father and son feet on a beachMany people (about 10%) experience heel pain or plantar fasciitis at some point in their life. This common foot condition develops due to many contributing factors. You may have wondered whether this condition can be inherited.

The answer is, sort of.

It turns out that while the condition itself is not inherited, the foot type and other body mechanics that contribute to its development are genetic.

What Is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is the most common type of heel pain. It develops when enough force is placed on the plantar fascia which runs along the bottom of the foot. If you experience pain in the heel of your foot when you first get out of bed in the morning, you most likely have this condition.

Hereditary Factors in Developing Plantar Fasciitis

Foot Type

While a person with any foot type can develop plantar fasciitis, people with flat feet or very low arches are most at risk. That’s because people with flat feet tend to overpronate, causing the plantar fascia to overstretch. When this foot structure overstretches small tears occur at the bottom of the heel causing the inflammation and pain of plantar fasciitis.

People with high arches are also more prone to developing plantar fasciitis.

Equinus or Tight Calf Muscles

Equinus or tight calf muscles can also be inherited. It is also a common contributing factor to development of plantar fasciitis. People with tight calf muscles end up altering the way they move to compensate for limited ankle motion. Most often this leads to flattening the arch which puts stress on the plantar fascia. However, in addition to heredity a shortened or tight calf muscle can also develop from wearing high heels.

This means even a person with a neutral foot type can develop plantar fasciitis if they also have tight calf muscles.  

Other Risk Factors for Developing Plantar Fasciitis

Other risk factors for developing this painful condition include:

  • Runners and other athletes – people who are involves in high impact sports also place a lot of stress of the plantar fascia.
  • Women tend to develop it more often then men
  • Overweight or obesity – extra weight also places more strain on the plantar fascia.
  • Pregnancy – due to rapid weight gain
  • Poor footwear – wearing unsupportive shoes

Treatment of Hereditary Factors

Fortunately both flat feet and tight calf muscles can be treated.

Flat feet are often discovered in early childhood around age five or six. Before then flat feet are considered normal. Even young children can be treated with orthotics to correct the way they walk and prevent pain from developing.

While over-the-counter orthotics can sometimes help with mild plantar fasciitis, most commonly patients will need to be cast for custom orthotics. The latter type of orthotics will more fully correct faulty foot mechanics.

Tight calf muscles are treated by taking on a fairly aggressive stretching program. While many providers advocate wall stretches, our office provides an Achilles splint that can be used during the day for stretches lasting 30 mins. The latter type of stretching program is much more effective in alleviating tight calf muscles. Learn more about how to resolve calf tightness here!

To get relief from plantar fasciitis, call our office at 206-368-7000 or request an appointment today.

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