Hiking with Plantar Fasciitis – A Hiker’s Guide to Overcoming Heel Pain during Hikes

Hiking with Plantar Fasciitis

Get your hiking boots securely fastened and prepare for an exhilarating journey into the captivating realm of foot health. This captivating exploration delves into a burning question that resonates with hikers nationwide:  Can hiking with plantar fasciitis is ok?

The answer is a resounding “Yes!” Plantar fasciitis, a prevalent condition, refers to the inflammation of the plantar fascia—a strong band of tissue that runs along the underside of the foot, connecting the heel to the toes. Engaging in activities like hiking, which involve repetitive stress on the foot, can potentially activate this unpleasant ailment.

Join us as we unravel the mysteries, debunk the myths, and equip you with the knowledge to conquer the trails without falling victim to plantar fasciitis. Step by step, we navigate the path to foot health, ensuring that your hiking adventures leave a lasting impression of bliss rather than enduring discomfort.

Buckle up, adventure seekers! Let’s embark on this thrilling journey to uncover the truth behind the tantalizing question: Can hiking cause plantar fasciitis?

Table of Contents

Understanding Plantar Fasciitis

Understanding Plantar Fasciitis - Can Hiking Cause Plantar Fasciitis

To fully grasp the potential link between hiking and plantar fasciitis, it’s important to first delve deeper into the nature of this common foot ailment.

The Plantar fasciitis (fashee-EYE-tiss), a thick connective tissue, provides support to the Medial Longitudinal Arch located on the sole (plantar side) of the foot. It extends from the inner tuberosity of the calcaneus, which is the inner part of the heel bone, all the way forward to the heads of the metatarsal bones. It means it spans from the back of the foot to the front, providing essential support and stability throughout the arch.

Composed primarily of longitudinally oriented collagen fibers, the plantar fasciitis has a white, flattened, or ribbon-like appearance. The plantar fascia is composed of different components, with a central part that is thicker and medial and lateral parts that are comparatively thinner. This arrangement of the plantar fascia is essential in providing support to the foot, as it absorbs a significant portion, approximately 14%, of the total load placed upon it.

Plantar fasciitis plays a vital role in supporting the arch of your foot and absorbing the impact while walking. Under normal conditions, the plantar fascia efficiently carries the weight when your foot meets the ground, facilitating smooth and effortless walking.

Did you know surprising stats about plantar fasciitis, which include:

  • Plantar Fasciitis is responsible for 9% of all running injuries in the United States.
  • Approximately 15% of reported foot pain cases are attributed to plantar fasciitis.
  • The estimated lifetime risk of developing plantar fasciitis in the US population is around 10%.
  • Over 2 million individuals in the United States receive treatment each year for Plantar Fasciitis-related pain and discomfort.
  • The economic burden of plantar fasciitis in the United States is estimated to range from $192 to $376 million annually.

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis? The severe heel pain

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis - Can Hiking Cause Plantar Fasciitis

The precise cause or underlying mechanism of Plantar Fasciitis remains elusive in approximately 85% of cases. However, this condition is widely believed to be predominantly multifactorial, meaning that a range of mechanical, anatomical, and environmental factors contribute to its development. While Plantar Fasciitis is more commonly observed in active individuals, the risk is also significantly high in the general population, particularly middle-aged women leading sedentary lifestyles.

The risk factors for plantar fasciitis are multifaceted, and while it can affect anyone, certain factors increase your risk. These include:


The prevalence of plantar fasciitis is highest among individuals aged 40 to 60 years.

Certain types of exercise

Engaging in activities that strain your heel and its associated tissues, like long-distance running, ballet dancing, and aerobic dance, may accelerate the development of plantar fasciitis. Additionally, hiking, especially on demanding terrains, can exert pressure on your foot, potentially leading to this condition.

Foot mechanics

Individuals with flat feet, high arches, or an abnormal walking pattern may experience an uneven weight distribution while standing or walking. This uneven weight distribution can strain the plantar fascia, leading to potential discomfort and complications.

Sports Activities and Exercise

A sudden surge in your physical activity level—particularly activities that stress the foot—can contribute to plantar fasciitis. Runners are notably prone to developing this condition due to the repeated impact on the heel and surrounding tissue. Cyclists may also face a similar risk, especially when their cycling shoes lack proper arch support.

Previous Injuries

A previous sports injury to your feet or ankles can also set the stage for plantar fasciitis. It’s essential to rehabilitate fully after an injury, as inadequate recovery may lead to further issues.

Occupation Risks

Jobs that involve extensive walking or standing on hard surfaces increase the likelihood of getting plantar fasciitis. This exposure to constant pressure can lead to micro-tears in the plantar fascia, resulting in inflammation and pain.

Footwear Concerns

Footwear plays a critical role in foot health. Shoes with poor arch support, like certain flip-flops, don’t provide sufficient cushioning to the foot, thus placing additional strain on the plantar fascia.

Weight Concerns

Being overweight can also lead to plantar fasciitis. Extra pounds add to your feet’ load, creating additional stress on the plantar fascia.

Foot Structure

The structure of your feet can predispose you to plantar fasciitis. Individuals with high arches or flat feet often face irregular weight distribution when standing or walking, which can put excess pressure on the plantar fascia.

Achilles Tendon Tightness

A tight Achilles tendon at the back of your ankle can contribute to plantar fasciitis. It can limit your ankle’s mobility, affecting how your foot strikes the ground and potentially causing undue stress on the plantar fascia.


Lastly, pregnancy can make you more susceptible to plantar fasciitis. Hormonal changes coupled with weight gain often lead to foot discomfort or, in some cases, plantar fasciitis.

