Does this scenario sound familiar to you?

It’s a glorious Saturday morning. Your calendar is clear, so you decided to sleep in a bit. You feel rested, refreshed, and relaxed, and ready to start your day.

But as you sit up, stretch, and rotate yourself, you suddenly hesitate—because you know what’s coming. Your state of relaxation quickly turns to agony as you start to put weight on your feet, and you’re greeted by a sharp, stabbing pain radiating from the base of your heels.

 Why are my feet killing me every morning?

It hurts so bad that you have to grab your nightstand, then the wall, then the dresser to keep yourself balanced. Slowly and gingerly, you hobble toward the bathroom.

As you continue your morning routine, the pain slowly recedes. You get on with the rest of your day. But in the back of your head, you know that the next morning will just bring more of the same.

What gives? Very likely, you have a case of plantar fasciitis.

Woman Holding Her Foot

Why Heels Hurt After Rest

On the surface, it doesn’t seem to make much sense. After all, rest is usually supposed to make your injuries feel better and heal faster. The idea that your heel pain would actually be worse after a long period of relaxation seems nonsensical, even unfair. 

The medical term for pain that occurs after rest is post-static dyskinesia. Although it can occur in many places throughout your body, it is by far most associated with heel pain in general—and plantar fasciitis in particular. In order to understand this, we need to know a few things about plantar fasciitis.

The bottom of each foot is supported by a long, fibrous band of connective tissue known as the plantar fascia. If you have plantar fasciitis, that band becomes inflamed and damaged.

As you sleep, your feet and ankles relax and begin to rest in a plantarflexed position—or in other words, with your toes pointed downward. In this position, all the tension on the plantar fascia is released, allowing it to contract and shorten overnight.

But the relief is short-lived. When you step out of bed and put weight on your foot again, the now-shortened plantar fascia is suddenly forced to yank painfully at the point where it inserts into your heel. Essentially, you injure your foot all over again, and it may take several minutes for the plantar fascia to elongate to the point where the pain starts to decline again.

What Can I Do About It?

It sounds like a vicious cycle, right? How can you ever get better if stepping out of bed every morning just starts the whole process over, Groundhog Day-style?

Well, we have good news: plantar fasciitis is very treatable, and we have many treatment options that can help you. (Bonus: surgery is almost never required!)

For the immediate problem of morning heel pain, we can provide you with a set of night splints to wear while you sleep. Essentially, these keep your plantar fasciae in an elongated position overnight, so when you set your feet down the next morning they don’t have to yank so hard on your heels.

Common home care strategies typically also include anti-inflammatory medications and icing to help deal with temporary spikes in pain. We’ll also provide you with a home exercise program packet with detailed instructions on stretches to help with pain relief and healing. Check out the video below to see some of these exercises demonstrated!

Occasionally, a very severe case of plantar fasciitis may require more comprehensive care than simple rest, night splints, and stretching can achieve. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered there too! We specialize in a variety of advanced therapies that have shown great success treating even very severe cases of plantar fasciitis, including:

  • MLS laser therapy and/or regenerative injections including perinatal tissue and growth factors for accelerated tissue healing.
  • Advanced custom orthotics made using digital scanning, force plate, and 3D-printing for optimal fit and results.
  • Minimally invasive surgical procedures (should your plantar fasciitis be one of the less than 5 percent of cases that would require one.)

Are You Looking for a Heel and High Arch Pain Specialist in Austin, TX?

If you are looking for heel pain care, you should reach out to an experienced podiatristAustin Foot and Ankle Specialists can help. Our office provides a wide variety of advanced, effective treatment options for all kinds of painful conditions. Ready to schedule an appointment? Contact us online or call our Austin office at 512.328.8900.

Craig Thomajan
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Austin Podiatrist
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