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Researchers seek heel pain sufferers for plantar fasciitis trial

A Bond University Physiotherapy research team is looking for Gold Coast locals suffering from heel pain to take part in an upcoming study into the effectiveness of strength training in treating plantar fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis is characterised by sharp heel pain most intense first thing in the morning.

This study, led by Bond University’s Head of Physiotherapy, Dr Wayne Hing and prominent Gold Coast sports physiotherapist Richard Newton, was prompted after a recent review (Latey et al, 2014[i]) indicated a significant association between foot muscle weakness and painful foot conditions such as plantar fasciitis. 

The team is looking to recruit participants who are suffering from heel pain to examine their intrinsic foot muscle (toe flexor) strength, pre and post a six-week toe walking / toe running program.

As part of the study, research participants will receive a 15 minute initial assessment including intrinsic foot muscle strength measures and a detailed toe walking / toe running demonstration before commencing the intervention.

They will then complete a six-week program beginning with one minute per day for week one, two minutes per day in week two, up to six minutes per day in week six. 

At the completion of the program, the participants’ intrinsic foot muscle strength will be re-measured by the same method as the initial assessment.

According to Dr Hing, severe plantar fasciitis can be quiet debilitating.

“Plantar fasciitis is a musculoskeletal disorder that physiotherapists and doctors often see affecting athletes and the elderly,” he said.

“It is also relatively common in a broad cross-section of the community and can be painful enough to restrict sufferers’ activity, mobility and general well-being.

“Traditionally, treatment of this condition has focused on stretching, rather than strength training.

“It is hoped the results of these studies will inform the future treatment of this condition by health professionals and help alleviate the pain and improve the quality of life for sufferers.”

Below are the eligibility criteria for the study:

  • Men and women aged between 18 and 60 years of age, suffering from heel pain which:
    • radiates from the heel into the arch of foot
    • is most intense with the first steps of the day or after rest or warming up with activity
    • reduces the person’s ability to weight bear on the foot
  • Not currently receiving treatment for a lower limb condition
  • Without a neurological condition that may affect lower limb muscle strength (i.e. stroke, motor vehicle accident or polio)
  • Not diagnosed with an Autoimmune Disease (i.e.) multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Able to walk 10 metres without an assistive device

Participants will be required to attend initial and completion assessments at the Bond Institute of Health & Sport Science (2 Promethean Way, Robina) on:

  • Either Thursday January 28th or Tuesday February 2nd (initial assessment)
  • Either Thursday March 10th or Monday March 14th (completion assessment)


                     If you are interested in taking part, please contact Dean Huffer:
                                         [email protected].


[i] Reference: Latey, P. J., Burns, J., Hiller, C., & Nightingale, E. J. (2014). Relationship between intrinsic foot muscle weakness and pain: A systematic review. Journal of Foot and Ankle Research, 7(1), A51.

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