While it’s clear that many factors can lead to plantar fasciitis, it’s also important to note that it can occur without any identifiable cause. Recognizing these potential causes is the first step to preventive care and maintaining healthy, happy feet.

key points ─ Causes Of Plantar Fasciitis

  • Achilles Tendon Tightness
  • Age
  • Certain types of exercise
  • Foot mechanics
  • Foot Structure
  • Footwear Concerns
  • Occupation Risks
  • Previous Injuries
  • Pregnancy
  • Sports Activities 
  • Weight Concerns

Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms beyond foot and ankle

Common Symptoms - Can Hiking Cause Plantar Fasciitis

Identifying plantar fasciitis early is key to efficient management and a speedy recovery. But what signs should you watch out for? Here are the common symptoms of this prevalent foot condition.

Heel Pain

The primary indicator of plantar fasciitis is a distinct, piercing pain located in the bottom of the foot, near the heel. This pain tends to be more pronounced in the morning, particularly with the initial steps after waking up. It may also intensify after prolonged periods of standing or sitting. Additionally, the pain can worsen following exercise or extended periods of standing.

Pain after Exercise

Unlike many other injuries, plantar fasciitis pain often doesn’t occur during the exercise itself but rather just after stopping. So, you might notice a throbbing sensation or discomfort post-workout or after a long hike.


The bottom of your foot may feel tender, particularly in the region around your heel. It is where the plantar fascia connects with the heel bone, and inflammation can lead to sensitivity in this area.


You might experience stiffness in your foot, particularly after long rest periods. It can impede your ability to ascend stairs, and you may experience difficulty flexing your foot or pointing your toes upward.

Pain while Flexing

Pain might worsen when the plantar fascia is stretched, such as when your foot is flexed, walking barefoot, or on tiptoes.

Other symptoms of plantar fasciitis can include:

  • A burning or aching sensation in the heel or arch of the foot
  • A lump or bump in the heel

Remember, these symptoms can vary in intensity from one person to another. For some, it may be a minor annoyance, while for others, it could be debilitating. If you encounter persistent heel pain along with any of these symptoms, it is recommended to consult a healthcare professional for a comprehensive diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Heel painSharp, stabbing pain in the bottom of the foot near the heel, especially with first steps in the morning or after rest
TendernessBottom of the foot feels tender around the heel where the plantar fascia connects
StiffnessDifficulty flexing the foot or pointing toes upward, especially after rest
Pain with activityPain worsens after exercise or long periods of standing or sitting

key points ─ Symptoms Of Plantar Fasciitis

  • Bottom of the foot feels tender, particularly around the heel region.
  • Burning or aching sensation in the heel or arch of the foot.
  • Difficulty climbing stairs and flexing the foot or pointing the toes upwards.
  • Foot experiences stiffness, especially after long periods of rest.
  • Inflammation occurs in the region where the plantar fascia attaches to the heel bone.
  • Pain can be more intense after prolonged standing, sitting, or exercise.
  • Pain worsens in the morning, especially with the first steps after awakening.
  • Pain worsens when the plantar fascia is stretched, such as when flexing the foot, walking barefoot, or on tiptoes.
  • Plantar fasciitis pain often occurs after stopping exercise, not during.
  • Throbbing sensation or discomfort post-workout or after a long hike.
  • Presence of a lump or bump in the heel.
  • Sharp, stabbing pain in the bottom of the foot near the heel.

Can Hiking Cause Plantar Fasciitis?

The Connection between Hiking and Plantar Fasciitis - Can Hiking Cause Plantar Fasciitis

Exploring the link between hiking and plantar fasciitis requires understanding the stress hiking places on the feet. Does this mean hikers could be at risk? Absolutely, and here’s How exactly can this popular outdoor activity contribute to the onset of this foot condition?

Hiking’s Impact on the Feet

Hiking exposes your feet to a level of strain that is much greater compared to regular walking or standing. Rough terrains, steep inclines, and extended physical exertion put pressure on your feet—specifically on the plantar fascia. The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) explains,

“Hiking requires your feet to absorb the weight of your body, and when you add the extra weight of a backpack, the stress increases significantly.”

When you hike, your feet are constantly working to absorb shock and provide balance. It can exert pressure on the plantar fascia, a robust tissue band extending along the underside of your foot.

The plantar fascia is especially vulnerable to injury when you hike on uneven terrain, such as rocks, roots, or hills. It is because these surfaces can put uneven pressure on the foot, which can cause the plantar fascia to become inflamed.

Furthermore, hiking can contribute to the tightening of calf muscles. When the calf muscles become tight, they can exert additional pressure on the plantar fascia, elevating the likelihood of plantar fasciitis.

According to a research study published in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research, walking can significantly increase the strain on the plantar fascia by approximately 110% compared to standing alone. This percentage escalates even further when considering the demanding nature of hiking and the additional load from carrying a backpack.

Related Article: “Can Hiking Build Muscle? Discover The Ultimate Workout

Role of Inappropriate Footwear

Another major contributing factor to plantar fasciitis among hikers is inappropriate footwear. Dr Jack Reingold, a podiatrist and seasoned hiker, asserts,

“Hiking boots without adequate arch support or a poor fit can lead to undue strain on the plantar fascia, significantly increasing the risk of developing plantar fasciitis.”

Shoes that lack proper cushioning fail to absorb shock adequately, thereby transmitting the full impact of each step directly onto your plantar fascia. This additional strain can lead to inflammation, potentially resulting in plantar fasciitis.

Related Article: “How Much Ankle Support Do You Need in a Hiking Boot?

Overuse and Inadequate Recovery

Overuse is another prevalent trigger for plantar fasciitis among hikers. Pushing beyond your limits, especially without proper conditioning and training, can overwork your plantar fascia, leading to micro-tears in the tissue. These tears then result in inflammation and pain—hallmarks of plantar fasciitis.

