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Does your child suffer from sore heels after sports?

July 19, 2019

Is your child complaining of heel pain? Do they hobble or limp every time they play sport? Chances are they may be suffering from Severe’s disease – a common type of heel pain amongst active children and adolescents.

So what exactly is it? Well in growing aged kids, the bones in the body can sometimes grow faster than the muscles and tendons are able to adapt. If you add strenuous sporting activities into the mix, it can then cause an inflamed growth plate, at the back of the heel bone where the Achilles tendon attaches – this is known as Severe’s disease.

Common factors that lead to the development of Severe’s include an excessive tightness of the calf (gastrocnemius) muscles, repeated trauma caused by strenuous activity as well as a pronated (flat foot) type. Podiatrists commonly encounter and treat this painful condition.

Tips to help combat Severe’s disease:

·     Reducing high intensity sports – rather than giving up on sports completely, if there is significant inflammation and pain, it’s best to reduce the intensity and frequency until symptoms are resolved

·     Proper footwear – shoes that lack proper support and structure can place excessive impact forces on the heels during walking and running and may easily exacerbate symptoms. Avoid bear foot walking at all costs.

·     Calf stretches – this reduces some of the tension on the growth plate as it helps to ease the pull of the Achilles tendon. It should be performed so long as there isn’t any significant pain when doing so, and ideally 2-3 times daily.

·     Icing – Using an icepack over the painful area for 5-10 minutes can help reduce some of the pain. It can be carried out multiple times during the day and best to do straight after sporting activities.

Severe’s disease can effectively be treated with the right management plan. In addition to discussing the home treatments as above, a podiatrist can design and prescribe specialised orthotics, use heel raises and recommend a specialised boot or a walker to facilitate healing and allow for proper recovery of the growth plate, when deemed necessary. At East Perth Podiatry, we love to help our younger patients combat and overcome this ailment. If your child is experiencing heel pain, it might be worthwhile bringing them for a professional assessment and treatment. If you have any questions, feel free to send us a message, as we’re always happy to discuss and answer any questions you may have. 

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Navid Wali