The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Are Bulls All Star Joakim Noah’s Shoes Causing His Plantar Fasciitis?

Posted by on Thursday, March 28th, 2013


As one of the most common foot injuries on the planet, plantar fasciitis gets a lot of our attention here at Healing Feet. It’s the subject of some real fascination actually, since it carries an air of mystery. We don’t understand exactly why it happens! To quickly recap: the plantar fascia, the band of tissue that runs from the ball of the foot to the heel, starts to hurt. The pain is caused by micro tears and subsequent inflammation, but why these tears accumulate rather than healing (like they usually do, in the plantar fascia and everywhere else in the body) isn’t understood. We know that tight calves, a quick intensification of training, and poorly designed footwear are all factors in the condition’s development. There are many different treatment options but in all cases, rest is a major factor for a successful recovery. Enter, Bulls all star Joakim Noah who really hates to sit one out and who always wears some particularly unsupportive sneakers.


Noah has been struggling with plantar fasciitis since he started playing in the NBA. This (perhaps non-coincidentally) coincided with a switch from Nikes to Le Coq Sportifs, the shoes his tennis great father always wore. Note: if you haven’t heard of Yannick Noah, a French phenom on the courts, you should check him out. Anyway, long story short, Joakim decided to honor his dad, and his dad’s former sponsor, by wearing Sportifs and only sportifs throughout his NBA career. So far he has missed several games and, as of February, it looks like his plantar fasciitis may keep him out indefinitely.


If you’ve seen these shoes before than you know, they don’t have much arch support. They’ve got a classy European profile, pretty colors, and a retro feel, but not much in the way of ergonomic, podiatrist-approved moxie. Of course, I have no evidence that Noah’s foot problems start and end with his shoes, but for a professional athlete, unsupportive sneakers seem like a pretty obviously bad idea.


But, this brings us to another interesting problem. In the NBA, the shoes a player wears are contractual. That means, Noah is under contract with Le Coq Sportif to sport(if) their shoes. So changing his footwear may not be as easy as a Mr. Rogers style switcheroo. This raises the question: should equipment manufacturers be allowed to outfit athletes in sub-par equipment? Does a contract extend to injury-inducing footwear? I think the players, the coaches, the fans, and the franchise owners might have a thing or two to say about that.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.