“Rest is crucial in preventing and managing plantar fasciitis,” says Laura Harris, an avid hiker and physical therapist. “Without proper rest, the plantar fascia doesn’t have the opportunity to recover from the strain of a long hike, increasing the risk of injury.”

Risk FactorDescription
AgeMost common between ages 40-60
ExerciseRunning, jumping, hiking on uneven terrain
Foot mechanicsFlat feet, high arches can cause uneven weight distribution
Previous injuryPast injuries to the foot or ankle can increase risk
OccupationJobs with extensive standing or walking
FootwearPoor arch support and cushioning
WeightBeing overweight adds stress to the feet
StructureHigh arches or flat feet prone to imbalance
Tight calfReduces ankle mobility, affecting how foot strikes ground

Key Points ─ Hiking And Plantar Fasciitis link

  • Hiking can put a lot of strain on the plantar fascia.
  • The plantar fascia is especially vulnerable to injury when you hike on uneven terrain, such as rocks, roots, or hills.
  • Inappropriate footwear can also contribute to plantar fasciitis.
  • Overuse is another risk factor for plantar fasciitis.
  • Rest is crucial in preventing and managing plantar fasciitis.
  • Hiking can increase the load on the plantar fascia by nearly 110% compared to standing.
  • Tight calf muscles can put more strain on the plantar fascia.
  • Hiking boots without adequate arch support or a poor fit can lead to undue strain on the plantar fascia.

Hiking with Plantar Fasciitis ─ Research And Medical Studies

Research And Medical Studies - Can Hiking Cause Plantar Fasciitis

Here are three reputable studies shedding light on how hiking and similar physical activities could potentially lead to plantar fasciitis.

“Biomechanical Variables Associated with Achilles Tendinopathy in Runners”

Published in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise journal, this research identifies a connection between physical activities (like running and, by extension, hiking) and the strain on foot-related tendons. Such strain can contribute to conditions like plantar fasciitis.

“Increased prevalence of plantar fasciitis among heavy individuals”

A mechanical perspective

This study demonstrates how added weight, often from heavy backpacks during hiking, increases the likelihood of plantar fasciitis.

“Foot orthoses and physiotherapy in the treatment of patellofemoral pain syndrome”

A randomised clinical trial

Published in the BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders journal, this research underscores how improper footwear (a common occurrence in hiking) can lead to foot-related ailments, including plantar fasciitis.

Remember, while these studies establish a relationship between hiking-like activities and plantar fasciitis, they don’t imply that hiking will invariably cause this condition. As with any physical activity, the risk can be significantly reduced with proper preventive measures, such as appropriate footwear, rest, and conditioning.

EarlySubtle, intermittent pain when taking first steps after rest
AcuteSharp pain during activity that may stop you in your tracks; pain after sitting
ChronicConstant baseline of pain with good and bad days; pain worsens after activity
RecoveryPain and inflammation decrease; some pain after activity remains

Insight by Podiatrist

Insight by Podiatrist - Can Hiking Cause Plantar Fasciitis

Here are opinions from five medical doctors with expertise in sports medicine, podiatry, or orthopedics regarding the relationship between hiking and plantar fasciitis.

Dr. David Jenkins

MD, Sports Medicine Specialist

“Hiking, especially on challenging terrains, places considerable stress on the feet. This constant pounding can irritate the plantar fascia, potentially leading to plantar fasciitis. However, it’s important to note that not all hikers will experience this. Those with certain risk factors like high arches, obesity, or tight calf muscles are more prone.”

Dr. Jennifer M. Purvis

DPM, Podiatrist

“The type of footwear hikers use is critical in the onset of plantar fasciitis. Hiking boots without proper arch support or cushioning can exert undue strain on the plantar fascia. Additionally, new boots that aren’t broken in properly can also lead to foot injuries.”

Dr. Samuel G. Miller

MD, Orthopedic Surgeon

“While hiking can contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis, it’s also a great exercise that strengthens the feet and legs. The key is moderation and preparation—conditioning the feet and body for hiking, taking adequate breaks, and not pushing beyond one’s limits.”

Dr. Thomas C. Boyce

MD, Orthopedic Surgeon

“The impact of hiking on plantar fasciitis can be mitigated with appropriate measures. It includes wearing well-fitted, supportive footwear, stretching before and after hikes, and gradually increasing hiking intensity and duration instead of sudden spikes in activity.”

Dr. Eric M. Bluman

MD, Ph.D., Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Specialist

“Overuse is a common cause of plantar fasciitis among hikers. They often hike for extended periods without sufficient rest, leading to wear and tear of the plantar fascia. Prevention involves incorporating adequate rest into hiking routines and listening to your body’s signals when it’s time to take a break.”

Remember, these opinions highlight that while hiking can potentially contribute to plantar fasciitis, it doesn’t mean it’s a certainty for all hikers. The condition’s development depends on various factors, many of which can be managed appropriately.

Plantar Fasciitis In Hikers ─ Expert Hikers Testimonials

Expert Hikers Testimonials - Can Hiking Cause Plantar Fasciitis

Here are testimonials from well-known hikers who have experienced plantar fasciitis:

Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed, author of the memoir “Wild,” documented her Pacific Crest Trail journey and her battles with various physical ailments, including plantar fasciitis. She wrote,

“The grueling terrain and heavy backpack took a toll on my feet, causing immense heel pain. I later discovered I had developed plantar fasciitis.”

She credits ample rest, stretching, and a change in footwear for her recovery during her journey.

Andrew Skurka

An adventurer, guide, and renowned long-distance hiker, Skurka shared his experience with plantar fasciitis in a blog post. He said,

“After several thousand miles of trail, I began to experience a sharp, stabbing pain in my heel. It was my first encounter with plantar fasciitis, resulting from too many miles with insufficient rest.”

