Does Plantar Fasciitis Also Cause Leg Or Calf Pain?

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.

5 thoughts on “Does Plantar Fasciitis Also Cause Leg Or Calf Pain?”

  1. Thank you for posting this information about plantar fascitis pain. I have been suffering for almost 2 yrs now with mine. Mine is also bilateral and it hurts my from my toes, to my heels, up through my ankles and into the tibia bones all the way up to my knees. It is horrible. On Feb 6th I have a consultation with my 3rd podiatrist in 12 months. I am going to look into cryosurgery to repair the injuries. I am sure I also have bilateral Morton’s Neuroma. I have researched that and discussed it with my podiatrist. He thinks it is Mortons Neuroma but hasn’t confirmed it. The only thing he has done is had me buy inserts for my shoes. They cost $50.00. I opted not to have custom orthotics made because 1. 3 other people I talked to who bought them said they were a waste of money and didnt help them at all and 2. I am on Medicare only and they aren’t covered and I dont have an extra $500 to spend on an uncertainty. I haven’t been able to bring myself to get the steroid injections in my feet. I know it is just a temporary fix. I know two people who have had the shots and they said the shots hurt something awful…one person peed their pants it hurt so bad… and I am scared to death of needles and to get the shots in my feet because my feet already hurt so bad. If I’m going to have to endure shots in my feet, I would prefer it be for a more permanent procedure, like the cryosurgery. My walking is limited and the amount of time spent on my feet, out and about, is limited to around 2 hours. My foot pain radiates into my ankles, tibia bones and knee joints. I am hoping this 3rd podiatrist DR will do exrays on my feet and assess my gait, examine my feet and advise whatever it takes to get me healed up. 2 years is just too long to be in this much pain.

    Reply
  2. I have had plantar phasitis for 5 years now done alot of stretchers but no luck. Been to phisio said I had acclies tendonitis and plantar phasitis.I got steroid injection in both my feet it did help my arch pain but did not help my calf pain.the calf pain is intense lately hi have thigh pain to. .thinking of getting custom orthotics I have a standing job this is where it becomes very painfull dont know how got i this but it seems it wont go away.no way to live even if I am resting I have muscle pain in my calfs any body have some suggestions I would appreciate it.I have used different shoes but did not make a difference and heel cups.dont know if shock therapy helps for this type of pain.

    Reply
    • Hi Shane. I probably need to update this article as I have been doing more research into foot issues that cause leg and hip pain.
      In short, from what you have said, it seems like you are addressing the symptoms of the pain but not the causes. Podiatrists will be recommending things like orthotics, injections or therapies because they will address the immediate issue (pain) but they need to be addressing the cause of that pain.
      It’s a bit like your car has an engine leak. You can keep refilling the oil every few miles, but really you need to address the cause, not just keep putting sticking plasters over the holes.
      My advice (from what you have said) is to look at addressing any problems in your back and hips that might be causing you to stand incorrectly. Your hips are the cornerstones of your support. If they are wrong, everything else below will be wrong too. As you have said, having injections has cured (temporarily) the plantar fasciitis pain, but not your calf pain. It is all linked. Try to find a podiatrist who won’t just try to fob you off with orthotics or injections, which they will want to do because it makes them lots of money and will temporarily fix your problems.

      Reply
  3. I am 56 years old and was very active. Over the past 25 years I have suffered from severe leg cramping on the side of my calves. Unbearable and hard as a rock. If I stop walking or running it will subside. After the first few years of these episodes, I got planters in both feet. Didn’t know it at the time. Eventually three podiatrists later, got orthos for my work shoes and they are fantastic. On the treadmill with good arch support sneakers, compression on the arches and good socks. At least I am motivated to exercise. Unfortunately, cramping of calves on the side is still there thus preventing me from pushing hard. In fact, I walk only 3.5 miles in an hour.! Unsure if it is a vain issue, planter issue (although cramping occurred first) or just calve matter. Not sure who to go to. Podiatrists seem to be looking for the quick fix. Any direction would be great.

    Reply
    • Hi, thanks for getting in touch.
      Firstly, let me say that I am not a medical person and have no training. But, what I can say is that I agree with you that a lot of podiatrists seem to focus on a quick-fix using orthotics. They do work, but only for around 6-months, before they lose their effectiveness to treat the issue. It does sound as if they are helping you, but at what cost? It sounds like you need a proper analysis of your gait and running/walking style. Tight calf muscles can also contribute to Plantar Fasciitis, so it could be that your legs are causing the other problems. Try to find a local PT who can help you with your overall body movement. Just focusing on your feet and calves won’t help – you need to be looking at your hips, back and how you are moving too.

      Reply

Leave a Reply to Nasim Cancel reply