Post provided by Barbara Bergin, MD
Let me say first off, that if you’re not the kind of person who would floss their teeth to prevent tooth decay, you probably won’t be interested in this or most of what I have to tell you.
Why is the morning a time when we often experience pain and stiffness? Think about it. Name one other time when you spend several hours in basically the same position. It’s particularly so for the feet. There is not one single moment during the night when you bring your feet to a neutral position or a dorsiflexed (pointed up) position. Your foot is pointed down ALL NIGHT LONG. And honestly, it’s not just pointed down in a relaxed pose. It is POINTED down. Sometimes when people wear splints or casts to bed at night, they get numbness in their toes. Sometimes they can even get blisters. The toes want to point down and the muscles are actually pulling them down. So after 6-8 hours of that, you go and immediately stand up…well, sometimes the feet balk a little. Give them a break. Stretch them. Say “good morning” to your feet. They’re at the bottom of your body and over a lifetime they take a lot of abuse. Give them a little TLC.
I also recommend that you stretch the bottom of your feet before standing up after you’ve been sitting for awhile. Many of my patients complain of plantar foot pain in the morning when they first wake up and less so after they’ve been sitting awhile. Once again, notice where your feet go when you sit, especially if you’re sitting for an hour or more; like while you’re watching a movie, or in church. They relax and they point down. The plantar fascia begins to seek its shortened position. When you stand up, you strain it with the pressure of your body weight bearing down on that tender band. So make it a habit to wiggle your feet up and down a little. Push your feet back against the floor, as if you were trying to stretch your Achilles tendon. Cross your leg and push back your big toe, like I described for your morning stretch.