Plantar Fasciitis is often associated with excruciating morning pain in the form of shooting or stabbing sensations that accompany those first steps out of bed each day.
But many people who suffer from Plantar Fasciitis also experience heel pain in the middle of the night, which can make for a long, sleepless, and painful night.
What can you do if you wake up in the middle of the night with painful heels? These five tricks will help you get back to sleep–and back to healthy arches–in no time.
Trick #1: Keep a Ball on Your Nightstand
A quick massage using items you probably already have at home can provide effective, simple pain relief in the middle of the night. Keep a tennis ball, golf ball, (or a washable Foot Massage Ball) on your nightstand. If heel pain from Plantar Fasciitis wakes you up in the week hours of the night, simply swing your leg over the edge of the bed and spend a few minutes applying gentle but firm pressure as you roll the ball along the floor from your heel to the ball of your foot, along the arch. This gentle massage will increase blood flow, disrupt pain signals in the nerves, and break up adhesions and scar tissue along the plantar fascia.
Keep the massage going for approximately sixty seconds, then take a break and repeat once more, honing in on any “hot spots” you find that are extra painful. To avoid waking up more than necessary, keep your eyes closed and the lights off in your room while you perform this massage.
Trick #2: Try Ice Slippers
Icing is a tried and true method for temporary pain relief. But by the time you find a baggie, fill it with ice, and hold it in the right spot for 20 minutes, you’re likely to be wide awake. And the last thing you need is pain relief that disrupts your sleep even more.
Thankfully, an innovative and inexpensive product can help: Ice Therapy Slippers are foot-shaped ice packs that can be strapped right onto the bottom of your foot. No mess, no fuss, and you can fall back asleep quickly without fear of waking up in a puddle!
Trick #3: Sleep with a Night Splint or Sock Splint
If you find yourself waking up with night pain from Plantar Fasciitis regularly, it may be possible to head off the problem completely by wearing a night splint or sock night splint while you sleep. Both products hold the foot or feet in a gentle stretch all night long, avoiding the tightness and stiffness associated with a damaged arch.
Choose a night splint that is durable, lightweight, and breathable enough that it won’t disrupt your sleep (you’ve had enough of that!). Or, if you’re looking for a softer, lighter alternative, choose a sock night splint for maximum comfort. Night splints have the added benefit of reducing morning pain that accompanies Plantar Fasciitis, in addition to helping relieve night pain.
Trick #4 Stretch in Bed
The idea of stretching in the middle of the night might sound unappealing–and a fast way to completely wake yourself up. But several effective stretches can be performed in bed, with the lights off, using just a pillowcase or a hand towel. This series of stretches can help loosen tight ligaments in the foot and calves, improve circulation to the nerves and tissue, and relieve the pain that woke you up in the first place:
Simply sit up in bed, keeping your legs together and your feet extended. Keep your eyes closed, and stay relaxed and calm while you slowly point your toes outward and down, ten times.
Next, wrap that pillowcase or hand towel around the ball of one foot, keeping hold of both ends. Sit up straight, and use your arms to gently but firmly pull the ball of your foot back toward your body, while you flex the foot. Hold the stretch for thirty seconds (letting your arms do the pulling, not the flex of your foot), then switch to the other foot.
Finish this series of stretches in bed with a short massage of the arches and calves, using your fingers and thumbs.
Trick #5 Elevate Your Legs and Feet
Use a pillow to elevate you feet slightly while you sleep, to improve blood circulation and reduce swelling and inflammation from Plantar Fasciitis. Feet can be safely elevated at six to twelve inches while you sleep, using a standard pillow. Or, if you’re a side sleeper, you may find a body pillow to be more comfortable in elevating just the affected foot while you sleep on your side and hug the pillow to your body.
Waking up in the middle of the night is a bothersome experience all by itself. Add heel pain to the mix, and it’s a dark night indeed. However, by using these simple tricks (and by committing to a dedicated routine of Plantar Fasciitis treatments during the day!), you can get back to dreamland quickly!