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Heel Pain in the Morning? Here's What It May Mean

Heel Pain in the Morning? Here's What It May Mean

Your heels get the brunt of your steps every day. Even though you need to get in your steps to keep your cardiovascular system fit, every mile you walk puts about 60 tons of stress on each of your poor little feet. No wonder they complain!

Heels are often the first place where you feel foot pain. Most of us strike the ground heel first when we take a step while walking or running. But why is heel pain worse in the morning? What’s that about?

At Advanced Foot & Ankle Center, our board-certified podiatrists diagnose and treat your heel pain at our offices throughout Utah. If necessary, we also conduct a gait evaluation to see if your walking or running style places undue force on your heels.

Why do you have heel pain in the morning? Here are some of the most common reasons.

Plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is inflammation due to minute tears in the plantar fascia, a band of tissue that stretches from your heel to your toes. When it’s healthy, your plantar fascia helps to absorb those 60 tons of stress per mile, keeping your toe bones and legs safe.

However, a torn and stretched plantar fascia can’t protect your feet from stress. The injured tissue becomes swollen and stiff, especially if you haven’t been moving and stretching it in a while. That’s why your heel pain is most severe in the morning after you’ve been off your feet for 6-9 hours.

Another sign that your heel pain is due to plantar fasciitis is that it subsides slightly as you walk around during your day. You may also have a flare-up of pain after you’ve been sitting for a while and then stand again.

Achilles tendonitis

Your Achilles tendon runs from your calf to your heel. Unlike plantar fasciitis, which affects the bottom of your heel, you probably feel pain from Achilles tendinitis at the back of your heel.

Pain from an inflamed Achilles tendon also tends to be worse in the morning. When you sleep or rest, circulation to your feet slows down. Unfortunately, unlike plantar fasciitis, the pain of Achilles tendinitis doesn’t lessen with activity. You probably feel pain in your heel all day long.

Stress fracture

Did you know that you can break a bone in your foot and never know it? Stress fractures, sometimes called hairline fractures, are tiny cracks in your bones that don’t displace the bones.

Walking doesn’t ease the pain of a stress fracture. In fact, your pain may even worsen after your morning excruciation.


If your thyroid gland is underactive, it can affect your feet. Unbalanced thyroid hormones can cause other chemical imbalances in your body, including inflammation in your:

Sometimes hypothyroidism can trap, irritate, or damage your tibial nerve. If you have other symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as unexplained weight gain or fatigue, the condition may also be at the root of your heel pain.

Stone bruise

You may have stepped on a hard object, such as a piece of brick or stone when you were taking risks with your feet by walking or running barefoot outdoors (see our other blog this month for the pros and cons of going barefoot!). The stone may bruise the fat pad that protects your heel. You may or may not see discoloration, too.

Does your heel make you greet your morning with a grimace of pain? Start your day right by calling our team at the office nearest you today, or simply book your appointment online for foot pain treatment.

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