To manage his condition, Skurka utilized targeted stretches, massages, and mileage monitoring.

Jennifer Pharr Davis

The former record holder for the fastest through-hike of the Appalachian Trail, Davis had a brush with plantar fasciitis. In an interview, she stated,

“Hiking day in and day out made me realize how vital foot health is. Plantar fasciitis was a wake-up call for me to pay attention to my feet, take rest seriously, and invest in good shoes.”

She continues to hike extensively, demonstrating that plantar fasciitis can be managed and doesn’t have to end a hiking career.

These case studies underscore the fact that even seasoned hikers can experience plantar fasciitis. However, they also emphasize that with proper care, it’s possible to continue hiking without causing long-term damage to the feet.

How To Treat Plantar Fasciitis From Hiking

If you’ve developed plantar fasciitis, don’t despair. Many treatment options are available, ranging from self-care methods to professional interventions. Here are some commonly recommended approaches to manage and heal plantar fasciitis.

Home Remedies and Lifestyle Changes

Home Remedies and Lifestyle Changes - Can Hiking Cause Plantar Fasciitis


The first step in reducing plantar fasciitis pain is to rest. This means decreasing or even stopping the activities that make the pain worse. If you are an athlete, you may need to stop activities that pound on your feet, such as running, dancing, or step aerobics.


Ice is another effective way to reduce plantar fasciitis pain. Rolling your foot over a cold-water bottle or ice pack for 20 minutes at a time can help to reduce inflammation and pain. You can do these 3 to 4 times a day.

Stretching for Plantar Fasciitis

Tight muscles in the feet and calves often cause plantar fasciitis. Stretching these muscles can help to relieve the pain and improve function. According to a study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, incorporating stretching and strengthening exercises into the treatment regimen showed remarkable improvement in both pain reduction and enhanced functionality among patients with plantar fasciitis.

Calf Stretch

To do a calf stretch, stand facing a wall with one foot about 2 feet away from the wall. Lean forward against the wall, keeping your back straight. Keep your front heel on the ground and your back heel raised. You should feel a stretch in the back of your calf. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

Plantar Fascia Stretch

For a plantar fascia stretch, find a comfortable chair and sit with your legs extended straight in front of you. Take your affected foot and cross it over your other leg. Grasp your toes and slowly pull them towards you. You should feel a stretch in the bottom of your foot. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

How Often to Stretch

You should stretch your calves and plantar fascia several times a day. It is best to do the stretches before standing or walking, as this will help to prevent pain. You can also do stretches after standing or walking, as this will help to reduce pain and improve flexibility.

Tips for Stretching

  • Do not bounce when you are stretching.
  • Hold each stretch for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat each stretch 20 times.
  • If you feel pain, stop the stretch and consult with your doctor.

Night splints

Night splints are a type of orthosis that is worn at night. They help to keep the foot in a stretched position, which can help to reduce pain and inflammation in the plantar fascia. Night splints are typically made of plastic or fabric, and they are designed to keep the toes pointed upwards.

Shoe inserts

Shoe inserts are another type of orthosis that can be helpful for plantar fasciitis. They also provide valuable support to the arch of the foot, which can have a positive impact on managing plantar fasciitis symptoms. Shoe inserts can be custom-made, or they can be purchased over the counter.

Here are some of the benefits of night splints and shoe inserts:

  • They can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.
  • They contribute to enhancing the flexibility and range of motion in the affected foot.
  • They can help to prevent further injury.

Here are some of the risks of night splints and shoe inserts:

  • They may not be comfortable to wear.
  • They may not be effective for everyone.
  • They may need to be adjusted or replaced periodically.

Plantar fasciitis treatment ─ Medical options

Physical Therapy

Physical therapists can guide you through stretching exercises and strengthening your plantar fascia, Achilles tendon, and lower leg muscles. They can also teach you how to apply athletic taping to support your bottom foot.


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen have demonstrated their effectiveness in reducing inflammation and relieving the pain associated with plantar fasciitis.


Custom orthotics or arch supports can distribute pressure evenly across your feet, reducing strain on the plantar fascia.

Advanced Interventions

If conservative measures don’t provide adequate relief, your healthcare provider might suggest advanced treatment options such as:


Casting is a treatment option for plantar fasciitis that involves wearing a rigid cast on the affected foot. The cast is custom-molded to the foot and cannot be removed, which helps to keep the foot immobilized and in a position that promotes healing.

Casting is typically used for people with severe plantar fasciitis who have not responded to other treatments. It can be a very effective way to relieve pain and inflammation, and it can also help to speed up the healing process.

Here are some of the benefits of casting for plantar fasciitis:

  • It keeps the foot immobilized, which is a better environment for healing.
  • It can be very effective in relieving pain and inflammation.
  • It can help to speed up the healing process.

Here are some of the risks of casting for plantar fasciitis:

  • It can be uncomfortable to wear.
  • It can make it difficult to walk.
  • It can increase the risk of skin breakdown.

Cortisone Injections

Cortisone, a form of steroid, is commonly employed to mitigate inflammation. When it comes to plantar fasciitis, it can be administered via injection directly into the plantar fascia—a resilient tissue band spanning the underside of the foot. This targeted approach aims to alleviate both pain and inflammation.

Cortisone injections are often effective in the short term, but they can have some risks. For example, cortisone injections can weaken the plantar fascia, which can lead to a rupture (tear). This can cause flattening of the foot and chronic pain.

To ensure the safe and appropriate use of cortisone injections for plantar fasciitis, doctors may exercise caution by limiting the number of injections or even avoiding them altogether. It is crucial for individuals contemplating cortisone injections to engage in open discussions with their healthcare providers regarding the procedure’s risks and benefits.

