Plantar Fasciitis: Kick it to the Curb with Shockwave

By Unpain Clinic on November 12, 2019

It’s Awful and it Keeps Coming Back.”

Does this sound familiar to you?  This is one of the most common complaints clients voice when suffering from plantar fasciitis, a condition that presents as pain in the heel and/or arch of the foot.  It can feel like you are literally walking on something sharp, like broken glass or push pins.

Plantar fasciitis is defined as inflammation of the fascia covering the muscles on the sole of the foot.  It is often searing, stabbing pain on movement with lingering soreness to the touch.  It doesn’t matter how it happened or who you are, plantar fasciitis can be debilitating when left untreated. 

The majority of studies show shockwave therapy is an effective treatment for plantar fasciitis.1   So why the heck are so many Canadians still rolling their feet on frozen water bottles?  The answer is quite simple – most don’t know about shockwave and some don’t think it works.  Maybe you’ve tried it but the treatment provided no relief.  The problem, in some cases, is the source of the condition, which can originate from somewhere seemingly unrelated.  If you don’t find and treat the cause of the problem, it will often come back.

How Does it Develop?

According to a 2015 epidemiological study, the 3 most common causes of plantar fasciitis are: obesity, manual occupations and physical inactivity.2 Basically, if you overdo it, underdo it or gain a few pounds, you are at risk.  What’s more, some clients struggle with the condition for years – even decades – without relief.

At Unpain Clinic, we see the condition as a problem with imbalances.  Our bodies are amazing marvels of engineering.  Many parts work seamlessly to allow us to move freely.  A body in balance is strong and functional; a body out of balance is a recipe for injury.  In many cases, plantar fasciitis is only a symptom with an underlying cause elsewhere in the body.

The Kinetic Chain

When you were a child, you could run and play for hours with little risk of injury. Now, you get out of bed the wrong way and you could end up in physio.  What happened? 

The kinetic chain refers to the relationship between the muscles from your toes to the top of your head and all that is in between.  Imbalances in the chain, however small, can have large and lasting impact on seemingly unrelated areas of the body. 

As we age, we form habits and distinct movement patterns.  These are what contribute to tightness and hypermobility, over or under developed muscles and, ultimately, imbalances.  This is why we are typically more prone to injury as we age. 

“I’ve Had to Stop Doing What I Love.”

One of the common comments voiced on many 1st visits.  This is not only an inconvenience but a challenge to a person’s identity.   The marathon runner who misses her next race – for which she spent 2 years qualifying.  The grandfather who cannot walk Disney with his grandchildren.  The dad who has stopped playing tennis with his kids. 

For many clients experiencing plantar fasciitis, the traditional approach to care would be to find an aggravating stimulus and remove it.  A therapist may believe it is an overuse injury and the client must reduce or remove the activity that is causing the problem. 

In some ways, it makes sense; however, that cannot be the sustainable solution.  The client reduces the activity, diligently performs his/her exercises and attends physiotherapy 2x per week.  In many cases, things improve.  Unfortunately, as soon as the activity is added back into everyday life, the problem returns. 

The Unpain Approach

You have been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis.  A good therapist will treat the plantar fascia.  A great therapist will look for tightness in the calf muscles and address that, while also treating the plantar fascia.  You may have some take home exercises to perform for your next visit. 

An Unpain therapist has an entirely different approach.  They search for the cause of the calf tightness in the first place, such as a low back problem, treating that before anything else.  While they also provide symptomatic treatment of the plantar fascia for pain relief, the main goal is to prevent recurrence by treating the source.

Your Next (Pain-Free) Steps

With the cause of the problem removed, there is little chance of the return of the symptom.  In most cases, we recommend continuing regular activities during treatment as a true gauge of improvement. 

If you’ve suffered for years, Unpain Clinic is equipped to get you back on your feet in just a few weeks. Don’t believe it? Listen to Wendy’s story about her plantar fasciitis treatment at Unpain Clinic.

Looking for more info? Visit Unpain Clinic Shockwave Therapies to find out more about what shockwave is and which types of technologies are offered at Unpain Clinic.


Written by Katherine Luknowsky, BKin

  1. Li, X., Zhang, L., Gu, S., Sun, J., Qin, Z., Yue, J., . . . Gao, R. (2018). Comparative effectiveness of extracorporeal shock wave, ultrasound, low-level laser therapy, noninvasive interactive neurostimulation, and pulsed radiofrequency treatment for treating plantar fasciitis. Medicine, 97(43). doi:10.1097/md.0000000000012819
  2. Chatterton BD, Muller S, Roddy E. Epidemiology of posterior heel pain in the general population: cross-sectional findings from the clinical assessment study of the foot. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2015;67(7):996-1003.