Heel pain in young soccer players – the signs & what they mean!

Heel pain in young soccer players – the signs & what they mean!

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We are absolutely delighted with the recent success of the Sole Motion Podiatry Cup. For those that haven’t heard, we held our first major sponsored event on May 6th – the Point Cook Soccer Club Tournament brought to you by Sole Motion Podiatry. It was a fantastic day had by all! We loved seeing the teams and their enthusiasm as they worked together, we got to chat to a lot of parents that were interested in finding out more about their kids’ feet and soccer injuries, and we had the privilege of handing out a lot of medals and trophies to smiling faces.

After chatting with many supportive parents, one thing we did notice was the number of parents whose kids had recently (or were currently) enduring a level of heel pain. As experts in kids feet and injuries, it wasn’t a great surprise for us to learn of the number of kids aged between 11-14 years that were experiencing this pain. Unfortunately, there is still a belief instilled by many well-meaning health practitioners that pains at this age are merely ‘growing pains’ and will resolve themselves in time. Luckily, we know better and are able to effectively treat these pains so your kids can get back to doing the things they love. There’s one particular cause of growth-related heel pain in kids that we’re going to talk about today, so you know the signs and symptoms to look out for: Sever’s condition.

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Sever’s Condition

Sever’s is a common and major cause of heel pain in kids. Young soccer players are particularly prone to experiencing it because it tends to affect active kids during growth spurts, so around 8-14 years old. Let us explain a few quick facts on Sever’s:

  • Sever’s is all about the growth plate at the back of the heel

Bones grow by new bone being added to growth plates (‘apophysis’) located in developing bones. The growth plates are not mature bone, they are softer, and more vulnerable to injury.

  • The achilles tendon irritates the growth plate

The achilles tendon inserts into the very back of the heel, near the growth plate. The repetitive pull and tension from the back of the heel can then irritate and damage the vulnerable growth plate.

  • Sever’s tends to affect active kids, like soccer players

The more you run and play, the more you engage your achilles tendon and the greater the force from the tendon to the heel and growth plate.

  • Sever’s only occurs while you’re growing

Because this is a growth plate injury, and growth plates turn into solid bone when you’ve reached maturity, Sever’s only affects growing kids. This is particularly relevant during growth spurts, which tend to happen between the ages of 8-14.

  • If you want to wait for the pain to resolve on its own, you could be waiting years

Some kids may suffer from Sever’s pain for merely days. Most will suffer at least a few months, or multiple seasons of their favourite sports. Some can suffer on and off for years. No one wants to see their kids in pain, hence why we treat a lot of kids with Sever’s.

  • Sever’s pain comes and goes

Because the pain is attributed to by the pull on and irritation of the growth plate, certain activities will bring on the pain, like running. Certain activities will also help to settle the pain, like resting. Unfortunately, you can’t solve the problem by resting and the pain will start again once you start moving and being active.

  • If you see your child clutching their heel, suspect Sever’s and know it’s treatable

If your child is active, growing, and experiencing heel pain, Sever’s should be on the suspect list. If it is, then remember that you can treat it. If tension on the growth plate is the cause, then working to relieve this tension and irritation can permanently treat and relieve Sever’s pain. Not all practitioners are familiar with Sever’s or specialise in kids feet, which is why you may have previously heard otherwise. Trust us and the hundreds of kids we’ve helped – it is definitely treatable.

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So, what should you do if you suspect that your child has Sever’s?

This one is pretty simple – you bring them in to see us! Or if you’re located outside of Melbourne, your podiatrist that specialises in kids feet. This is what we’ll do:

  • Conduct a thorough biomechanical assessment of your kids feet
  • Go through all of their regular activities, sports, and footwear
  • Confirm a diagnosis of Sever’s OR a different cause of heel pain
  • Form a treatment plan with the goal of getting your kids back to their happy and active selves as quickly, safely and effectively as possible
  • Discuss everything with you, including the things you can be doing at home to help their recovery
  • Implement the relevant treatment(s) and watch as they feel better week after week!

There’s nothing we love more than seeing happy and healthy kids be able to enjoy the sports they love without pain and discomfort. If you’d like more information on Sever’s or any other cause of pain in kids, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us on 1300-FX-FEET or info@solemotionpodiatry.com. Otherwise, we wish you, your family and your team an awesome soccer season!

– The Sole Motion Podiatry team

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