Injury to the plantar fascia, whether acute or chronic, is common among many populations. A conventional multiple-treatment approach is commonly administered by health care providers, consisting of controlling inflammation, managing pain, and promoting healing. Frequently, the initial treatment for plantar fasciitis is targeted at increasing dorsiflexion range of motion by stretching the gastroc-soleus musculature. It has been theorized that inflexibility of the gastroc-soleus complex can lead to excessive pronation and overcompensation of the plantar fascia at the first metatarsal phalangeal joint, therefore increasing the stress at the medial calcaneal insertion. Therefore, it is deemed that gastrocnemius–soleus stretches are a beneficial treatment in the initial stage of a plantar fasciitis treatment or rehabilitation program.
Focused Clinical Question:
Is a gastrocnemius–soleus stretching program, as a stand-alone treatment variable, effective in the treatment of plantar fasciitis?
The authors are with the Div of Athletic Training, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA.