Date of Award


Document type


Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


First Advisor

Joseph Hamill

Second Advisor

Richard Van Emmerik

Third Advisor

Jane Kent-Braun

Subject Categories



Purpose: The purpose of this dissertation was to determine the effects of chronic plantar fasciitis on intrinsic foot structures with respect to biomechanics, muscle atrophy and muscle energetics. This was accomplished in three parts. Methods: In Part I, a three-dimensional motion capture system with a synchronized force platform quantified multi-segment foot model kinematics and ground reaction forces associated with walking. Healthy individuals were compared to individuals with chronic plantar fasciitis feet. Typical kinematic variables, measures of coupling, phase and variability were examined in rearfoot, forefoot and hallux segments. In Part II, foot and leg magnetic resonance images were taken in subjects with unilateral plantar fasciitis so that within each subject, the healthy limb could be compared to the plantar fasciitis limb. Cross sectional areas (CSA) of the plantar intrinsic foot muscles (PIFM) and tibialis posterior muscle were computed from user-digitized images. In Part III, the metabolic demands of the PIFM were evaluated using phosphorous magnetic resonance spectroscopy at rest and after barefoot walking. Muscle pH and the ratio of inorganic phosphate to phosphocreatine (Pi/PCr) were compared in healthy and plantar fasciitis feet. Results: In comparison to healthy feet, plantar fasciitis feet exhibited significantly (p < 0.05): 1) greater rearfoot motion, 2) greater sagittal plane forefoot motion, 3) fewer rearfoot-forefoot frontal anti-phase movements, 4) reduced rearfoot-forefoot transverse coordinative variability, 5) greater first metatarsophalangeal (FMPJ) joint dorsiflexion, 6) greater FMPJ-medial longitudinal arch (MLA) coupling variability, and 7) decreased vertical ground reaction forces at propulsion. Also, plantar fasciitis feet had 5.2% smaller PIFM CSA at the forefoot compared to contralateral healthy feet. No CSA differences were seen in the rearfoot PIFM or at the tibialis posterior muscle. The PIFM of healthy and PF feet were not significantly different in resting intracellular levels of pH or Pi/PCr, and there were no significant differences in the increase of Pi/PCr from rest to postwalking. Conclusions: In Part I, it was concluded that plantar fasciitis feet exhibit kinematics which are consistent with theoretical causation of the plantar fasciitis injury, that is, the plantar fasciitis foot exhibits excessive motion. Fewer number of anti-phase movements exhibited by plantar fasciitis feet may be an indication of pathology. The ground reaction force results suggested a compensatory pain response. In Part II, it was concluded that atrophy of the forefoot PIFM may destabilize the medial longitudinal arch and prolong the healing process. Lastly in Part III, it was concluded that resting energetics were consistent with muscle free of systemic disease or neuromuscular pathology. The presence of plantar fasciitis did not elicit systematic asymmetries in the metabolic response in comparison to healthy feet. Clinical Relevance: These kinematic results provided some evidence to support the clinical assertion that excessive motion is related to plantar fasciitis. These results also support treatment modalities which clinicians currently use to reduce rearfoot eversion, flattening of the medial longitudinal arch and dorsiflexion of the FMPJ (e.g. foot orthoses, insoles, taping, rocker soles). When treating plantar fasciitis patients, clinicians should assess for PIFM and tibialis posterior muscle atrophy and prescribe targeted exercises when appropriate.


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Kinesiology Commons