Here are some of the benefits of cortisone injections:

  • They can provide short-term relief from pain and inflammation associated with plantar fasciitis.
  • They are relatively quick and ensure minimal discomfort for the patient.

Here are some of the risks of cortisone injections:

  • They can weaken the plantar fascia, which can lead to a rupture.
  • They can cause skin discoloration at the injection site.
  • They can rarely cause other side effects, such as infection or nerve damage.

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is an enriched concentration of platelets derived from your own blood. These platelets harbor growth factors that play a crucial role in facilitating the healing process.

In the realm of plantar fasciitis treatment, PRP injections offer a promising solution. These injections are precisely administered into the plantar fascia, a resilient band of tissue that traverses the underside of the foot. The growth factors contained within the PRP actively stimulate the healing of the plantar fascia, effectively alleviating pain.

Although relatively new, PRP injections have exhibited efficacy in various studies as a treatment for plantar fasciitis. Typically performed on an outpatient basis, this procedure boasts a brief recovery time, allowing individuals to resume their regular activities without delay.

Here are some of the benefits of PRP injections:

  • They are minimally invasive, meaning that there is a small incision and less tissue damage.
  • They are effective in relieving pain and improving function.
  • They can be performed on an outpatient basis.
  • The recovery time is short.

Here are some of the risks of PRP injections:

  • There is a small risk of infection.
  • The injections may not be effective for everyone.
  • More research is needed on the long-term effects of PRP injections.

Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT)

Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) presents a non-surgical approach to address plantar fasciitis. This innovative treatment entails the targeted application of potent, high-energy shockwaves to the plantar fascia—a robust band of tissue that extends along the underside of the foot.

The shockwaves are thought to stimulate the healing process in the damaged plantar fascia tissue. However, ESWT has not shown consistent results and is not commonly performed.

ESWT is a minimally invasive procedure, meaning that there is no surgical incision. This makes it a relatively safe procedure with a low risk of complications.

ESWT is sometimes tried before surgery is considered. This is because it is a less invasive procedure with a lower risk of complications than surgery. However, it is important to note that ESWT is not always effective in relieving plantar fasciitis pain.

Here are some of the benefits of ESWT:

  • It is a minimally invasive procedure.
  • It has a low risk of complications.
  • It can be performed on an outpatient basis.

Here are some of the risks of ESWT:

  • It may not be effective in relieving pain.
  • There is a small risk of bruising.
  • There is a small risk of nerve damage.

Ultrasonic Tissue Repair

This innovative procedure employs ultrasound imaging to navigate a probe toward the injured plantar fascia skillfully. Once in position, the probe generates gentle vibrations, effectively disintegrating and eliminating damaged tissue.

This outpatient procedure boasts a brief recovery period, allowing patients to resume their normal routines swiftly. While relatively new, ultrasonic tissue repair has exhibited promising outcomes in terms of pain relief and enhanced functionality for individuals suffering from plantar fasciitis.

Here are some of the benefits of ultrasonic tissue repair:

  • It is minimally invasive, meaning that there is a small incision and less tissue damage.
  • It is effective in relieving pain and improving function.
  • It can be performed on an outpatient basis.
  • The recovery time is short.

Here are some of the risks of ultrasonic tissue repair:

  • There is a small risk of infection.
  • There is a small risk of nerve damage.
  • The pain may not be completely relieved.


In the realm of plantar fasciitis treatment, surgery is not typically the initial course of action. It is reserved for individuals who have not experienced significant improvement even after 12 months of non-surgical interventions. When surgery becomes necessary, there are two primary types of surgical treatments available: gastrocnemius recession and partial plantar fascia release.

  • Gastrocnemius Recession

Gastrocnemius recession is a surgical intervention aimed at elongating the calf muscles. This procedure serves the purpose of alleviating strain on the plantar fascia—a robust tissue band that extends along the underside of the foot.

The procedure is often performed for people who still have difficulty flexing their feet, even after extensive stretching. It can be done with a traditional incision or with an endoscope, a small camera that is inserted into the body through a small incision.

The most common complications of gastrocnemius recession are nerve damage and calf weakness. However, most patients have good results with the procedure.

  • Partial Plantar Fascia Release

Partial plantar fascia release is another surgical procedure that can be used to treat plantar fasciitis. This procedure involves making an incision on the bottom or side of the heel and cutting a small portion of the plantar fascia. This relieves tension in the tissue and can help to reduce pain.

Partial plantar fascia release can also be done with an endoscope, but this is more difficult and has a higher risk of nerve damage.

The most common complications of partial plantar fascia release are nerve damage and not fully relieving pain. However, most patients have good results with the procedure.

  • Recovery

Recovery time after either of these procedures is typically 4-6 weeks. During this time, you will need to wear a cast or boot to protect your foot. You will also need to avoid putting weight on your foot for several weeks.

Remember, if you suspect you have plantar fasciitis, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare provider to discuss the best treatment plan for you.

RestDecrease or stop activities that aggravate pain
IceApply ice packs to heel for 20 minutes several times per day
StretchingCalf and foot stretches, hold for 10 seconds, repeat 20 times
Night splintsKeeps foot flexed overnight to reduce morning pain
Shoe insertsProvide arch support and distribute pressure
Physical therapyStretching, strengthening exercises, athletic taping
MedicationsNSAIDs like ibuprofen to reduce inflammation
OrthoticsCustom arch supports to distribute weight evenly
Advanced treatmentsCortisone injections, PRP injections, shockwave therapy, surgery (last resort)

key points ─ Treatment Options

  • Rest and avoid activities that worsen foot pain.
  • Apply ice to the inflamed area several times a day.
  • Perform stretching and strengthening exercises
  • Use night splints
  • Use shoe inserts
  • Seek physical therapy
  • Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Consider custom orthotics
  • Cortisone Injections for temporary pain relief in severe cases
  • Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections
  • Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) for non-responsive cases.
  • Ultrasonic Tissue Repair
  • Surgery is considered a final option when alternative treatments have unsuccessfully resolved the condition.

