern) then the fascia can release like a switch once electricity is present in the muscle.

      For best results, doing both alignment training and passive release is probably the best bet.

      Thanks for reading – I am glad you love learning! I know I do too…

    2. Oh, and maybe we’ll get a chance to meet in my new alignment training center in Washington state (near Port Angeles…)

  6. “Next week: HOW to stretch the hamstrings correctly.”

    You’re really going to make us wait??

    Great post. Thanks!

  7. Katy,

    Well, perhaps for the ten thousandth time since I’ve known you I can only say, “DUH!!” Thanks for the picture; it helps visual learners such as I. Also, it is kind of you to allow (with attribution) the use of your material.

    Before you kick this Venturan pop stand you and your doctor friend need to sit down for some serious cribbage with Michael N. and me.


  8. Thank you, Katy!

    This is so easy to understand. Your pictures are very good.

    I’m excited about next weeks hamstring exercise.

  9. Love this! I, too, use this stuff in my yoga classes! Which I am late for right now, so I gotta run! Thanks so much!


  10. very interesting, now i have to show my better half why his plantar fascia hurts and how to prevent it from happening again and again. he said he tore it and he has been wearing his stiff hiking boots so it can heal. he says it is better, after about 2 weeks, but he is still in his boots. i can’t wait to see next weeks blog so i can at least put a bug in his ear in hopes that the light bulb will go off and he will do the stretches. i am sure i know what the stretches are, but he needs to get it from the horses mouth – to coin a phrase. he’s a mechanical engineer. from one horse to another? LOL thank you so much katy.

  11. Second time I’ve seen plantar fascia in two days! Could this be the cause of a buzzing feeling in my foot? Same leg is having calf pain. Thanks for an always interesting blog, Katy!

  12. Would you please say something about heel spurs? My shoe choice tends to Earth Shoes, MBTs and Dansko. The Earth Shoes tend not to fit in the heel, except the slingbacks but I noticed I was walking at a 45 degree angle from the shoe beds, so I tossed them. Real MBTs seem to have a sweet spot, but there is some part of the knee that gets stressed with either the high ones or the fake ones. The clogs hit my heel when I walk, which isn’t pleasant with a heel spur. I am heavy with tight hamstrings and calves. Walking is no fun anymore, and even swimming or lying in bed seems to exacerbate it. What kind of exercise can make this infernal heel pain go away?

    1. Sounds like you need to build your intrinsic foot musculature and stretch the extrinsic, lower leg, and hamstrings. I’d recommend Fix Your Feet and Knees and Hips DVDs. Spurs are just natures way of beefing up the bone in response to tight muscle-induced friction!! There are also other posts with posture adjustments that help too…

  13. Loving your blogs Katy and learning so much. Wish my credit card would be accepted by your site so I could buy your dvds – have given up trying. I too can touch the floor with my palms and recently have been having doubts abouts my hamstrings being flexible. Looking forward to post about the back hypermobility issue and hamstrings etc etc Many thanks……

    1. Are you in Australia?? Our software, for some reason, doesn’t take CCs from Australia! You can get them on Amazon though, who loves all credit cards 🙂

      1. Thanks Katy. yes I do live in Aus. Went to Amazon and sadly they (the company aligned to your website) have charged me $60 for 4 dvds and $50 shipping. At that rate, don’t think I can afford too many more.

        1. Amazon charges way too much for shipping! Didn’t I send you an email to place the order with me?? What I do is, getthe ones you want and figure out how to place your order so that we van stick extra disks in your order!! Did you already place your order?

          1. Thanks so much for the offer Katy. I have already placed the order – I thought you were worth it. Will let you know when I want more.

  14. great pics – very helpful thankyou!

    i’m new to your site so maybe you’ve talked about this before…..would this also have relevance to children who toe walk?

    1. Yep! Try creating a “heel walking” game and do lots of calf stretching (while brushing their teeth is a good way to learn to develop the habit 🙂

  15. Is pf synonymous with “my arches hurt?” I am 34 wks pregnant and have been experiencing arch pain for the last few weeks whenever I am not wearing tennis shoes, esp when I first get up. Maybe I will try some hammy stretching and see if that helps! Thanks!

  16. I have self-diagnosed with Plantar Fasciitis (since the general medicine doc was USELESS!). I have been doing golf-ball rolling, icing, calf stretches etc, but had not focused on ham-string stretches. I read your blog on that and will now be including that too. This was perfectly timed for me – thank you!

  17. Holy cannoli you are right on top of it, again. Yesterday I did a very long (and some might say, questionably sane) endurance event and felt little itty bitty TWINGES in my L plantar fascia. Now, I’ve felt this before and it is usually not a big deal – I recover and hydrate and it’s OK.

    But this time my PF and Hammies were on your wavelength and this morning the insertion point (behind/below knee) of my L hammie damn near seized up in a cramp. Talk about the movement chain of effect!

    Today I am re-educating in hammie stretches, courtesy of YOU. Thank you and I hope the book sells a quadbillion copies.

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