PF recovery and minimalist shoes

Coming back from a long period off with PF. Having done a fair amount of reading around it seems many of the barefoot community have recovered from PF by a careful transition which helps the foot recover its strength. Has anyone had any experience of this and how did they go about it?. Logic would suggest that our bodies are designed to move well without shoes so do orthotics and motion control shoes and such like in reality cause injuries? I appreciate that there will be many views but has anyone on here benefited by trying this?


  • Hi Johnny,

    I'm currently treating someone who developed PF trying to transition into barefoot running - I wouldn't assume it'll help your PF it could well make it worse. There are a few things to consider and really it depends on the cause of your PF.

    In most cases of PF the plantar fascia becomes overloaded. The question is then why is the fascia being overloaded? It can be because of tight or weak calf muscles, poor foot posture, excessive mileage, poor movement control etc. Simply changing to barefoot running without addressing these wont deal with the cause.

    The shoe vs barefoot debate is a huge topic and one technique won't suit everyone or every situation. Barefoot runners tend to forefoot strike which places greater load on the calf and Achilles. The Achilles blends with the plantar fascia so this could increase load on that too. Stability shoes tend to have a well developed arch support which can place pressure on the plantar fascia and irritate it as well. Sometimes the best solution is a neutral or stability shoe with a lot of cushioning to prevent this. I have seen some success with the Hoka one ones with PF in ultra marathon runners. That said it depends very much on each individual.

    The research behind management of PF supports calf stretches, plantar fascial stretches and calf strengthening but currently there is little or no research on shoe selection or barefoot running. Personally I would try established treatments first and be very cautious about the barefoot approach. I wouldn't rule it out, but neither would I expect it to be a cure.

    Hope that makes sense!

  • I've been transitioning into minamalist running shoes after developing PF.  I tend to run in them twice a week, both easy and shortish runs (max four miles so far).

    Last weeks total mileage was 47 miles, so the PF isn't holding me back; it tends to burn my heel to begin with, but once I'm warmed up, it's fine.  When I sit at a desk - like now - it sometimes burns too.

    Does the barefoot running help?  I don't know.  Sorry.  I've done some extensive interweb based research on PF (I know I know) and it seems there's nothing definate.  Mrs Easy is a quality standard club runner and she developed PF after about 10 years of running, she didn't do much to treat it, though she did reduce her mileage and eventually after some months it cleared up of it's own accord.

    Had she had/used steroid injections/orthotics/golf ball massage/frozen bottle massage/spints in bed, etc,  I bet she'd swear those things worked; but she did none of it.

    It's tough to find a sure fire cure for PF, but if you run properly in barefoot trainers, transitioning carefully, I doubt we'll cause further damage; very little impact happens on the heel with a forefoot landing; the heel just kinda touches the ground.


    I'm a Geordie and no expert; don't trust what I say.


  • I'm trying Hoka One One Stinsons at the mo to see of they help resolve/reduce my PF.   there are quite a few success stories using these for PF recovery so might as well give them a go!   in some ways they're counter intuitive to the barefoot approach as they are deeply padded (superb for odd road seemingly) and the design "rolls" you into a midfoot strike so they do take some getting used to.

    so far they seem to be doing a good job and post-run PF pain is less/non-existent at times.  the downside is that I have picked up a calf pull which is curtailing my running at the mo - not sure if that is connected with adapting to the Hokas or not - so I've not run for 10 days. back to it later this week

  • Can you use orthotics with the Hoka's?

  • I don't know if you can, but I guess you could try - the shoes come up as a tight fit anyway so you might find the orthotics making less room available.  I had orthotics in my Nimbus but haven't taken them over into the Hokas and not felt any problems.

    had a run in them this morning - about 5k - more to test of the calf was OK.  result - calf OK, PF OK.   so maybe the light is appearing on the horizon!

  • Well since we have a treadmill at home I'm going to give it a try. I will go easy at it and report back if it works.

    I do attend to my PF with all the stretches and exercises but feel confused by how I got it in the first place - I never used to wear footwear around the house and spent years doing barefoot type sports (martial arts) and never suffered then after 6 years of running with no discernible change I get PF. there has to be a reason so many runners get these kind of injuries...

    Thanks for the advice on shoes budda.
  • This is purely anecdotal, I know, but a guy at Mrs Easy's running club - a runner with decades and decades of experience - and who is also big into barefoot running (real barefoot running; not just minamalist training shoes; he goes around a track regularly barefoot) is not running because of PF.

    It makes me think that 'weak feet' aren't a cause of PF.  There doesn't seem to be much rhyme or reason when it comes to this injury.

  • I'm getting rely fed up with my PF.. No surprise!

    I, like most PF sufferers have done extensive research on-line about the condition and how best to deal with it. I keep coming up with the same mixed messages..

    Some say rest and give the foot plenty of support and others say work the foot (within reason), to strengthen it.

    What to do? I'm not only frustrated but really bored now and even think twice about how much I walk my dogs (who are also getting bored with it), and I think look a little less fit due to their lack of exercise.

    So, di I bind my foot up or let it strengthen up by using it. I have no plans of running any marathons but I relay need to get moving for all of our sakes..

    Any advice would be most gratefully received.

  • Hi Rick - Not sure the research is logical enough - hence differing opinions.

    its pretty easy to reason cause and what to do. It's an overload problem. If something becomes overloaded, by definition something else becomes "under loaded".

    Take the excessive load off of the PF and put more load through the underloaded tissue.

    So don't stretch, poke or rub your PF - it's already overloaded enough. Get more length through your calf muscles by releasing them but not by stretching (they're tight and will just increase the load through the PF). Release by massagey type stuff and rolling. Control the motion of your foot (right shoe, welly etc with the right support) and go to town on single leg balance work - keeping control of your foot, not strength.

    Yes you may have a restricted big toe and poor gluts BUT after the amount of hassle you're having with your PF go for the obvious first - be religious with this stuff for a month then reassess. Stick to your guns!

  • Wonder Woman: I've tried my orthotics in Hokas and like fat buddha says, there wasn't much room in there! The shoes were definitely big enough length and width wise - a wee bit TOO big even - but the upper bit of the toe box felt far too close to the tops of my toes - not enough wiggle room for me!

    Despite the huge amount of cushioning, Hokas come under the 'barefoot' minimalist umbrella by dint of having a smaller heel-toe differential than most other normal running shoes. I don't think any of them are proper zero drop, think most of them are 4-5mm...

    I know quite a few ultra runners who swear by Hokas for PF niggles. image

  • since switching to Hokas, my PF has gone and remains gone for some time now.  but maybe also cutting back on running, stretching and taping before runs also helped - but I for one won't be switching away from my Hokas just in case!

Sign In or Register to comment.