Strength training for plantar fasciitis and the intrinsic foot musculature: A systematic review

Phys Ther Sport. 2017 Mar:24:44-52. doi: 10.1016/j.ptsp.2016.08.008. Epub 2016 Aug 18.


The aim was to critically evaluate the literature investigating strength training interventions in the treatment of plantar fasciitis and improving intrinsic foot musculature strength. A search of PubMed, CINHAL, Web of Science, SPORTSDiscus, EBSCO Academic Search Complete and PEDRO using the search terms plantar fasciitis, strength, strengthening, resistance training, intrinsic flexor foot, resistance training. Seven articles met the eligibility criteria. Methodological quality was assessed using the modified Downs and Black checklist. All articles showed moderate to high quality, however external validity was low. A comparison of the interventions highlights significant differences in strength training approaches to treating plantar fasciitis and improving intrinsic strength. It was not possible to identify the extent to which strengthening interventions for intrinsic musculature may benefit symptomatic or at risk populations to plantar fasciitis. There is limited external validity that foot exercises, toe flexion against resistance and minimalist running shoes may contribute to improved intrinsic foot musculature function. Despite no plantar fascia thickness changes being observed through high-load plantar fascia resistance training there are indications that it may aid in a reduction of pain and improvements in function. Further research should use standardised outcome measures to assess intrinsic foot musculature strength and plantar fasciitis symptoms.

Keywords: Heel pain (Heel); Intrinsic foot muscles (Intrinsic); Plantar fasciitis (Plantar); Resistance training (Strength).

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Fasciitis, Plantar / physiopathology
  • Fasciitis, Plantar / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Muscle Stretching Exercises
  • Pain Measurement
  • Resistance Training / methods*