Football and Heel pain
With the footy season well and truly having kicked off now, we are seeing a growing number of children present to our clinics with heel pain.
Kid’s football (both ALF and soccer) involves a lot of running, growing bodies and football shoes, which combined together, can contribute to the development of heel pain in susceptible children.
Typically, children with this problem experience pain at the back of their heel, which may be replicated by giving the heel bone a gentle squeeze.
They feel the pain first thing in the morning, which tends to subside with gentle activity and their pain tends to flare up with increased activity and is relieved with rest.
This type of heel pain is called Sever's Disease or Calcaneal Apophysitis.
What Is Sever's Disease?
Firstly, it is important to understand that Sever's Disease is not a disease like Covid-19 or chickenpox. You cant catch Sever's disease.
As your child grows, sometimes the muscles do not lengthen at the same speed as the bones grow, meaning the muscles in the back of the leg can become tight.
This causes an increased pulling force from the Achilles Tendon on the growth plate of the calcaneus (heel bone), leading to microtrauma, inflammation and pain.
Sever's Disease is relatively common in active children aged between 8-12 years of age and in children who do lots of running and jumping sports, ie. netball, football, little athletics, basketball and soccer.
It can be exacerbated by wearing unsupportive, flat footwear and is more common following growth spurts.
How Do You Treat Sever's Disease?
Sever's Disease is most effectively managed through a combination of therapies including:
1. Pain management
Managing your child's pain is super important as pain can limit their ability to perform the strengthening exercises needed to fix Sever's.
Icing your child’s heel following playing sport and at night time and using anti-inflammatory gels on the area can help to reduce pain.
2. Activity Modification
If your child is super active, a period of reduced or modified activity may help to settle your child’s pain.
As Podiatrists, we understand keeping your child active is very important, so it’s important to find the right balance of activity to reduce your child’s pain, but keep them happy and moving.
Footwear assessment is important to ensure your child is wearing the right type of shoe for their feet and for the activity they are doing.
Certain shoes like football boots can have a low heel height, which may increase your child’s pain.
Getting your kids into the right sorts of football shoes for them is vitally important.
4. Strengthening exercises
Maintaining an appropriate range of motion and strength in the calf muscles and ankle joint can help to reduce the stress on the heel bone.
Again, your Podiatrist will prescribe some gentle exercises to help with your child’s heel pain.
5. Heel pads
One of the most important parts of treating Sever's is to reduce the load in the achillies tendon where it joins into the heel bone.
To help do this we often will provide children with Sever's with soft heel pads to put into their shoes to cushion their sore heels as well as reduce stress on the tendon.
6. Biomechanical assessment
Every child moves differently.
Our podiatrists will perform a thorough biomechanical assessment of your child to examine the way they walk and move and how their feet work.
Many times, managing abnormal biomechanical factors through the use of foot orthoses or paddings can also help to manage your child’s heel pain.
We Are Here To Help
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 your child's heel pain.
Once this is done, we will develop a structured management plan for your child that outlines our best advice for how to help them return to doing the things they love to do without needing to worry about their heel pain.
Just call us on 8330 0004, we'd love to talk to you about how we can help your child build an amazing life from the feet up!
Yours in helping to build amazing lives from the feet up.
Director of Complete Podiatry