How To Prevent Plantar Fasciitis From Hiking ─ Tips For Hikers

The saying, “Prevention is better than cure,” holds true, especially for hiking-related plantar fasciitis. With some preventive measures and smart choices, you can enjoy hiking without the accompanying heel pain. Here’s how:

Plantar Fasciitis And Hiking Boots

Your choice of footwear can significantly impact your risk of developing plantar fasciitis. According to the American Hiking Society, a well-fitting hiking boot with sturdy arch support and cushioned sole can alleviate the stress on your plantar fascia. Moreover, the boots should have enough room for your toes to wiggle but should hold your heel and arch firmly, ensuring the right balance of comfort and support.

The Role of Proper Hiking Techniques

Adopting proper hiking techniques can reduce the strain on your feet. Maintain a moderate pace and avoid overstriding, which can increase pressure on your heel and plantar fascia. When you find yourself hiking downhill, it’s important to maintain a posture that minimizes impact on your joints. One effective technique is to keep your knees slightly bent throughout the descent. This bent-knee position helps absorb the shock and reduces strain on your knees and feet.

If you’re carrying a backpack during your hike, it’s crucial to ensure that it’s not excessively heavy and is properly balanced. Carrying unnecessary weight places additional stress on your feet and can exacerbate fatigue and discomfort.

Stretching and Strengthening Exercises

Incorporating specific stretches and strengthening exercises into your routine can improve foot resilience. Strengthening the muscles in your feet, calves, and legs will enhance your ability to absorb the stress of hiking. Try exercises like calf raises, toe flexes, and towel stretches.

Emphasizing Rest and Recovery

Hiking daily without allowing your body to rest and recover can lead to overuse injuries like plantar fasciitis. Factor in rest days between your hiking trips to let your body recover. Listen to your body—if you start experiencing heel pain, don’t push through it. Rest and seek treatment if necessary.

Incorporating these preventive measures and tips into your hiking routine can significantly reduce the risk of developing plantar fasciitis, ensuring your hiking experiences remain as exhilarating and pain-free as possible.

key points Preventing tips

  • Choose the right footwear.
  • Use proper hiking techniques.
  • Do stretching and strengthening exercises.
  • Emphasize rest and recovery.
  • Warm up before you hike.
  • Cool down after your hike.
  • Stay hydrated.

Don't stop hiking ─ How to Hike with Plantar Fasciitis?

Hiking with plantar fasciitis can be challenging, but with some preparation and care, it is possible to still enjoy the trails.  First, ensure you have proper footwear for hiking that provides good arch support. Boots or trail shoes with a stiff, supportive sole are best to stabilize the foot and prevent excessive pronation that can aggravate the plantar fascia.  Wearing an insert or orthotic can also help support the arch. Take it slow on the trails, allowing time for breaks to rest the feet. Using trekking poles can help reduce tension on the plantar fascia when climbing up or down hills.  Avoid hikes with steep ascents or descents, which put extra strain on the plantar fascia. Apply ice to feet after hiking to reduce inflammation. Gentle stretching of the feet and calves after hiking is also recommended. With some caution, plantar fasciitis doesn’t have to hold you back from the trails.

What are Hiking Boots for Plantar Fasciitis with Arch Support?

When choosing hiking boots for plantar fasciitis, proper arch support is key. Look for boots with a rigid shank in the midsole to provide stability and support under the arch. The boots should also have adequate cushioning in the insole but not be overly soft or flexible.

Many hiking boots now come with custom orthotic insoles that you can remove and replace with your own prescription orthotic insert. A contoured heel cup can also help stabilize the heel and prevent pronation. Boots with a rocker profile with a rounded heel and toe area can facilitate a natural rolling motion of the foot when walking to reduce strain on the plantar fascia. 

Lightweight materials are ideal, as heavy boots can put extra stress on the plantar fascia when lifting the foot. Make sure to break in new boots gradually before attempting long hikes. Consulting with a podiatrist is also recommended for advice on the best hiking boots to accommodate your needs if you have plantar fasciitis.

Best Hiking Boots for Plantar Fasciitis

Here are some top-rated hiking boot options for providing comfort and support when dealing with plantar fasciitis:

  • Oboz Bridger: Has sculpted midsole to cradle the foot, Granite Peak shank for stability, and expanded heel kick for even weight distribution.
  • Asolo TPS 520: Features a stiff composite shank, shock-absorbing EVA midsole, and molded EVA footbed to support the arch.
  • Salomon Quest 4D: Includes a supportive Contagrip sole and 4D Chassis to stabilize each step. Custom orthotics can be inserted.
  • Lowa Renegade: Provides excellent arch support and a Monowrap frame that cradles the heel.
  • Keen Targhee: Has a dual-density compression molded EVA midsole and integrated shank for foot support.
  • Merrell Moab: Contains an air cushion heel, compression-molded EVA foot frame, and stability shank.

Be sure to get properly fitted by a knowledgeable retailer to find the right pair that works for your feet. Break them in slowly before tackling long hikes. Taking care of plantar fasciitis is important for staying active on the trails.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can you hike if you have plantar fasciitis?

