Plantar Fasciitis and The Big Toe Joint

Plantar fasciitis, that painful heel condition starting your day on a not so happy note when first getting out of bed (or even after sitting/rest), is the most common heel pathology diagnosis.  Plantar fasciitis can be treated in many ways. However, addressing the true cause of it, typically faulty biomechanics, is the most important issue for long term success.

Faulty biomechanics may be addressed in a few ways:

  1. Physical therapy via muscle strengthening, etc.
  2. Appropriate footwear that helps your feet have improved support and alignment.
  3. Foot orthotics for the most improved alignment.

Either way, it is the big toe joint function that needs the most attention.  Why? The excess pull or strain of the plantar fascia, specifically the medial or inside band of fascia, is typically the culprit in plantar fasciitis.  This is because that band of fascia originates near the heel bone and then attaches to the soft tissue about the big toe joint.  If the joint is not appropriately bending at exactly the right moment during push off, it will cause an excessive strain or pull on the fascia.  Thus, this repetitive strain with every step ends up in painful plantar fasciitis.

This image shows that bending the big toe joint affects the plantar fascia. The callous on the side is also an indicator that faulty biomechanics is occurring.

The function of this joint is why many shoes and over the counter orthotics fail to resolve the issue.  They are not helping the joint bend when it needs to bend.  When it cannot bend when it needs to, your body will typically make an adjustment that causes increased fascial strain. This may also lead to other issues such as hip and back pain.

Therefore, when obtaining any type of footwear or orthotic, be sure it helps the big toe joint bend at the appropriate time. This is the best chance of success in resolving your plantar fasciitis, as well as other ailments too.