Waking Up with a Bang: What’s with Morning Heel Pain?
If you get a Valentine from a secret admirer, it might take you a while to figure out who sent it. However, if you get a shooting, sharp pain in your heel the instant you hop out of bed in the morning, there’s no guess-work involved – plantar fasciitis is delivering you its patented punch!
This tell-tale sign tends to give the condition away, but the good news is knowing what’s behind your pain allows you to treat it A.S.A.P. and that means you’ll wake up a happier camper before you know it!
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Here’s the scoop: your plantar fascia is a fibrous band of tissues that spans from heel to toe. Too much pressure — due to excessive weight, overtraining, standing long periods of time on hard surfaces, and faulty foot structures – causes tears in these tissues which become inflamed and painful. The symptoms typically come on slowly, and seemingly disappear during periods of rest, when the band of tissues relaxes. However, when suddenly asked to stretch by taking a step – yow! That forces the tissues to pull on the heel bone where they attach, sending a painful reminder of the problem!
Luckily, there are things you can do to prevent this uncomfortable wake-up call. Before you get out of bed, stretch your arch by gently pulling your toes toward you. Slowly “wake up” the muscles that support your arch by using your big toe to trace the alphabet in the air. Now, try to grab your blanket a few times using your toes. Then, ease into your first step.
Doing these stretches throughout the day will help reduce your heel pain, but rest is the main anecdote. You need to give the damaged tissues the time they need to heal, so refrain from any activities that might strain your arch. Ice and anti-inflammatory medication helps ease discomfort, and custom orthotic inserts can help as well. Also, it’s important that you have shoes that fit properly and provide plenty of cushion and support.
Other treatment options include, night splints, injections, extracorporeal shock wave therapy, and if all else fails, surgery.