Why do your feet hurt when you wake up – Cleveland Clinic

It may be a sharp, stinging pain that extends along the bottom of your foot. Or maybe your heels feel tight or throbbing on top of your feet when you wake up. If you feel pain in your feet in the morning, you may be wondering if you just got up on the wrong side of the bed or if there is something to worry about.

Cleveland Clinic is a not-for-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse products or services that are not affiliated with Cleveland Clinic. Policy

According to podiatrist Dina Stock, morning foot pain or heel pain can be caused by a number of conditions due to a lack of support or overuse of tendons or ligaments.

Here are four common conditions that may cause you pain first thing in the morning and how you can deal with them.

plantar fasciitis

If you stand for long periods of time or are an athlete who hits the ground running, this is a common condition that you may encounter. Your foot contains ligaments called the plantar fascia that extend from your heel to the base of your toes. These laces support the arch of your foot and absorb pressure while walking or running. When these ligaments become inflamed or torn, you develop a condition called plantar fasciitis.

“When you step down, you feel sharp pain in the affected area,” says Dr. Stock. “One of the things you want to do is have more flexibility in this area.”

This is the most common condition that leads to heel pain first thing in the morning. You may feel very tight in your heels and can feel sharp pain very quickly once you get out of bed and take a few steps after getting out of bed. Often times, this pain goes away on its own as you walk and wake those ligaments up, but sometimes, this pain can last all day. To help relieve this pain, Dr. Stock suggests stretching in bed when you first wake up before putting your feet on the floor.

You can do this by wrapping a towel or rubber band around the front of your foot and gently pulling your foot toward you. Hold this position for 20 seconds, then relax and repeat this stretch 5 to 10 times before getting out of bed. You should continue to stretch throughout the day.

Achilles tendonitis

Similar to plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis occurs when the Achilles tendon at the back of your heel becomes inflamed or irritated. This tendon helps you run, walk, and jump, but if your Achilles tendon is overstressed or overused, it can become stiff, painful, and swollen. You may feel pain in your heels first thing in the morning, but you may also feel pain when you exercise, climb stairs, or move around all day. If left untreated, it may feel difficult to walk.

To help relieve the pain, you should rest, ice the tendon for up to 20 minutes at a time throughout the day, and reduce the swelling by elevating your leg. If the pain persists, your doctor can provide anti-inflammatory medication or you may need immobilization. There are some surgical procedures you can have as well, if the pain persists and does not respond to conservative treatment.

“The treatment of Achilles tendinitis is very similar to plantar fasciitis,” Dr. Stock points out.

flat feet

About 2 in 10 people have flat feet – and many people who have them don’t have any problems. If your foot is flat, you may have never developed your arch, or your arch has fallen out as an adult. This can happen if you have an infection or rupture of the tendon in the leg that supports your arch.

“You want to accommodate the foot so you don’t overwork all these other structures,” says Dr. Stock. “Instability in your foot can lead to a lot of different conditions in your tendons, ligaments, and joints, so supporting your arches is the most important thing you can do if you have flat feet.”

Flat feet can aggravate other conditions such as plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendonitis. Therefore, it is important to support your feet by wearing good running sneakers or using accessories in your shoes for extra support. You can also strengthen your fallen arches or flat feet with a number of stretches and exercises, such as arch raises and heel raises.

And if your feet are flat, then you should stay away from wearing sandals or walking barefoot.


If you have pain in the morning along the top of your foot or in your ankles, you may have arthritis. Arthritis occurs when cartilage wears down and joints rub against each other, bone upon bone. This can happen with regular wear and tear as you age (osteoporosis). You could also have rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis, which are caused by inflammation.

“It’s important to differentiate which type of arthritis you have,” Dr. Stock says. “If you have arthritis, you have to reduce the inflammation in your body.”

What to do if you hurt your foot in the morning

If you have foot pain in the morning, try stretching before you get out of bed and throughout the day. You may also want to consider wearing a night splint to help position your injured foot at a 90-degree angle while you sleep. This can help tighten tense muscles and ligaments. It may also be helpful to refrain from sleeping on your stomach and to leave your feet flat.

If you try to stretch, wear better sneakers, and/or use extensions in your shoes and you continue to feel pain, you may want to make an appointment with your doctor. And if you have any visual swelling or skin discoloration, or if your foot feels warm to the touch, you should make an appointment right away because you may have a torn ligament or tendon.

“Often, if your pain is mild or moderate, the first thing we will do is change your support, recommend a stretching protocol, and make recommendations for ice and activity modification,” Dr. Stock says.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: