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How To Treat Your Morning Heel Pain In 3 Easy Steps

Updated: Jul 2, 2022

As a heel pain sufferer, you’ll understand how incredibly frustrating heel pain can be. Some days you wake up and the heel pain is not too bad yet on other days it can feel like someone is sticking a knife in the bottom of your foot. It seems to start to improve only to come back with a vengeance. Simple tasks like keeping up with the kids gets harder, standing on your feet at work hurts, your friends keep asking you why you are limping and going for a walk and exercising can be near impossible.

“Heel pain really limits your ability to walk and function normally and this dramatically reduces your quality of life and can really get you down!”

If this is your daily routine, then you’re not alone. Heel pain is an incredibly frustrating condition that impacts many people every day.

Your heel pain is usually really bad first thing in the morning because all of the muscles and tissues in your feet get a bit gluggy or stiff during the night, particularly the plantar fascia. This is one of the key laws of our physiology in that our tissues tend to adapt to the degree they are moved and because our feet don’t move a lot while we are sleeping the muscles, ligaments and tendons in our feet (and our whole body for that matter) tend to stiffen overnight.

When you put your foot to the floor first thing in the morning you’re effectively tearing apart the healing plantar fascial tissues and this can really hurt!

So here are the 3 easy steps you can do to ease your heel pain and make your first steps out of bed in the morning far less painful.

Step #1: Writing your name will help … let me explain!

Just before you swing your feet out of bed to stand up, take a minute to write your full name (including your school yard nickname!) or the letters of the alphabet from A-Z in cursive.

Do this with one foot at a time, imagine you are writing your name with your big toe. One minute, each foot is all it takes and it is good for non-painful heels too!

This movement helps to flush away some of the waste products that settle around sore heels during the night and warms the tissues up so they can take your body weight a lot easier and with less pain.

“A muscle is like a car. If you want it to run well early in the morning, you have to warm it up.” Florence Griffith Joyner

Step #2: Have a Ball!

You are going to have a real ball with this step (literally we will be using a tennis ball) and this step works really well with the previous step 1 to get those heels moving more freely and with less pain!

By gently massaging your feet over a tennis ball before you stand on them in the morning and before you got to bed at night stimulates blood flow and relieves tension in your heels by flushing away painful, inflammatory fluids that build up overnight or after a day’s activity.

Get yourself a tennis ball.

Position yourself on the side of your bed or in a chair with your foot resting on the ball. Just let the weight of your leg do the work, in other words, don’t grind your foot into the ball, use as much pressure as you can while still being comfortable!

Then massage back and forwards over the entire length of your foot (from heel to toe) for one minute. Remember to do both feet to maintain balance.

To further increase the benefit, add in these additional movements:

Roll the ball around in small circles on your forefoot for 30 seconds.

Then roll the ball around in small circles on the heel of your foot for 30 seconds.

Repeat the above process on your other foot.

“Even if you don’t have time for a big workout, stretching in the morning and night really changes your body.”

Erin Heatherton

Step #3: Ice is Nice!

Heel pain is made even more painful because of inflammation. With inflammation we see heat, swelling and pain. Cooling the inflamed heel tissues with ice can bring about significant relief!

So here what you need to do

Fill a 600ml water bottle with water and freeze it.

Once frozen, roll your foot over the bottle back and forwards through the arch of your foot (heel to toes) using the weight of your leg only (don’t push down hard).

Do this exercise sitting down for 3-5 minutes at a time.

This exercise is especially effective at the end of the day, after a day of activity or at times when the heel pain is particularly sore and can provide some instant relief from the pain.

TIP: Using a bottle with bumps and grooves will further increase the massaging benefit of this exercise.

The key to these exercises helping you is to do them regularly. Aim for first thing in the morning and before you go to bed at night for best results. Typically improvement can be felt in 7-10 days.

For Heel Pain assessment and treatment please contact us.

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