Plantar Fasciitis: What The Experts Aren’t Telling You About Orthotics

When it comes to figuring out why you continue to struggle with plantar fasciitis, there’s a lot the experts aren’t telling you about orthotics.

The inconvenient truth is, like so many of their recommendations orthotics are only controlling the symptoms.

Feet that have little to do with why you’ve been dealing with plantar fasciitis for all of this time.  

If we’re being honest, the experts don’t know which muscles are tight.  And they also don’t know which muscles are weak.  

For you!  Not the ten people that walked through the same door with plantar fasciitis before you.  

When they do focus on your muscles, they’re only throwing a Band-Aid at why you and everybody else that’s been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis has a difficult time taking those first few steps in the morning.

It’s as if you were walking on a sheet of ice. But yet, the environment couldn’t be any more stable.   

What about those days where you do more walking than your body has become accustomed to?   

On those days, your feet are barking even more. And that’s because muscles are fatiguing.  Something orthotics, Kinesiology Tape, and the one-size-fits-all calf stretch aren’t capable of addressing.      

No matter how much they want to believe orthotics improve how your feet come into the ground, or even leave the ground, nothing could be further from the truth.

Without orthotics, it’s relatively easy for your foot to come in contact with the ground.  

Said another way, this is the part where they tell you that your foot is rolling in too much (i.e., over-pronation).

What they aren’t telling you is, muscles have to pull your feet in the opposite direction. Which happens to be going against the pull of gravity (i.e., supination).

And that’s why muscles are fatiguing.  

That’s also why your calf muscles get tighter.

It’s a vicious cycle. (emphasis added)

And no matter what you’ve been told prior to reading this, orthotics aren’t doing anything to help with muscle weakness or tightness.  

Instead, orthotics are only contributing to the underlying problem.  

In fact, because of gravity and the position in which your foot is forced to start to move from, orthotics make it (much!) more difficult for your muscles to pull everything back home.

Therefore, orthotics are adding to how your body chooses to compensate for the pain in your foot.  And, not in a good way!

If the experts weren’t caught in the bubble of what psychologists refer to as selective perception, by now, good old fashion logic should have left some clues as to why orthotics are doing more harm than good.  

For starters, “custom” orthotics aren’t going to make the weak muscles stronger.  

But they will make the muscles that were strong weaker.  


Since the majority of the muscles throughout your chain attach to your pelvis, it’s possible that muscles that aren’t located in your feet aren’t capable of overcoming gravity at the right time.  

If you haven’t considered the role those muscles play in all of this; the majority of those muscles go from your trunk to your pelvis, and from your pelvis to your thigh.  There’s even a muscle that goes from your trunk to your thigh.

What about all of those muscles? 

When all of those muscles are capable of working together, from the top-down, they’re capable of doing some heavy lifting.  

When the muscles that attach to your pelvis aren’t capable of doing all of that lifting, your feet are going to be forced to take on more than they’re capable of handling.

And that’s why when you ask more from your feet – they end up hurting more. 


Before you started feeling like you had to start searching for some serious answers on plantar fasciitis, it’s possible that those muscles were capable of pulling their weight.      

Rather than the experts spending *your* time addressing all of the muscles that attach to your pelvis, it’s much easier to tell you that your feet are no longer capable of holding themselves up.  

As if out of nowhere, your feet suddenly got weaker. 🙄  

[ Sidebar: If you want to know why so many people end up buying orthotics, you’ll want to read, The Confidence Game (affiliate) and Suggestible You: The Curious Science of Your Brain’s Ability to Deceive, Transform, and Heal (affiliate). ]

After they recommend orthotics, they might go the extra mile and recommend stretches that you could read in a magazine any month of the year.  And when they’re feeling extra fancy, they might even recommend a Strassburg Sock (i.e., night splint).


Since you’re spending the time to figure out how you’re going to get out from under all the symptoms that go right along with plantar fasciitis, wouldn’t you prefer to come out the other side performing so much better that plantar fasciitis is in your rear-view for good?  

With symptom management, you’re walking on thin ice.   

In a Field Guide To Lies: Critical Thinking in The Information Age (affiliate), Levitin writes,“The second way experts talk is to just share their opinions.  They are human. Like the rest of us, they can be given to stories, to spinning loose threads of their own introspections, what-ifs, and untested ideas.  There’s nothing wrong with this–some good, testable ideas come from this sort of associative thinking–but it should not be confused with a logical, evidence-based argument.”    

Up until now, you’ve been getting advice that comes straight out of first-layer knowledge.

First-layer knowledge that is only focusing on your feet. 

<figure><img src="" alt= "running shoes interacting with the ground" width="500" Height="500" /></figure>

For more information, hover over this image.

