What Causes Plantar Fasciitis to Flare Up?

Even healthy habits, like starting to exercise more, can trigger foot pain

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel and foot pain. It occurs when the plantar fascia, a band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, becomes inflamed. Certain factors can cause plantar fasciitis to flare up, including lots of physical activity, wearing shoes without proper support, or rapid weight gain.

Continue reading to learn more about what causes plantar fasciitis to flare up and how to find pain relief. 

Woman tying running shoes

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What Causes Plantar Fasciitis to Flare Up?

Plantar fasciitis is often triggered by physical activity. However, it can also be brought on by underlying conditions, like having a heavier body weight, arthritis, or foot shape. No matter what the root cause of plantar fasciitis is, there are certain things that can make it worse. 

Starting a New Exercise Routine

Being very active can exacerbate plantar fasciitis symptoms. Plantar fasciitis can occur after a sudden increase in activity, like beginning a new running or exercise program. Walking or running downhill or on uneven surfaces can also trigger it.

Minimizing physical activity and time standing can help during a flare. If this isn't possible, wearing cushioned shoes with arch support, like sneakers, can help. Wear them even around the house and at night to help minimize pain.

Weight Gain

People who have a higher body weight put more pressure on their feet, which puts them at higher risk for plantar fasciitis. If experiencing a flare, talk to a healthcare provider about whether losing weight is an appropriate treatment.


Any rapid weight gain can cause plantar fasciitis to flare up, including weight gain during pregnancy.

Wearing Shoes Without Support

Wearing the wrong shoes can cause plantar fasciitis to flare up. If you have plantar fasciitis or are having pain, you should wear shoes with plenty of cushioning and arch support, like sneakers. Shoes to avoid include:

  • Flip-flops and other flat-bottomed shoes
  • Shoes with high heels, including boots or shoes that raise your heel above your toes
  • Old, worn-out shoes, including workout shoes

Skipping Your Stretches

Having tight calves can increase pressure on the plantar fascia. Stretching your calves, Achilles tendon (heel), and the bottom of your feet is one of the best ways to help treat and prevent plantar fasciitis. Skipping these stretches may cause symptoms to worsen. If you have plantar fasciitis, stretch before and after exercise, before bed, and in the morning.

Pushing Through the Pain

It’s tempting to try to work through plantar fasciitis pain. But doing that can cause more pain in the long run. When your pain flares, it’s best to stay off your feet for at least a week and stop all activity that puts strain on your feet.

Tearing the Plantar Fascia 

Rarely, the plantar fascia can tear completely because of repeated stress. This is known as a plantar fascia rupture. If it happens you’ll experience sudden, severe pain and should call your healthcare provider.

Despite how bad this sounds, patients can recover relatively quickly, and pain from the prior plantar fasciitis pain will be alleviated quickly. Those with tears will likely need to wear an orthotic (a custom-made insert) to be worn afterward since they will now likely have a flatter foot.

Risk Factors

Plantar fasciitis can happen in anyone, but certain risk factors increase your odds for the condition. People with the following characteristics are at an increased risk:

  • A higher body weight, especially after sudden weight gain like that during pregnancy
  • A high foot arch
  • Tight calf muscles
  • Hobbies or careers with repetitive motions, like running or jogging
  • A new exercise regimen or sudden increase in physical activity

How Long Does a Plantar Fasciitis Flare Last?

Plantar fasciitis can last a long time if untreated. However, with treatment, 90% of cases of plantar fasciitis will get better within 10 months. During a flare, staying off your feet as much as possible is important.

How to Treat Plantar Fasciitis

The most important way to treat plantar fasciitis is by resting. In addition to rest, try these treatments for plantar fasciitis:

  • Icing: Wrap an ice pack in a thin towel and apply it to the bottom of your foot for 15 minutes a few times a day. 
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Over-the-counter (OTC) NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen, can reduce pain and inflammation. However, it is recommended to speak to a healthcare provider if using them longer than a month.
  • Wearing proper shoes: Wear shoes with arch support, and talk to a healthcare provider about getting orthotics made to give your feet more support. 
  • Stretches: Stretches for plantar fasciitis are essential for treatment. Stretching the calf and bottom of the foot for at least 20 minutes daily will help.
  • Massages: Massaging the area with small hard ball like a golf ball or a massage gun can help lessen pain.


Plantar fasciitis is a common foot condition that occurs when the thick band of tissue along the bottom of the foot becomes inflamed. Plantar fasciitis can flare up from a sudden increase in activity levels or weight. Other factors, like wearing shoes without support or not stretching regularly can also make plantar fasciitis worse. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why do I have plantar fasciitis all of a sudden?

    A sudden change in activity level or rapid weight gain can trigger plantar fasciitis. If you suddenly experience plantar fasciitis, rest, stretching, and wearing more supportive shoes may alleviate some of your pain. 

  • What is the fastest way to cure plantar fasciitis?

    Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix for plantar fasciitis. Rest is key to healing. However, NSAIDs can give you relief from pain, as can stretching. 

  • Can plantar fasciitis go away on its own?

    Plantar fasciitis can go away on its own, especially if you rest. However, it can also get worse, so it’s a good idea to be proactive with treatments, including wearing supportive shoes and stretching regularly. 

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. MedlinePlus. Plantar fasciitis. U.S. National Library of Medicine.

  2. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Plantar fasciitis.

  3. Boston Children's Hospital. Plantar fasciitis.

  4. Ortho Info. Plantar fasciitis and bone spurs.

  5. Pascoe SC, Mazzola TJ. Acute medial plantar fascia tearJ Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2016;46(6):495-495. doi:10.2519/jospt.2016.0409

By Kelly Burch
Kelly Burch is has written about health topics for more than a decade. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and more.