It is true that after sleeping, the muscles in your foot and calf naturally tighten up — so many individuals can experience some form of foot or heel pain in the morning and it’s actually not so uncommon. However, if you consistently have morning heel pain, that might be plantar fasciitis. As you’ll want to relieve the problem — or at least reduce it — before you get your day going, here are some ideas.
Morning Stretches For Heel Pain
We even made a video for you about morning heel pain: It’s essentially a series of three exercises:
- Legs straight out in front of you to start, then point and flex toes to get the muscles warmed up; point your toes down as far as you can, then flex them back up (10 reps)
- Put your feet out in front of you, then wrap a belt around the ball of one foot. Grab the belt with one hand on each side of your leg, then sit up as straight as possible. The goal here is to use your arm strength to pull the ball of your foot into a flexed position (without using foot strength). If the belt is on the ball of the foot and not just the toes, this becomes a more effective stretch for plantar fasciitis. (30 seconds per side)
- Start with the inner side of the arch of your foot, and massage across to the outer arch. Use light pressure and massage the foot ligaments, essentially to prepare for your body weight when you do get up. (15-20 seconds.)
Those are easy, basic morning stretches you can do before getting out of bed, and if any of the bullet points confused you, watch the video above to see it done live.
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Wall stretches are another good option. All you have to do is place the palms of both hands on a wall as you stand about 1 foot back from it (maybe slightly more). Step back with one foot, keeping that leg straight at the knee, and both feet flat on the floor. Bend your front leg at the knee, then press the wall with both hands. Visually, it looks like this:
Finally, consider a towel curl (yes, that’s a thing). Sit on a chair. Put a towel in front of you, flat on the ground. Use the toes of one foot to grip the towel and then curl it towards you. Repeat with the other foot. Here is is visually:
If you’re trying these morning heel pain exercises and combining them with the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation), orthotic inserts, and other tips throughout this site, your plantar fasciitis should be healing nicely. And if you combine all this with some pilates to strengthen your core and improve your movements, your return to running should be mostly pain-free and even more effective than before.