Why Your Heel Hurts in the Morning

by | Apr 27, 2017

People can be divided into two camps when it comes to preferred times for doing things: early birds and night owls. Researchers at the University of Barcelona (Spain) have studied these two categories of people to understand why there’s a natural predisposition one way or the other.

Comparing both types, the researchers found consistent personality differences between the groups. “Early birds” generally have lower levels of anxiety, less fatigue, and are more persistent than individuals who prefer to keep later hours. There’s a theory these differences might be explained by how our genetics relate to natural circadian rhythms.

That may or may not explain it, but one thing we know definitively is this – no matter which camp you fall in, intense heel pain puts a real damper on the start of your day!

Whether you are an early bird or night owl, when you experience sharp pain and discomfort with your first steps after waking up, it means you probably have a case of plantar fasciitis (the most common source of heel pain). Let’s take a look at how this condition develops so you are able to take measures to prevent it from developing (or coming back).

The best starting point for understanding plantar fasciitis is with the tissue that causes the problem. In this case, it is your plantar fascia that is affected. This particular band of tissue runs along the bottom of your foot, connecting the bottom of the heel to the bottom of your forefoot. If it helps, you can think of this as being like a bowstring, with your foot arch being the bow.

Keeping that “bow” comparison in mind, your plantar fascia helps support your foot arch. It also has a role in helping absorb the tremendous amount of physical force the foot endures with every step. When the fascia is overburdened with excessive stress and strain, tiny tears develop in the tissue, and plays a big part in your morning heel pain.

During periods of rest—especially extended ones, such as a night’s sleep—your body works to repair those tiny tears in the tissue. This is completely normal and fine, but when the tissue sustains stress again, the tears are ripped back open. This is what causes your sharp, intense heel pain.

Now, this is particularly prominent during the first steps of the day, but it also happens when you’ve been sitting for a couple of hours or standing for a while and then start moving around. This can affect factory workers, teachers, and people who work in occupations where they spend most of their work hours standing or walking on hard surfaces.

Plantar fasciitis pain is often severe, but we are happy to let you know that conservative treatment is often quite successful at resolving the problem and relieving pain.

For additional information about morning heel pain, or if you need to request an appointment for professional foot care, Wisconsin Foot Center is here for you. We will evaluate your situation to determine if plantar fasciitis is the root cause of your morning heel pain, and then create an effective treatment plan for you. Call our Hales Corners office at (414) 425-8400, or contact us online right now!

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