In the not-too-distant future, much like MONEYBALL is to Major League Baseball and many other sports, I can envision analytics providing us with valuable information that shows how often the experts are failing you and most of the individuals that are struggling with plantar fasciitis.

With analytics readily available to anyone that is dealing with plantar fasciitis, the cookie-cutter approach to doing the same things with everybody will be much harder to pull off.

Before we dive into more of the misinformation or first-layer knowledge that’s given out on plantar fasciitis, let’s first determine who the experts are.

If we follow the herd or base our decision on a social judgment, a Podiatrist is more than likely going to be given the title of an expert on all things related to your feet.

The problem with that way of thinking is, that would mean that every person that holds the title of Podiatrist is an expert on how your feet interact with the ground.

This, at a time when the majority of those experts want to bring the ground up to meet your feet with orthotics.  

Orthotics they claim are customized for you.

Whether anybody cares enough to want to admit it or not, orthotics aren’t even meant for human feet.  

So how can they be customized for anybody?  

It’s like having pebbles in your shoes. In order avoid those pebbles on every step, your feet will find a workaround.

Since we’re not only talking about your feet here, compensating to avoid those pebbles in your shoes is going to wreak havoc on how other areas of your chain move.  (For more information, hover over the image above.)

And believe it or not, those other areas have more to do with why you’re dealing with plantar fasciitis than your feet do.

This is your base of support we’re talking about.  Your foundation!

Unlike the foundation of your house, your feet are supposed to move in three different directions at the right time.

When your feet are forced to function with orthotics, there’s no way to get around all of that artificial support.  

Therefore, instead of your feet going in the same direction as the pull of gravity, orthotics are forcing your feet to go in the opposite direction.  Which ends up being the opposite direction at the wrong time. 


Since your feet and the entire chain are not supposed to be forced to go in that direction at that time, your feet have no choice but to come in contact with the ground much harder than they’re supposed to.

<figure><img src="" alt= "custom orthotics prescribed by podiatrist for plantar fasciitis" width="500" Height="375" /></figure>

When it comes to getting out from under all of the different ways that plantar fasciitis impacts your life, knowing where to look for answers is not so obvious.

And when you don’t know what you don’t know, it’s even more difficult to find legitimate answers.

Stepping into the office of an expert with plantar fasciitis thinking that it’s obviously a problem with your feet is the problem!

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.  It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.


– Mark Twain (maybe)

You’re better off clearing what you think you know about plantar fasciitis out of your mind.

And if you don’t, you’re opening yourself up to wasting a tremendous amount of time on Band-Aids that are only capable of addressing the symptoms.

The good news is, second-layer knowledge tells a completely different story

Which is, plantar fasciitis has little to do with your feet.  🙂 



If you found this post to be educational, and you know somebody that’s struggling with plantar fasciitis, I would greatly appreciate you sharing this post. You can do this by emailing it to a friend, family member, colleague or feel free to share it on Facebook. 

A BIG thanks in advance.  🙂

Thanks for taking the time to read this post!  If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to Engaging Muscles.  You can also like Engaging Muscles on Facebook, subscribe to my YouTube Channel or feel free to connect with me on Twitter @rickmerriam

Books mentioned (affiliate): 

A field Guide to Lies by Daniel J. Levitin

The Confidence Game by Maria Konnikova

Suggestible You by Erik Vance


Photo Credit: zolaczakl ( 2 million views, thanks everyone) Flickr via Compfight cc

photo credit: Dr. Mark Kubert Fitting Orthotics via photopin (license)

Plantar Fasciitis: What The Experts Aren't Telling You About Orthotics
Article Name
Plantar Fasciitis: What The Experts Aren't Telling You About Orthotics
There are a lot of things the experts aren't telling their patients about how to best get over plantar fasciitis. Even though I mention some other contributing factors, the reality is custom orthotics are only capable of driving your foot away from the area where the pain is. Which looks a lot like chasing the pain. Since this has been going on for quite some time now, at what point will they start to ask a different question? A better question.
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I have held a license to practice massage therapy for over 20 years. For the first 18 years of my career, I was a nationally certified personal trainer. During that time, I completed thousands of one-on-one personal training sessions. I went on to teach biomechanics to personal trainers, group exercise instructors, and physical therapists throughout New England. I worked as a sports massage therapist at ESPN. Over the last few years, I have been quoted in Runner’s World UK, Massage Therapy & Bodywork, Massage Magazine, IDEA Fitness Journal, Massage & Fitness Magazine, and The Guardian Liberty Voice. I have also served as an applied biomechanics consultant for the fitness staff at Canyon Ranch, The Greenbrier, and ESPN. For the last 8 years, I've been teaching applied anatomy & kinesiology at Parker University. I have a private sports massage therapy practice in Dallas, Texas.