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Why Plantar Fasciitis Feels Worse in the Morning

Why Plantar Fasciitis Feels Worse in the Morning

Plantar fasciitis is a common foot condition notorious for causing sharp pain in the heel, particularly during the first steps after waking up. The inflammation of the tissue running along the bottom of your foot from the heel to the toes can lead to a stabbing sensation that often feels worse in the morning. 

The medical team at Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine in Kirkland, Washington, explains some reasons why plantar fasciitis feels worse in the morning and how it can help sufferers manage their symptoms more effectively.

What is plantar fasciitis?

Before diving into why plantar fasciitis feels worse in the morning, it helps to understand the role of the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a ligament-like band that supports the arch of the foot and absorbs shocks as you walk, run, or stand. 

The plantar fasciitis is flexible yet sturdy, allowing the foot to function correctly during movement. However, overuse, excessive pressure, or injury can inflame this tissue, leading to plantar fasciitis.

Nighttime healing processes

The body enters a state of repair during sleep, focusing on healing and regenerating tissues, including the plantar fascia. In an attempt to heal the micro-tears within the tissue, the body immobilizes the foot in a position of slight flexion, which shortens the plantar fascia. 

The natural healing process, while beneficial in the long term, contributes to the stiffness and pain experienced in the morning.

Morning pain explained

When taking the first steps after sleeping or lying in bed all night, the shortened plantar fascia is suddenly stretched, causing tears in the inflamed tissue to pull apart. This abrupt stretching can result in sharp, intense pain in the heel or bottom of the foot. 

Plantar fasciitis pain may decrease as the day progresses because walking and moving gradually stretch the fascia, improving flexibility and reducing tension. However, this initial burst of pain can be a significant hurdle for those with plantar fasciitis, affecting their quality of life and morning routines.

Risk factors of plantar fasciitis

Several factors can increase the risk of developing plantar fasciitis, including:

Certain types of exercise, such as long-distance running, can also put people at risk of developing plantar fasciitis as it puts a lot of stress on the heel and attached tissue.

How to relieve plantar fasciitis morning pain

To mitigate morning pain caused by plantar fasciitis, our team may suggest implementing the following strategies:

Night splints

Wearing a night splint can help keep the plantar fascia stretched during sleep, reducing the contraction and stiffness experienced in the morning.

Proper footwear

Invest in shoes with good arch support and a cushioned sole to minimize stress on the plantar fascia.

Custom orthotics

If necessary, our team can prescribe custom-fit orthotics to provide additional support and stability and relieve pain from plantar fasciitis.

Stretching exercises

Regular stretching exercises for the plantar fascia, Achilles tendon, and calf muscles can improve flexibility and reduce tension.

Ice therapy

Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and pain.

Over-the-counter pain relievers

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help manage pain and reduce inflammation.

The increased pain from plantar fasciitis in the morning is a result of the body's natural healing processes and the biomechanics of the foot. If morning pain persists despite treatment efforts, call Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine or schedule an appointment online  for further evaluation and treatment options.

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