Saturday, April 01, 2023
Common Foot Problems FOOT HEALTH

Foot Pain After Sitting (And What You Can Do to STOP It) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read full Disclosure here.

Foot pain after sitting for prolonged periods is quite common. You’ve probably heard the saying “sitting is the new smoking.” Although this may be a bit of an exaggeration, there’s no denying that too much time spent sitting can lead to all sorts of health problems, including foot pain.

In this article, we’ll discuss all the different reasons foot pain can occur after you’ve been sitting for a long time. 

Let’s dive in…

Reasons Why Your Feet May Hurt When You Get Up From Sitting

feet on mat

1) You May Have Plantar Fasciitis

When you sit, your feet are in a position known as plantar flexion. This means that your toes are pointed downwards. This leads to tightness in both the Achilles tendon in the back of your ankle and the plantar fascia. 

The plantar fascia is the ligament that supports the arch on the bottom of your foot. The plantar fascia originates in the heel and fans into your toes. 

When your Achilles tendon and plantar fascia become tight, you may develop plantar fasciitis. This is due to inflammation/degeneration of the ligament. This can cause pain in both the arch and heel when you stand up from a seated position. 

How Is Plantar Fasciitis Diagnosed?

If you suspect you have plantar fasciitis and your heel pain/arch pain is not improving, you should visit your local foot doctor. Your foot doctor will perform a history and physical exam. 

Your doctor will order an x-ray to rule out other causes of foot pain (such as a stress fracture). The plantar fascia cannot be visualized on an x-ray. Your doctor may suggest ordering an MRI to evaluate the plantar fascia. 

On an MRI, the plantar fascia will appear thickened and diseased. An MRI can also be helpful to rule out tears present in the plantar fascia. 

How Is Plantar Fasciitis Treated?

If you are sitting for a long period, make sure you get up every 30 minutes and stretch both your plantar fascia and Achilles tendon. 

You can check out these plantar fasciitis stretching exercises to make sure you are doing them properly. 

Stretching is a very important tool in alleviating pain associated with plantar fasciitis. Stretching should be done consistently. 

Talk to your foot doctor about orthotics.

Orthotics can help elevate the arch and relieve tension along the plantar fascia.

Custom orthotics are ideal, however, they can be pricey. Custom orthotics are custom-made for your foot structure and often last a long time. Check with your insurance company to see if they would be a covered benefit for you. 

Over-the-counter orthotics can still be greatly beneficial in alleviating pain associated with plantar fasciitis.

I recommend the Powerstep orthotic brand. These orthotics are incredibly supportive, fit into multiple shoes, and provide the appropriate amount of arch support needed to support the fascia. 

  • For mild to moderate flatfeet, I recommend the Powerstep Protech orthotic. It is supportive, and will often last for 6-12 months. Remove your shoe liners before placing them in your shoes. 
  • For severe flat feet, I recommend the Powerstep Maxx orthotic. These have the same advantages as the Powerstep Protech orthotic but with an added extrinsic lift on the bottom of the insole that helps prevent the foot from rolling inwards (pronating). 
  • For high-arched feet, I recommend the Powerstep Pinnacle High Arch orthotic. It is supportive and works well for people who have high arches. 

You can also massage the fascia regularly. You don’t need a fancy foot massager to do this. You can buy a manual massager on Amazon and roll your foot over this daily. This can help make the plantar fascia more supple and improve blood flow. 

Corticosteroid injections can be beneficial in alleviating pain associated with plantar fasciitis. 

Check out this supplemental article Do Cortisone Shots Work For Plantar Fasciitis?

To read more about what could be causing heel pain, check out this supplemental post Top 5 Reasons Your Heel Hurts From Walking.

compression stockings

2) Foot Swelling Can Cause Foot Pain After Sitting

When your legs are hanging down in a dependent position while sitting, the veins are less efficient in pushing blood back up to the heart. In some people, the veins in the legs are damaged. This is called venous insufficiency

Prolonged sitting can cause blood to pool in the legs and feet. This in itself can cause achiness and pain in the feet after sitting. 

When you are walking, the calf muscles help to pump the blood in the veins back up to the heart. When you are sitting, the calf muscles can’t do this efficiently. 

How Is Venous Insufficiency Diagnosed?

Venous insufficiency is often diagnosed clinically. Many people may have swelling in their legs and feet along with varicose veins that are visible due to increased pressure in the veins. 

However, your doctor may choose to order a venous duplex ultrasound to look at the structure and function of your veins. This can help diagnose venous insufficiency. 

How Is Venous Insufficiency Treated?

Compression stockings are a great treatment for venous insufficiency. Compression stockings can be incredibly beneficial in helping pump blood back up to the heart. 

This is especially important for people who sit all day long. Make sure to order the correct size and strength of stockings. Measure your ankle and your calf and compare them to the manufacturer’s sizing chart to ensure you order the right size. 

I recommend starting with compression stocking strength of 15 to 20 mmHg. I prefer the Jobst brand from Amazon. You can wear compression stockings all day and remove them at night. They can sometimes be difficult to apply but are very effective. 

Do not wear stockings if you have peripheral vascular disease as this can cause pain in the legs.

Make sure to get plenty of exercise during the day. Even walking for 10-15 minutes every hour can help.


3) You May Have Neuropathy in Your Feet

Sitting for prolonged periods can lead to weight gain. This can increase your risk for diabetes and hypercholesterolemia. The problem with elevated blood sugar levels is that it can cause nerve damage. This nerve damage can happen early (even in the prediabetic phase). 

This can lead to burning, tingling, and numbness in the feet. 

How Is Neuropathy Diagnosed?

If you have neuropathy sensations in your feet, make sure you see your local foot doctor. Your doctor will check your sensation using a Semmes Weinstein Monofilament Wire. This wire applies 10g of pressure to the foot. If you cannot feel the wire in certain areas of the foot, you have neuropathy. 

Your doctor may refer you to a Neurologist to get a Nerve Conduction Test (NCV) done. This test can help confirm the presence of neuropathy. 

How Is Neuropathy Treated?

Neuropathy can be treated by the use of topical creams such as Aspercreme with Lidocaine 4% cream and topical Capsaicin. Oral medications such as Gabapentin and Lyrica are effective for neuropathy and will need to be prescribed by your physician. 

To read more about how to manage diabetic neuropathy in detail, check out this supplemental post Diabetic Neuropathy In the Feet- A Simple Treatment Guide

4) Improper Shoe Gear Could Be Causing Foot Pain After Sitting

Wearing the right kinds of shoes for your feet is important in preventing foot pain. Wearing constrictive shoe gear that is pressing uncomfortably on your toes and the tops of her feet can cause painful corns and even nerve pain. 

This pain can be further aggravated when you get up to stand and walk around. 

Read more about how Bad Shoes Can Cause Foot Pain in this detailed guide.

How You Can Find the Right Shoes for Your Feet

You should go to the shoe store at the end of the day when your feet are the most swollen to have the length and width of your feet measured.  

Year feet should be measured using a Brannock device to get an accurate measurement.  

Here’s a video by The Vintage Future below by on how to measure your feet size accurately using a Brannock device.

The orthotist/sales rep at the shoe store will recommend shoe gear based on your foot size as well as your foot structure.  

You can also request a consultation with your foot doctor to discuss shoe gear options.

Finding well-fitted shoes can help to prevent foot pain. 


In conclusion, foot pain that occurs after sitting can be a major issue and should be addressed quickly. More and more people work at a desk job, and it’s important to be physically active whenever possible to alleviate foot discomfort.

Shoe gear also plays an important role in preventing foot pain. Talk to your local foot doctor if you experience foot pain that has not resolved. 

Do you experience foot pain when you stand up from a seated position? What has helped resolve this issue for you? I would love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below!

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foot pain sitting

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Vaishnavi Bawa
Dr. Vaishnavi Bawa is a Podiatrist who specializes in treating foot and ankle pathology. LifesLittleSteps mission is to educate the public about foot health in an easy-to-understand manner using evidence-based medicine.
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