Many of my patients complain of foot pain when they first get out of bed in the morning. It's not surprising. Our muscles mend and relax over the night as we sleep, which can cause them to shorten. As a result, when we put weight on our feet first thing in the morning, those muscles start to re-engage. This can cause pain, particularly for those who have an underlying foot condition.

5 Reasons for Morning Foot Pain

1. Plantar Fasciitis

The most prevalent cause of morning foot discomfort is plantar fasciitis, also known as heel pain. It's caused by inflammation in the plantar fascia, a tissue that runs down the bottom of your foot. This is the structure that tightens up while you sleep, producing pain when you first put your feet on the floor in the morning.

While there are some home remedies for this problem, seeing a podiatrist is often recommended, especially in moderate or severe cases.

Here are some things you can try to reduce that morning foot pain.

  • First, stretch your calf muscles before you get out of bed. These stretches can be done using a yoga strap, belt, or towel for at least 30 secs 10 times. It's also important to stretch your calf muscles several times during the day, especially after long periods of sitting.
  • Second, inspect your footwear. It's time to replace them if they lack support or are old and worn out.
  • Third, replace your shoe inserts with an over-the-counter orthotic like Redithotics or Powerstep. This may be all the additional foot support you need if you have mild plantar fasciitis.

Another problem that leads to morning pain is inflammation.

To reduce inflammation, consider chilling and massaging your heels with a frozen water bottle, as well as taking anti-inflammatory medication.

Finally, if you have moderate or severe heel pain, you’ll need to make an appointment with a podiatrist to get more advanced care such as custom orthotics

2. Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is another common condition that can also cause morning foot pain. This ailment, unlike plantar fasciitis, involves inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which runs down the back of the heel. Although the Achilles tendon is involved rather than the plantar fascia the reasons for developing this condition and its treatments are very similar to those for plantar fasciitis.

Like plantar fasciitis, It’s critical to minimize inflammation, wear supportive shoes, stretch, consider using orthotics, and visit a podiatrist if you have a moderate or severe case.

If you’re an athlete you’re at higher risk for developing this condition. It’s imperative to seek treatment and cease your athletic endeavors until the Achilles tendon is fully healed. Otherwise, you could rupture the tendon or develop a more severe condition called Achilles tendonosis

3. Arthritis

Arthritis, particularly midfoot arthritis and fibromyalgia, can also cause foot pain in the morning.

Because the reasons for midfoot arthritis vary, so will the treatment. Osteoarthritis, caused by cartilage breakdown in the foot joints, and rheumatoid arthritis, caused by an immunological condition, will require certain drugs, suitable footwear, weight control, cortisone injections, and orthotics.

Another type of arthritis is fibromyalgia, which causes widespread discomfort throughout the body. Poor sleep is a major contributor, making the feet especially painful in the morning. Gentle movement can assist in easing pain. It's critical to address concerns like flat feet or pronation with over-the-counter or custom orthotics for greater foot support. Foot massage, hot foot soaks with Epsom salts, and moderate stretching with a yoga belt before getting out of bed in the morning can be other helpful treatments.

4. Overall Foot Muscle Soreness

If you have overall muscle soreness in your feet, it could be related to a lack of rest or conditioning. This form of pain is typically experienced by weekend warriors or people who don’t exercise on a regular basis. To avoid such discomfort, get plenty of rest, bathe your feet in a fairly hot Epsom salt bath after workouts, and get a foot massage. To prevent overall muscle soreness in your feet, it’s important to train properly for your sport and raise activity levels by no more than 10% per week.

5. Foot Cramps

The last foot problem that can be more painful in the morning is foot cramps. Overexertion, dehydration, lack of certain nutrients, certain drugs, and diabetes and peripheral neuropathy can all cause foot cramps. To avoid foot cramps, it is critical to diagnose and treat the underlying cause with the assistance of your doctor or podiatrist. 

In conclusion, if you’re experiencing foot pain when you get up in the morning it’s critical to determine the cause so you’ll know the right treatments and prevention strategies to use.

Remember, if you have persistent or severe foot pain, don't hesitate to seek professional advice and care from a podiatrist.

Dr. Rion Berg
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A podiatrist in North Seattle treating families for over 40 years.