A: Hiking with plantar fasciitis can be challenging, but is often possible if you take care of your feet and reduce the pain. The plantar fascia ligament connects your heel bone to your toes and supports the arch of your foot. Plantar fasciitis, commonly known as the plantar fascia, is a common cause of heel pain. It starts as a subtle pain in your heel or arch and heel support in shoes like trail running shoes or a sturdy pair of hiking boots can help. Treatments for plantar fasciitis include arch and heel support, stretching, and resting when it’s worse when you first start to walk. With the right preparation, you may be able to push through the pain caused by hiking and keep your feet healthy.

Q: What activities should I avoid with plantar fasciitis?

A: Avoiding intense pain is key in treating and preventing further damage with plantar fasciitis. Activities that connect your heel and toes, like running and jumping, can overstretch the plantar fascia ligament. Avoid going barefoot, which removes the arch and heel support that shoes provide. Limit activities that cause pain when you first step out of bed or after long periods of sitting. If you have chronic heel pain that doesn’t improve, reducing activities that intensify the pain can help prevent it from getting progressively worse.

Q: Is it OK to go barefoot with plantar fasciitis?

A: Going barefoot is not recommended if you have plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia ligament connects your heel bone to your toes and supports the arch of your foot. Bare feet lack the arch and heel support that shoes provide. Plantar fasciitis causes intense pain in your heel and arch, especially when you first step out of bed in the morning. Going barefoot removes the padding and support your feet need and can make plantar fasciitis worse. Wear shoes with good arch and heel support to reduce pain.

Q: Does plantar fasciitis get progressively worse?

A: In many cases, plantar fasciitis does not continuously get worse over time. With proper treatment and care of your feet, the pain can be managed and prevented from worsening. However, if left untreated, plantar fasciitis can become a chronic, long-term condition. See a podiatrist if you have persistent heel pain for more than a few months that keeps coming back. Getting custom orthotics and doing stretches and exercises for your foot can help treat plantar fasciitis so it does not progress and potentially last for years.

Q: What is commonly mistaken for plantar fasciitis?

A: There are a few foot conditions that cause similar heel pain and are sometimes mistaken for plantar fasciitis:

  • Heel spurs – extra bone growth on the heel bone that causes pain.
  • Arthritis – swelling and damage in the joints of the foot.
  • Stress fractures – small cracks or breaks in the heel bone.
  • Nerve pain – pinched nerves or nerve damage causing pain.

The key difference is that plantar fasciitis specifically causes stabbing pain under and around the heel, especially when taking the first steps after rest. See a doctor to get properly diagnosed if you have chronic or severe heel pain.

Q: Do some people never recover from plantar fasciitis?

A: Most cases of plantar fasciitis will resolve with proper treatment, but some may deal with it long-term or have reoccurring symptoms. Factors like inadequate treatment, high levels of activity, improper footwear, and obesity can prevent full recovery. Getting custom orthotics, doing foot stretches and exercises, losing weight if needed, and finding shoes with good arch support can help. See a podiatrist if the pain lasts more than 6-12 months so they can monitor your condition and help your feet properly heal. While frustrating to deal with, most people find ways to manage their plantar fasciitis.

Q: What’s the longest plantar fasciitis can last?

A: There is no definite timeframe for how long plantar fasciitis will last. With appropriate treatment, most cases resolve within 6-12 months. However, some people have symptoms for several years or require ongoing management. Getting early treatment like orthotics, stretching, and proper shoes can help shorten the duration. Rare chronic cases may never fully resolve, but a podiatrist can help you manage ongoing symptoms and prevent them from worsening over time. The goal is to control inflammation and promote healing so you can stay active. Be patient, take care of your feet daily, and work with a foot doctor.

Q: How long should I stay off my feet with plantar fasciitis?

A: The general recommendation is to avoid prolonged standing or walking for 1-2 weeks at the onset of plantar fasciitis symptoms to help reduce inflammation. But complete rest is not advised long-term, as keeping your foot immobile can make the condition worse once you start moving again. Gentle stretches and moderate walking for short periods is encouraged to promote blood flow and healing. The goal is to find a level of activity that does not cause sharp, intense pain in your heel and arch. Your podiatrist can help advise you on how long to stay off your feet during different stages and suggest ways to keep moving safely.

Q: What are the stages of plantar fasciitis?

A: Plantar fasciitis often progresses through these key stages:

  1. Early Stage – Pain when you take the first steps after resting. It starts subtle and intermittent.
  2. Acute Stage – Sharp, stabbing pain during normal daily activities that may stop you in your tracks. Pain after long periods of sitting.
  3. Chronic Stage – Continuous baseline pain, but has good and bad days. Pain worsens after activity. The plantar fascia ligament thickens.
  4. Recovery Stage – Pain levels and inflammation decrease with treatment. Mobility improves but some pain after long activity may remain.

See a podiatrist if you don’t progress to the recovery stage within 6-12 months. Getting treatment early on can help prevent reaching the chronic stage of plantar fasciitis.

Q: How do you walk all day with plantar fasciitis?

A: Walking all day with plantar fasciitis can be challenging. Here are some tips:

  • Wear supportive shoes with cushioning and arch support to reduce pain in your heel when walking. Swap out athletic shoes when they wear down.
  • Take frequent sitting breaks to stay off your feet when possible
  • Apply ice packs after long periods of walking to decrease inflammation
  • Do calf and foot stretches in the morning, at night, and during breaks
  • Use orthotics or heel cups to support your arch and take pressure off the irritated ligament
  • Take anti-inflammatory medication as needed for pain and swelling
  • Consider a night splint to keep your foot flexed while sleeping and avoid morning pain
  • See a podiatrist for long-term solutions like physical therapy or cortisone injections

The key is to listen to your feet. Slow down or stop if you feel intense pain caused by walking. With proactive care, you can keep your feet healthy and keep moving.

