An American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) Podiatric Practice Survey of nearly 3,000 podiatrists found that plantar fasciitis/heel pain was the most commonly treated condition.1 A longtime hypothesis is that reduced ankle dorsiflexion is the most important risk factor for the development of plantar fasciitis.2 Decreased ankle dorsiflexion secondary to a tight Achilles tendon may lead to compensatory pronation of the foot, which can contribute to plantar fasciitis.3
Although most practitioners are familiar with the “runner’s” or gastrocnemius stretch, it is just as important to test the soleus muscle and have patients stretch this muscle in addition to the gastrocnemius if the soleus muscle is tight.
I recently did an instructional video blog for patients on Achilles tendon stretches for both the soleus and gastrocnemius muscles. Here is the link: http://drshoe.wordpress.com/2011/11/01/plantar-fasciitis-achilles-tendon...  .
1. Fischer Associates. 2002 podiatric practice survey. Statistical results. J Am Podiatr Med Assoc. 2003; 93(1):67-86.
2. Riddle DL, Pulisic M, Pidcoe P, Johnson RE. Risk factors for plantar fasciitis: A matched case-control study. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2003; 85(5):872-877.
3. Riddle DL, Schappert SM. Volume of ambulatory care visits and patterns of care for patients diagnosed with plantar fasciitis: A national study of medical doctors. Foot Ankle Int. 2004; 25(5):303-310.