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Family Foot & Ankle

How to Prevent Sever’s Disease in Young Athletes

Not many things are as disheartening to a child as having to sit out games, and it can be tough on you as a parent as well—seasons are short, and unless your little one is going pro (which the odds are against) they may not have many more opportunities to play organized sports beyond their middle or high school years.

If you have an active child or young teen, especially one who is going through a growth spurt, he or she is right in the target demographic for Sever’s disease, the most common cause of troublesome heel pain in kids and adolescents. If you have an overeager young athlete grinding through soccer, cross-country, or any other sport this fall in an Ohio or Kentucky school, it’s a good idea to practice these prevention tips to avoid future pain, especially if they’ve had a bought with Sever’s disease in the past:

  • Make sure you have the right shoes. This means a supportive, well-fitting athletic sneaker or cleat designed for the proper sport, bought new (used shoes have already molded to someone else’s feet). You may also need to check the fit every couple of months, since kids’ feet grow fast.
  • Stretch regularly, especially to keep muscles and tendons strong, loose and flexible. The hamstrings, calves, and Achilles tendons should receive extra attention. Resistance band exercises that strengthen muscles at the front of the shin are also a good choice.
  • Avoid overdoing it. We know many kids have trouble slowing down, but too many days of high-impact activities like running and jumping (especially on hard surfaces) is usually what causes Sever’s disease—an overuse injury to the sensitive growth plate—in the first place. Take some rest days, and mix in some different kinds of physical activities that put less impact stress on the feet—a bike ride, for example.

If your little one does pick up a Sever’s disease injury, take them to see the experts at Family Foot and Ankle Center in Greater Cincinnati. Most cases resolve with just a little bit of gentle, conservative care in 2 weeks to 2 months; our podiatrists will help you with whatever tools, therapy, or training you need to help your child get there. You can request an appointment online, or give us a call toll free at 888-689-3317.

Dr. Cynthia Miller
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Dr. Cynthia Miller is a board certified podiatrist who has been established in the Cincinnati area since 2004.
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