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Plantar Fasciitis and Barefoot Shoes

If you’ve found your way to this page, you’re probably all too familiar with that nagging pain in your heel when you step out of bed in the morning, and can make even the simple act of walking painful. Several years ago, when plantar fasciitis first cropped up for me (before my barefoot journey, and actually the reason I got passionate about foot health!), I was absolutely desperate for relief.

heel pain, barefoot shoes and plantar fasciitis

I’m here to tell you that I’m so sorry that you’re suffering, and I understand how debilitating plantar fasciitis can be. It can be devastating to not be able to participate in the activities that bring you joy - or activities you just need to do to get through your day!

But I’m also here to tell you that there is hope. Your body - feet included(!) - are absolutely resilient and able to heal if you give them the proper care and attention.

Why is this happening??

Did you know that the main culprit and the leading cause of plantar fasciitis is conventional footwear? The shoes that most people wear every day, with elevated heels, narrowed toe boxes, a fixed toe spring, and rigid sole are to blame for most cases of PF. (No shame if this is you!) 

A raised heel, lifted toe, & narrowed toe box can all lead to plantar fasciitis.

With traditional footwear, the way that the shoe holds your big toe up (toe spring) and in (taper) actually restricts blood flow to the plantar fascia - by 22%! As the blood flow to this area is decreased, the tissues naturally begin to degenerate. So actually, plantar fasciitis is a circulatory issue, rather than an inflammatory condition, as is commonly believed.

Which means that a more accurate name for it would be plantar fasciosis (“osis” meaning tissue death) rather than plantar fasciitis (“itis” meaning inflammation).

(If you’re interested in diving deeper into the science of this, this video does an excellent job of explaining it!)

Another problem with conventional shoes that can lead to plantar fasciitis is the elevated heel, which keeps your calves in a chronically shortened position. With your heel constantly propped up by the height of your shoe, your calf literally doesn’t have a chance to stretch out all day! This can lead to chronic calf tightness (among a myriad of other body alignment issues), which is also a contributor to plantar fasciitis/osis.

(Notice the amazing difference in calf length between these two pictures! While the first photo shows a higher heel than your average daily-wear shoe, even a small heel lift will shorten your calf. Also: my model, who is only ever barefoot or in barefoot shoes, was BEGGING me to take the shoes off after only a few seconds of wearing them!)

While there may be other underlying causes, most cases of plantar fasciitis can be resolved or prevented by wearing shoes that allow the toes to splay and the calves to extend to their full length while standing and walking. 

earth runners, plantar fasciitis and barefoot shoes
Earth Runner sandals for maximum foot freedom!

Utilizing toe spacers can also be extremely helpful in expediting the healing process and regaining strength and increasing blood flow to the bottom of your foot. If you’re walking around in a pair of properly fitting Correct Toes or Gait Happens spacers, all the little muscles in your feet will be working just like they’re supposed to - meaning your feet are getting stronger just by going about your daily life. (Use my code: BarefootGuide10 for 10% off the Gait Happens spacers!)

correct toes and plantar fasciitis

Thankfully, armed with this knowledge, there is a ton you can do to begin to remedy your painful situation.


  • Choose shoes that allow your feet to remain in the same position as they would barefoot!!!

  • Wear toe spacers (only anatomically designed ones!)

  • Extensor stretch to relieve tension in the plantar fascia (this counteracts all that time you've spent in shoes with a toe spring!) Start by doing this seated, and progress to standing as you're ready.

Extensor foot stretch, plantar fasciitis and barefoot shoes
Extensor stretch
  • Stretch your calves and work out any knots with a lacrosse ball or your thumbs

plantar fasciitis and barefoot shoes, calf stretch
Easy calf stretch
  • Dry needling (done by a physical therapist) is a very effective, albeit intense, way to release tension in your calves, bringing relief to your heel pain 

  • Use heat to bring in blood flow to rejuvenate those tissues

  • Roll the bottom of your feet on a ball! (Anything from a LaCrosse ball to a large bouncy ball will work. You can also find spiky balls for extra stimulation!) This will release the plantar fascia tissues, as well and restore blood flow to the area.

plantar fasciitis exercises, rolling foot on ball
So many options!
  • Practice short foot to activate and strengthen your intrinsic foot muscles

If you’re really dedicated to healing your plantar fasciitis/osis and want expert guidance along the way, I highly recommend the Fit Feet course by Gait Happens. I’ve worked with these doctors personally, and they’re the reason I’m able to walk and run pain free today. (You can use my code BarefootGuide10 for 10% off!)


If you're like me, you've spent the majority of your life in footwear that has altered and restricted your foot's ability to function optimally. And if you're experiencing heel pain, your body is trying to tell you that it wants something different! For me, it was a (physically and emotionally!) difficult process, but I'm so grateful that I was able to experience healing by mindfully switching to barefoot shoes. I'm so hopeful that you'll be able to acheive full healing as well!

Your Barefoot Guide,


If you’re interested in learning more about the science of the correlation between plantar fasciosis and footwear, read this!



Hey, I'm Kim!

I'm so happy you're here.

I believe that your feet are the foundation for full body strength, and living a barefoot lifestyle is key to moving through your years with joy and freedom.

Join me as we live our best barefoot lives together.


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