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Why do my heels hurt when I first get out of bed?

This is one of the most common questions asked in every podiatry office.   It’s usually followed by, “Doc, my first steps out of bed in the morning are so painful, I have to limp to the bathroom.”  The pain goes away after you walk a little bit, but happens again after sitting at work or in the car.  You get back up on your feet and the pain can be anywhere from a mild discomfort to debilitating.

Pain after you’ve been resting is a common symptom of many inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis (as anyone with arthritis in their hands), tendinitis and in your heels, plantar fasciitis.  Pain in your heels and arches with initial weight-bearing following prolonged periods of rest is a common symptom of plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendinitis.  Both are common foot ailments caused by foot instability such as excessive flattening of the arch or over pronation.

All day long you’re on your feet standing, walking, running… if your feet aren’t as stable as they should be, then the muscles are working overtime, your ligaments and tendons such as the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon are getting stressed and irritated.  Your body’s way of healing an irritated area is to create an inflammatory response, and this often happens at rest.  So when you first step down in the morning, all that inflammation is right there at the area of irritation, maybe on the bottom of the heel, the back of the heel or anywhere across the bottom of your arch.  As you walk a little, you start pumping out that inflammation and the pain eases, or may even go away completely, at least for a while.  The pain may come back toward that end of the day after you’ve been on your feet a lot, or in some people, may only occur after periods of rest. 

The first thing you can do in the morning to ease the pain is to stretching exercises.  Before getting out of bed, you can flex your foot upward and hold it for 30 seconds.  That will help stretch the ligament in your arch and the Achilles tendon behind your ankle and leg.  Leaning against the wall with your leg behind you and the heel down (runners stretch) can also help by stretching the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia.  Wearing a night splint will keep the ligament and tendon stretched out all night long, so you don’t build up inflammation.   When you get out of bed in the morning you’ll be more comfortable.

The most important thing you can do is to see a podiatrist to have the underlying condition properly diagnosed since heel pain in the morning is only a symptom of a larger underlying problem.  The doctors at Kansas City Foot and Ankle see heel and arch pain more than anything and are experts at alleviating your pain quickly.

There is no reason to live with heel or arch pain.  See the foot specialists at Kansas City Foot and Ankle so that you can finally get out of bed without dreading your first steps.  Get fast relief, call our office at 816-943-1111 to schedule an appointment.

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