Nobody wants to start their day with heel pain in the morning. But unfortunately, so many people wake up to an aching and agitating sensation in their heels.
The weird thing is, this pain typically resolves itself as the day goes on. Nevertheless, it makes it tough to get out of bed excited about and ready for the day.
That’s why we are going to teach you everything you need to know about why your heel hurts when you wake up in the morning – starting with the most important part, the causes. Then, we’ll share some home remedies with you that you can try for yourself to relieve the pain.
What Causes Heel Pain In The Morning?
Whether you feel it the minute you open your eyes, or you notice it after stepping out of bed and walking for a moment – having a sore heel in the morning sucks.
Fortunately, it is usually not a serious problem. Most often, it’s just plantar fasciitis, which is easily treatable from home.
Sometimes, though, there is a relationship between a sore heel in the morning & the thyroid. We’ll start with some of the most common, less serious causes, and work towards the progressively more serious ones.
If you feel your heel pain first thing in the morning, and it subsides by afternoon, it’s most likely plantar fasciitis to blame.
This painful condition is one where the plantar fascia becomes irritated. This is a large ligament on the bottom of your foot, and it’s agitation can contribute to a weird, stinging pain.
The reason you may feel it more in the morning in particular is due to poor blood supply when you’re sleeping.
You’ll wake up with stiffness and the afflicted heel(s) will hurt a bit worse until you get your blood flowing.
Sometimes, this condition is an indicator of a more serious underlying issue – such as rheumatoid arthritis. Because of this, it’s worth seeing an orthopedic professional for a diagnosis if this issue doesn’t clear up quickly.
Can Plantar Fasciitis Go Away On Its Own?
While plantar fasciitis may go away on its own sometimes, the condition is irritating enough that it’s definitely worth taking some steps to rectify it.
And the good news is, this ailment is easily treatable. More often than not, plantar fasciitis is caused by poor footwear choices by athletes. For example, those who run in poor quality shoes can expect agitation of the plantar fascia.
Or, if you haven’t changed out your footwear in some time (at least every 300-400 miles you put on them), you may have worn down the arch support, which will put pressure on the plantar fascia with every step you take.
Another really similar condition to plantar fasciitis is heel spurs. These are notorious for doing their damage early in the morning, with symptoms subsiding as the day goes on.
A heel spur is essentially just a bone spur on the heel. This is a small, abnormal growth – sometimes there from birth, sometimes developed over the years from calcium buildup.
Whichever the case, they can cause excruciating pain in your feet when they press on nearby nerves, or if the spur is on the bottom of your heel and you repeatedly press on it by walking or running.
Interestingly enough, heel spurs are oftentimes an indication that plantar fasciitis is also present. It’s pretty typical for excess pressure on the plantar fascia where it attaches to the heel bone to result in a heel spur developing.
The treatment methods are similar for this condition and plantar fasciitis. Start with the RICE method, and then consider stretching and getting deep tissue work done on your plantar fascia (foot massage).
Of course, you should also invest in better footwear or protective inserts to accommodate the spur. In rare cases, you may need steroid injections to manage the pain in the long term.
If your pain does not get better as the day goes on, and the pain is felt not just in the heel bone alone, but the entire heel – it could be achilles tendinitis.
The achilles tendon attaches to the calf muscle and the heel bone. It’s not uncommon for this tendon to become inflamed, and this situation is known as achilles tendinitis.
You may notice the symptoms are aggravated in the morning – but the pain will stay pretty consistent throughout the day, especially if you’re active.
To clear up the pain, try the RICE method, and give your legs a break. This is a type of overuse injury in most cases, so giving the tendon a chance to recover while actively attacking the inflammation will provide serious relief.
If your heel pain in the morning is accompanied with excessive swelling, and your pain doesn’t completely clear up as the day goes on, it could be a stress fracture.
You’ll need to think about how much stress you’ve put your feet under in the previous weeks or months prior to noticing this condition to get a better understanding of if this is what you’re dealing with. Of course, the best way to rule this out is with an x-ray.
While it isn’t super common, experiencing unexplained heel pain in the morning could be an indication of hypothyroidism – in other words, an overactive thyroid.
This condition is pretty serious. The root cause is imbalanced chemicals and hormones, which can contribute to swelling and inflammation in not just the heel, but the feet and ankles as well.
On top of a sore heel in the morning, hypothyroidism can eventually cause pinched nerves in the foot, leading to tarsal tunnel syndrome – an excruciating condition.
In order to diagnose this condition, you’ll need to visit a doctor and undergo a blood test.
Final Thoughts On Heel Pain In The Morning
Now that you know the most common reasons you experience heel pain in the morning, you can narrow down the most likely culprit and come up with a treatment plan.
When in doubt, and if you ever have any symptoms which become worrisome, visit your doctor and seek professional care!
Stevie is Certified Nutrition Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer for the past 10 years. He specializes in mobility and chronic pain management. His methods have helped thousands of clients improve the quality of their life through movement.