The Best Way to Manage Children's Heel Pain
As a Podiatrist I see many active children with heel pain come into the clinic.
They are often frustrated as it is stopping them from playing sport or keeping in touch with their friends.
Heel pain in children is often caused by rapid growth spurts while playing sport or doing a high amount of activity.
Severs or Calcaneal Apophysitis is a condition that many children get which causes them to have heel pain.
In this blog, I will explain what is Severs and the 5 best steps to manage it to keep your child active.
The feet your child is born with are the feet they will have for life
What is Severs?
To put simply Severs is a condition where your child goes through a growth spurt their bones grow quicker than their muscles can keep up; especially the calf muscles.
During these growth spurts, they have active growth plates on their heels which get irritated by tightness through the calf muscles.
These tight calf muscles pull on these active growth plates causing pain.
Severs is most common in very active children aged between 8-12 years of age.
5 Steps to Manage Severs
Step 1: Have an Assessment from your Podiatrist
This is important to confirm the diagnosis and that your child's heel pain isn't anything sinister.
Your Podiatrist will do a full biomechanical assessment on your child to check their gait, range of motion and strength.
This will allow them to provide you with an individualised management plan which will include:
- Pain management strategies
- Load management strategies
- Footwear advice
- Offloading strategies: heel raises
- Strength and conditioning program
Step 2: Check their Sport and Activity Load
One of the main causes of Severs is having a high activity or sports load.
It is common to have a child come into my clinic saying that they play for 2 different club teams and a representative team, meaning that they are training every night of the week and then playing multiple games on the weekend.
Rarely I would suggest a complete stop to sport during Severs.
However, we will need to review your child's current sports load and focus on the teams that they are most serious about.
This will only be for the short term until their pain is better controlled.
Step 3: Check their Shoes
Flat shoes like sketches or vans with no or minimal heel drop inbuilt into them will cause more strain on your child's heel.
We have some tips to consider when Buying Children's shoes.
Most Football boots also have an inbuilt negative heel drop meaning that the heel sits lower than their toes, which will cause your child more pain.
Getting your child into trainers with a heel raise and support is going to make them more comfortable.
Step 4: Offload the Heel
The other main cause of Severs is a rapid growth spurt causing the calf and Achilles to become tighter.
Heel raises are a simple and effective way to lift your child's heel in their shoes to reduce the strain from the Achilles.
These can be inserted into most shoes and even some Football boots depending on the style.
Heel raises should have an instant impact on reducing your child's pain to keep them active.
Step 5: Strengthen and Stretch
A Strength & conditioning program is an important next step after your child pain has reduced.
Exercises such as calf raises help strengthen and lengthen the calves are the main focus.
Long static stretches may increase the compression strain on your child's heel.
During your assessment, your Podiatrist will help your child with an individualised strength and conditioning program.
We are here to help
Over 40% of Australians will experience some form of foot problem during their lives.
If you are noticing limping or if they complain about help pain, the first thing to do is book an appointment with one of the Podiatrists at Complete Podiatry for a comprehensive assessment to identify what is causing their foot problems.
Once this is done, we will develop a structured management plan that outlines our best advice for how to help them to return to doing the things they love to do without needing to worry about their feet.
Just call us on 8330 0004, I'll love to talk to you about how we can help you build an amazing life from the feet up!
Podiatrist at Complete Podiatry