If you experience pain at the bottom of your feet when you wake or stand up after sitting for a while, you most likely have plantar fasciitis or achilles tendinitis.
There could also be other explanations such as arthritis or a fracture. In this post, we explain why the bottom of your feet hurt when you wake up and what you can do about it.
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Why Do The Bottom of My Feet Hurt When I Wake Up In The Morning?
In most cases, one of two conditions is responsible for this type of pain: plantar fasciitis or achilles tendinitis. Let’s discuss them in more detail.
Connecting your heel to your toes is a thick band of tissue called the plantar fascia. It supports your arch and absorbs shock when you walk, jump or run.
Injury, overuse, foot mechanics (e.g. flat feet) or stress (caused by standing for too long, obesity and other factors) can cause stretching and tearing of the plantar fascia.
Over time, inflammation sets in, resulting in pain usually on your heel. This is what’s referred to as plantar fasciitis.
Most people with plantar fasciitis will experience a sharp pain in the heel when they take the first step when they wake up.
You may also experience the pain after sitting for sometime, or when you walk after standing for a long time.
Here’s a video demonstration of plantar fasciitis and how it happens.
Achilles tendonitis or achilles tendinopathy occurs from inflammation to the achilles tendon.
The achilles tendon connects your calf muscles at the back of your legs to the heel bone. Repeated stress on this tendon causes tears and damage, which over time leads to inflammation.
If you have achilles tendinitis, you’ll experience soreness or pain at the back of your lower leg or behind your heel.
As with plantar fasciitis, the pain is usually most acute when you first wake up or after a long period of rest.
As you get more active and the area gets warmed up, the pain recedes.
If the condition is left to worsen, you may begin to experience severe pain any time you are walking or running. It can get to a point where you cannot play a sport or work out.
Other Causes of Foot Pain In The Morning
While plantar fasciitis and achilles tendinitis are the most common culprits behind foot pain in the morning, there are other possible causes.
- Arthritis. The pain you experience when you wake up could be arthritic pain. Arthritis, whether it is osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, causes swelling, inflammation and pain in your feet. This pain will typically not be limited to just when you wake up; it can occur at any time.
- Injury such as a fracture or sprain. If you’ve recently had a foot injury, you could still be recovering from it, hence the pain. Give yourself time to heal and, if necessary, get physiotherapy.
- Stress fracture. Some injuries happen without you realising it. A stress fracture is a crack in the bone that happens over time because of overuse or stress. As it gets worse, you experience pain, swelling and other symptoms.
Can Pain At the Bottom Of My Feet Go Away on Its Own?
Achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis can go away on their own, but only if you take steps to prevent further injury.
The first step is to reduce stress to your feet. Reduce your workout intensity, don’t run too fast, pick a more gentle walking pace and so on.
Most likely, pushing yourself too much and too fast caused the pain.
Dial back your intensity and rest a lot more.
Next, change your footwear and get something that cushions and supports your feet. There are shoes made specifically to help with plantar fasciitis and achilles tendinitis.
They usually have more cushioning, a heel cup design to stabilise your heel, and improve arch support.
Proper footwear is especially important if you spend hours on your feet standing or walking.
You can also use insoles, heel cups, compression socks and other orthotic aids to improve foot cushioning, support and mechanics.
If the pain gets worse, see a doctor for treatment recommendations. In severe cases, surgery may be required.
How to Get Rid of Pain At the Bottom Of Your Feet
If the pain is caused by plantar fasciitis or achilles tendinitis, it will usually go away once you are up and moving.
Tolerate the pain for a few steps until your feet warm up. But watch out if the pain seems to be getting worse each morning. It’s a sign that what you are doing for recovery isn’t working and you need to see a doctor.
If the pain is too much to tolerate or continues even after you’ve been active for a while, here are some tips for managing the pain.
- Try cold and heat therapy. Cold therapy with an ice pack or cold therapy socks is especially effective for managing acute foot pain. Heat therapy works best for mild pain, stiffness and soreness.
- For heat therapy, you can dip your legs in a basin of warm water or use a foot massager. Foot massagers use heat, vibration and rollers to reduce pain, soreness and swelling.
- Massage your feet before you wake up. You can use your hands or roll your feet on a massage ball. This will boost blood circulation and warm your feet, hopefully reducing how much pain you’ll feel once you start walking.
- Wear padded compression socks to manage pain through the day. These socks cushion your feet and maintain good blood circulation. Use them with cushioned and supportive shoes for best results.
Over the long term, there are additional things you can do to further reduce the pain and prevent it from coming back.
Examples include switching to less stressful workouts like swimming or cycling, losing weight (obesity is a risk factor for plantar fasciitis and achilles tendonitis), and always wearing well fitting shoes.