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woman with sore feet in the morning massaging foot

When Sore Feet In The Morning Is Not Plantar Fasciitis

If you get up out of bed and suffer from sore feet in the morning there’s a good chance someone in your life has told you it’s “plantar fasciitis”.

And fair enough. 

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common foot injuries that affects around 10% of all Australians. It’s also often particularly painful when you get up in the morning or if you’ve been sitting for a while and getting moving again. 

But that doesn’t mean that your sore feet in the morning are suffering from plantar fasciitis.

There’s more than just one cause of morning heel pain.

Achilles tendinopathy and a heel fat pad injury are both common causes of morning foot pain and are often misdiagnosed as plantar fasciitis.

There are even subtypes of Achilles tendinopathy too. You can have insertional or mid-portion Achilles tendinopathy BOTH of which can cause you pain in the morning when you first get out of bed.

I can think of one clear example that came through to see us in our Pascoe Vale podiatry clinic. This client of ours had been struggling every single morning with a sore foot. Each day, they would get out of bed and feel a sharp pain in their foot. They’d limp and struggle their way to the bathroom to run some warm water over their foot as advised by their doctor.

When this client came through, it was the first time they’d seen a podiatrist. 

Actually, it was the first time they had shown their sore foot to any health professional. Their googling and quick 5-minute chat with their GP (at the end of their medical consult where they talked about much more than just their sore foot) had convinced them it was plantar fasciitis.

But on our examination… gather round friends. I think you know where this is going…

It was not plantar fasciitis, but their Achilles tendon insertion.

From our history and clinical examination, we could connect their sore heels in the morning with their recent increase in physical activity over a couple of months. Their heel was particularly sore at the back near where your shoes would touch your heel bone.

From there we could implement a treatment program that took into consideration their goals. They wanted to be able to run their local 5Km parkrun pain-free AND wake up each morning without having a sore heel and limping around their bed.

The steps we put in place were:

So if you’re struggling with sore feet in the morning here are 3 steps to get you going again.

You’ll need to know exactly what is causing your sore feet in the morning, but you can also try a few things whilst you’re waiting on your podiatry appointment.

These pointers can provide you with just enough relief to get you through to your first podiatry session and ready to implement your personalised treatment plan.

Tip #1: Complete a bed-based warm-up routine. 

When you’re still lying in bed spend 2 minutes warming up your feet before stepping onto the floor. Start by pumping your ankles up and down and then drawing big circles with your feet. 

While this won’t fix your sore feet in the morning completely it can make those first few steps more bearable.

Tip #2: Place your supportive slippers or slides next to the bed. 

Have your supportive slippers or slides right next to you so when you roll out of the covers you can get straight into some support.

Not only will your toes thank you for doing this (particularly on cold Melbourne mornings) but your sore feet will appreciate not having to work quite as hard on those first few steps.

Tip #3: Get an appointment with your podiatrist quick-smart. 

Your sore feet in the morning are a sign that something is working too hard. 

The most common types of morning foot pain are still:

But there are a couple of others too. To ensure you treat the cause of your symptoms and have an actionable and personal plan to work towards you’ll need that guidance that only your podiatrist can provide.

So don’t get fooled into thinking that your sore feet in the morning are definitely struggling with plantar fasciitis, or, that it will just go away.

That morning pain is your reminder that your brain is sensing danger and wanting you to act. Get stuck into those 3 tips and you’ll be on your path to happier mornings for your feet.

Now you’re ready, you can book in online with your podiatrists at any of our clinics.

About the Author

tim mulholland podiatrist melbourne and pascoe vale

Melbourne podiatrist Tim Mulholland has seen, heard and felt it before. After suffering with sore feet in the morning after a decent (and traumatic) foot injury he just wants you to be able to get your feet on the ground and enjoy your day.