The first few steps are always the most painful. You sit up in your bed, stretch your arms then place your feet on the ground. As the weight of your body shifts from mattress to floor, you feel a needle enter your heel.

A ton of people experience this every single morning. While there are a number of potential causes, most people with morning foot pain suffer from plantar fasciitis. Briefly, plantar fasciitis occurs when small tears develop in the plantar fascia. This length of tissue is found on the bottom of our feet, stretching from the heels to the toes. The tears in this delicate tissue lead to inflammation and the subsequent pain that's often abbreviated as PF.

Who develops Plantar fasciitis and why?

People who rely heavily on the use of their feet are susceptible to this condition. Athletes, for example, often develop cases of PF. High impact sports like basketball and sprinting seem to be particularly hard on the plantar fascia. This makes perfect sense really. Picture the bottom of your foot contracting and extending with each heavy step. It's easy to see how the little tears in that soft tissue come to be. Men and women who work on their feet are also prone to this condition and the uncomfortable morning foot pain discussed above. Health care workers doing twelve hour shifts without sufficient breaks are all aware of the dangers of PF. Mail sorters, factory workers and bank tellers should also take note. People in these professions may not realize their painful mornings are due to PF. This is bad... Plantar fasciitis doesn't just go away. Left untreated, it will get worse.

Dealing with PF during the day

There are a number of different ways to deal with the pain that is plantar fasciitis. During the day, a good pair of shoes can help a great deal. Even a cheap set of orthotics can do wonders for men and women who work on their feet all day. Good footwear takes some of the strain off your feet from a shock absorbing point of view. Making your foot take the brunt of every heavy step is just silly. Get a good pair of shoes that take blow after blow for you! This will help with the pain and create healthier, stronger feet that won't give you such much grief going forward.

Stretching is another way to ward off a potential bout of PF. Rolling a cold can of beer or a tennis ball under your foot while sitting on the sofa can help. This keeps the plantar fascia from becoming too tight. It serves to keep the bottom of your foot lightly engaged while you're sitting down. This is great but it doesn't solve the painful problems of early morning first steps. You obviously can't roll a tennis ball under your foot while sleeping though...

What's the best way to stretch your foot out at night?

Keeping your plantar fascia from contracting while you sleep is an excellent way to avoid morning foot pain. We can do this by keeping our feet stretched out while we're snoozing. There are a number of products on the market (most of them fairly affordable) that assist PF sufferers with this task. They're usually referred to as night splints or night boots for plantar fasciitis. Have a look at for an idea of what these products look like and how they work. You can also read a number of reviews from PF patients who have tried these products.

In this former PF sufferer's humble opinion, the best one out there is the Strassburg Sock. Unlike the majority of night splints out there, the Sock isn't a big black bulky mess of plastic and straps. It's simple, effective and inexpensive. Again, I encourage you to read a few reviews and make an informed decision. Your mornings don't have to be painful. Take the needle out of your heel for good!