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Does Plantar Fasciitis Also Cause Leg Or Calf Pain?

Written by: Tao Schencks - Updated

Plantar fasciitis can often cause leg pain because any problems the muscles, achilles tendon and tissues in your feet and ankles can cause tension in your calf muscles.

Any foot, ankle, walking, running or gait problems can cause leg, back and hip pain and this is the same if you have painful heels, heel spurs or plantar fasciitis.

Sore heels, painful steps first thing in the morning and agony after standing, sitting or walking for too long are very common signs and symptoms of foot pain, specifically Plantar Fasciitis.

If this pain causes you to change the way you walk, even slightly, it can lead to calf muscle pain, lower back problems and even neck pain too.

Types of leg pain caused by Plantar Fasciitis:

Now we know why pain can be caused through heel or foot problems like Plantar Fasciitis, we can take a look at the different types and how you can treat or avoid getting them.

Referred or radiating pain.

There are many causes of Plantar Fasciitis, the most common being that you have not been wearing the most sensible or practical footwear or that you have injured yourself through doing energetic sports.

If your shoes are not giving you the correct amount of support in the arch and midsole area, this can lead to the fascia tendon becoming over-stretched and may cause it to become damaged, or tear where it attaches to your heel bone.

Make sure you wear shoes that provide proper arch support and a sturdy, firm heel.

Ankle pain

Again, as with the referred pain you can experience, aching or painful ankles can also be caused by Plantar Fasciitis.

The tendons in your foot, namely the Achilles and posterior tibal tendon all link together. Your Achilles connects to the back of the heel bone, whereas the plantar fascia connects to the underside.

The posterior tibial tendon connects down the sides of your feet and is attached to your “long flexor muscle” just above your ankle.

If you are experiencing heel pain, this can radiate to the connected muscles and tendons, causing ankle pain or soreness.

It is unlikely that it is your ankle itself that is inflamed, unless the way you are walking with your heel pain is putting extra strain on that joint.

Try to feel around your ankle to see exactly where the pain is. It could be that you have tight calf muscles which are causing tension to your achilles tendon.

Or it could be that pain from your plantar fascia tendon is radiating up and around your ankle.

As with most muscle problems, try to rest and use ice to reduce any swelling. You could also wear a compression sock or ankle support bandage to help support it.

Shin Pain

It is common for people to get a painful problem called “shin splints” where the muscles around the front of your calf and ankle become sore.

This is usually associated with either running too far (on hard surfaces) or exercising too much too soon (when you first hit the gym and want to show off a bit).

It is unlikely that having plantar fasciitis will cause you to get shin splints, but if it does, it can be a sign that you need to look at how you are walking and how tight your leg muscles are.

Any additional muscular or skeletal stress from your pelvis down to your toes will have unwanted effects on your muscles, no matter how small.

To address shin pain from plantar fasciitis, ensure that you start a regular stretching routine. This can be done at home, or as part of a warm up and cool down after exercising (you still do that… right?).

Calf muscle pain

There is a school of thought that most instances of plantar fasciitis are caused simply because of tight calf muscles.

To me, it makes a lot of sense.

Your Achilles tendon stretches up the back of your calf and joins to the Gastrocnemius (the large muscle group you associate as your calf muscle). This is also surrounded by your Solus muscle, which goes down either side of your Achilles tendon to your ankle.

If these muscles or your Achilles tendon are tight, this can cause strain on your plantar fascia.

“Increasing tension on the Achilles tendon is coupled with an increasing strain on the plantar fascia. Overstretching of the Achilles tendon resulting from intense muscle contraction and passive stretching of tight Achilles tendon are plausible mechanical factors for overstraining of the plantar fascia. “

Cheung JT, Zhang M, An KN. Effect of Achilles tendon loading on plantar fascia tension in the standing foot.

I believe that I have my heel pain under control (not cured 100% by any means) but the number 1 symptom I still experience is having tight calf muscles.

Even as I sit here, typing this article, I can feel the tension in my lower legs. My feet are not flat on the floor however, like they should be, so the additional stress on those muscles is more likely my fault.

After I have been running, I pay most attention to stretching and massaging my calf muscles. I also try to stretch them during the day as much as possible (speaking of which, time I did it now!).

Thigh or hip Pain

Whilst it is important to remember that the smaller muscles in your feet are being supported by the larger muscles above, there is unlikely to be a direct link between having thigh or hip pain and plantar fasciitis.

There are many muscles in between, so unlike having calf pain where the tissues are directly connected, additional tension or tightness is not going to cause problems in your thigh muscles or hips.

However…

Going back to thinking about how you walk or run, your gait or the way you stand being affected by having plantar fasciitis, it is possible.

Just the same as having one leg shorter than the other, being forced to walk in a different way to normal can have unwanted results.

It could be that your hips are misaligned or you are putting more pressure on one side of your body to compensate for your heel pain.

If you are suffering from hip pain, I recommend seeing a physiotherapist who can examine you properly. It is not something you can fix easily yourself.

In conclusion

If you have leg pain and also have plantar fasciitis, it is probable that they are linked and are impacting each other. Even a small adjustment to the way you walk or stand will make a big difference to your overall posture which can cause muscle tension, pain or stiffness.

Apart from checking your gait and body position and stretching properly, making sure you seek treatment from a podiatrist or physio is the most important action you can take.

I have spoken with so many people since starting this website who struggle with terrible foot pain – who have never been to a medical professional for treatment!

I understand it can be expensive for some people, but as an investment in yourself and your well-being, it is money well spent.

    Tao
     

    Hi, my name is Tao and I suffer from Plantar Fasciitis in both of my feet. My goal is to share information, tips, symptoms, exercises and remedies on this website for others. I am not a doctor or podiatrist, so make sure to read my medical disclaimer page.

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