HEEL PAIN IN CHILDREN
Sever’s is most common in 9 - 12 year olds. It’s sore to squeeze the bone at the base of the Achilles where it attaches onto the heel. It’s not something that can be seen - it never seems to look red or swollen. It’s worse after sprinting, jumping, and hopping. It settles with rest. It is an overuse injury so it’s common in pre-season, or anytime training loads increase too quickly. My kids get it when they do extra sessions in running spikes or footy boots, without the normal heel support of their running shoes. It’s an overuse injury from excessive loads.
When we talk about excessive loads it can be “external” load such as:
I think the running pace is the more powerful multiplier in this list. Extra sprint sessions will do it. My kids got sore once when we did a boot-camp session with a novel plyometric exercise - split jumps.
There are also “internal” variables that determine our ability to cope with the training load:
My kids definitely are more prone to Sever’s if they’ve had a couple of late nights that week. And, if they’re having a growth spurt, their bodies are busy spending resources on growing rather than recovering from the stress of a training session.
Text books say that Sever’s disease is self-limiting because the growth plate eventually fuses by the age of 15 or 16. But I don’t think there’s anyone who would be happy to just let it run its course until then. It is usually sore enough to stop you participating in sport, so it needs treatment.
WHAT DO WE DO?
I used to put kids with heel pain in orthotics, until I read this research which confirms that a simple heel wedge is more effective than orthotics for Sever’s disease. Cheaper and easier.
I get them to do an isometric Achilles strengthening program which also helps with pain control.
But ultimately recovery comes down to load management.
Load management means reducing the excessive loads. So this could be:
And aid recovery with:
HAVE YOU HAD A CHILD WITH SEVER’S DISEASE?