Why Do I Have Heel Pain in the Morning?
Suffering from heel pain in the morning is actually not that uncommon. Morning heel pain often feels more intense than heel pain experienced throughout the day, as your foot has been resting for an extended period of time overnight and then suddenly takes on your body weight as you stand first thing in the morning.
Usually, it’s only the initial steps which feel the worse. The pain tends to fade away as you walk around because the foot begins to warm up (increased blood circulation) and stretch as you walk for a few minutes.
There can be multiple underlying causes of morning heel pain; usually these conditions cause pain to occur again after a period of inactivity during the day.
In this article, we’ll explain what it means to experience heel pain in the morning and what steps can be taken to relieve the pain.
Heel Pain in the Morning and What it Means
Morning heel pain is frequently caused by a common foot condition known as plantar fasciitis. This is an inflammation of the plantar fascia ligament, which runs from the base of the toes to the heel of the foot. When the plantar fascia becomes overstretched and tight, it can end up inflamed and sore.
As you sleep, your feet are often resting in the ‘plantar-flexed’ or a downward facing position. This position relaxes and shortens the plantar fascia in length. As the ligament shortens during your sleep, the first step taken in the morning forces the ligament to stretch suddenly and pull forcefully on the heel which can cause excruciating pain.
Heel spurs can also cause morning heel pain. A heel spur is when the heel bone overgrows; the overgrown part of the bone can stab into tendons and ligaments into the heel. Pain feels more intense first thing in the morning as your whole body weight is placed on the foot after a long period of rest.
How to Relieve Morning Heel Pain
In order to minimise and even eliminate morning heel pain altogether, you can try the following before you stand up in the mornings:
- Add Heat – You can apply a heat pack to the area you feel the most pain while you’re still in bed. A snap heat pack is the best solution as you can apply them immediately without having to move around to arrange a heat-pad.
- Gentle Foot Stretches – Ideally, these should be focused on the arch of the foot. Try the towel stretch to control the amount of tension on the foot.
- Move Your Feet – You can draw the letters of the alphabet with your foot to lengthen and wake up muscles before you attempt to stand.
- Massage the muscles located in the sole of your foot to encourage them to relax and loosen. You can use your thumb to massage the arch of the foot while avoiding the area where the pain is felt.
- Plantar Fascia Night Splints – These can help to prevent the foot muscles from tightening as you sleep. By minimising tightness, the plantar fascia is more resistant to any stress placed on the foot from the very first step you take in the morning.
These methods are all focused on warming up and stretching your feet before placing any weight on them in the morning. If you are still suffering from heel pain in the morning that’s unbearable, or does not improve throughout the day, see your podiatrist for further professional treatment options.