Conclusion ─ Balancing Hiking Passion and Foot Health

As we traverse the trails and pathways of hiking, we’ve uncovered an intricate connection between this much-loved activity and plantar fasciitis. While hiking provides a unique blend of physical challenge and natural beauty, it also places a substantial load on our feet. This consistent and increased strain on the plantar fascia can lead to the inflammation and pain characteristic of plantar fasciitis.

However, developing plantar fasciitis doesn’t mean hanging up your hiking boots for good. You can manage and overcome plantar fasciitis with a thorough understanding of the condition, appropriate treatments, and modifications to your hiking routines. Professional medical help, physical therapy, and rest can aid healing, while long-term adjustments like adopting proper hiking techniques and footwear can make a significant difference.

The importance of preventive measures cannot be overstated. Remember, your hiking gear is not just your backpack and trekking pole—it also includes your physical preparedness. Strengthening exercises, correct footwear, and adequate rest and recovery are equally important for your hiking adventures.

Hiking offers an unrivaled opportunity to immerse yourself in nature, challenge your physical boundaries, and nurture your mental well-being. Let’s not allow plantar fasciitis to overshadow these benefits. By understanding the potential risks, taking steps to manage and prevent foot problems, and knowing when to rest, we can enjoy the outdoors responsibly and healthily—keeping our spirits high and our feet pain-free.



Sarah has been hiking for over five years and is passionate about promoting the mental and emotional benefits of spending time in nature. She has written several articles on the topic and strongly advocates hiking as a form of therapy. Sarah is also a certified yoga instructor, often incorporating yoga and mindfulness practices into her hiking trips. She is dedicated to providing accurate and up-to-date information on trail conditions, difficulty levels, and must-see sights.



Sarah has been hiking for over five years and is passionate about promoting the mental and emotional benefits of spending time in nature. She has written several articles on the topic and strongly advocates hiking as a form of therapy. Sarah is also a certified yoga instructor, often incorporating yoga and mindfulness practices into her hiking trips. She is dedicated to providing accurate and up-to-date information on trail conditions, difficulty levels, and must-see sights.

31 thoughts on “Hiking with Plantar Fasciitis – A Hiker’s Guide to Overcoming Heel Pain during Hikes”

  1. I enjoyed reading this article and I think it provides some great information on plantar fasciitis and how it can be caused by hiking. I especially like the advice to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity of your hikes, and to wear supportive footwear.

    I think it’s also important to be aware of your risk factors for plantar fasciitis, such as being overweight or obese, having flat feet, or having a job that requires a lot of standing. If you are at risk for plantar fasciitis, it’s important to take steps to prevent it, such as stretching your calves and Achilles tendon regularly.

  2. I enjoyed reading this article and I think it provides some helpful information about plantar fasciitis and hiking. I especially like the advice to start slowly and gradually increase your hiking distance and intensity.

    I think it’s also important to wear proper footwear when hiking. Hiking boots or shoes that provide good arch support can help to prevent plantar fasciitis.

    Here are some additional tips for preventing plantar fasciitis while hiking:

    ☻ Stretch your calves and Achilles tendon regularly.
    ☻ Wear supportive footwear.
    ☻ Avoid hiking on hard surfaces.
    ☻ Take breaks often and walk barefoot on soft surfaces.
    If you do develop plantar fasciitis, see a doctor or physical therapist for treatment.

  3. I’m not sure if hiking can cause plantar fasciitis, but I’m pretty sure it can aggravate it. I know from experience!

  4. I’m going to start hiking with a group of friends, because they can help me carry my pack if I get plantar fasciitis.

  5. If you’re planning a long hike, it’s a good idea to start training your feet a few weeks in advance. This will help to prevent plantar fasciitis.

  6. Yes, hiking can cause plantar fasciitis. It’s a common condition that causes pain in the heel and arch of the foot. It’s caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot.

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    The clear descriptions of different pollutants and their potential effects on hikers’ respiratory systems are illuminating. I learned so much about the impacts of ozone, particulate matter, and other pollutants. The tips for protecting yourself when hiking in moderate to hazardous conditions are extremely valuable as well. Wearing the right mask, knowing when to turn around, and limiting strenuous activity in poor air quality can literally be lifesavers.

    I also appreciate the thoughtful perspective on balancing risk factors and individual health considerations. The writer makes valid points about how moderate or unhealthy air may be manageable for some hikers, while quite dangerous for others. This nuanced take shows care and concern for every hiker’s wellbeing. Thank you for providing such a thorough and thoughtful public service guide. It has made me rethink my own approach to assessing air quality before hitting the trails.

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  16. Kampus Terbaik

    How does the passage suggest individuals can conquer trails without succumbing to plantar fasciitis?

    1. Here are a few key ways the passage suggests individuals can conquer trails without succumbing to plantar fasciitis:

      Wear proper hiking shoes/boots with adequate arch support, cushioning, and shock absorption to reduce strain on the plantar fascia. Break them in gradually.
      Use orthotic inserts if you have flat feet or other foot issues that need extra support. Custom orthotics molded to your feet work best.
      Take frequent breaks during hikes to get off your feet and gently stretch/massage the plantar fascia.
      Strengthen your feet and lower legs with exercises like toe curls, heel/calf raises, and using foot exercise balls. Build muscle support.
      Lose excess weight to reduce stress on the plantar fascia and impact on the feet during hikes.
      Use trekking poles to lessen strain on the feet and Achilles tendon when going uphill or downhill.
      If pain develops, immediately stop hiking, elevate the feet, and apply ice packs to reduce inflammation.
      See a podiatrist if pain persists for professional treatment like taping, night splints, physical therapy exercises, or steroid injections.
      The key is prevention by providing proper foot support and conditioning. But prompt rest and treatment is critical at the first twinges of plantar fasciitis pain on the trail. Gradually building up mileage and terrain can help avoid injury.

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