Heel Pain: Don't let Sever's stop you playing sport
It's now officially winter sports season, with every code competing last weekend, and with it there's been a spike of kids complaining of sore heels. As well as a lot of kids complaining of sore heels, there's almost as many accurate sideline diagnoses of Sever's disease, the reason being that it's relatively common.
The literature suggests that up to 15% of active 10-12 year old will experience one or two sore heels during the sporting season, more commonly at the beginning of the season, and in boys more than girls. This age range isn't absolute and can effect boys between 7 and 15 years and girls between 9 and 13 years.
Sever's disease is a term that describes inflammation of the growth plate in the calcaneus (heel), which is a cartilage plate attaching at the top to the Achilles tendon. This growth plate becomes relatively more irritable during growth spurts and when running load has dramatically increased (like the beginning of winter sports season).
The good news however is that it's not all bad news, and that Sever's is not something kids just have to grow out of (which they eventually do when they stop growing). There are a number of known risk factors for Sever's disease; tight calves, weak calves and biomechanics that increase the torsional (twisting) forces through the heel.
A thorough assessment can help determine your child's modifiable risk factors, develop an exercise program specific to their needs and fit custom-moulded orthotics if needed.