Sever's disease

Sever’s Disease Stretches : 3 Easy To Do Stretches For Kids

What is Sever’s disease?

Sever’s disease is a very common condition that is marked by heel pain in growing children. The Achilles tendon causes pain by pulling on the heel bone’s growth plate.

Repeated stress on the growth plate ends up causing pain and inflammation at the back of the heel. Growth plates are pieces of cartilage located between the bones of children and teens.

As we get older, the growth plates will harden into solid bone.

Also known as calcaneal apophysitis, Sever’s disease is not a disease, it’s actually an injury.

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Sever's disease is common in active children

Who gets Sever’s disease?

Sever’s disease commonly occurs in children and adolescents aged eight to fourteen most frequently. Boys are somewhat more likely to get the condition than girls.

Children and teens who have an increased risk of getting Sever’s disease include those who:

  • Frequently are running and jumping, especially on hard surfaces. This puts repetitive stress on the Achilles tendon attached to the heel bone.

  • Participate in high-impact sports, such as gymnastics, soccer, and basketball.

  • Are struggling with being overweight, as this will put more pressure on the heel’s growth plate.

  • A child in a growth spurt, where muscles, bones and tendons grow at different rates

  • A child who’s shoes are worn out or don’t support their feet. Or aren’t appropriate for their activities

Sever's disease stretches

Can Sever’s disease be prevented or avoided?

Even though it may not be possible to prevent Sever’s disease, you can reduce the chances of your child developing it by:

  • Vary kid’s activities: If your child gets a lot of exercise through high-impact sports that involve running or jumping, add some lower-impact activities into his or her daily routine. Swimming and cycling will reduce stress on the heel bone, all the while keeping your youngster active.

  • Rest: If your child experiences pain or swelling, it’s time to take a break from their current activity. By allowing their bodies adequate time to rest and heal, they significantly lower the chance of developing Sever’s disease.

  • Maintain a weight that’s healthy for them: Children who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of developing Sever’s disease. To help prevent this condition, encourage your child to eat healthy foods and stay physically active.

  • Choose the right shoes: Invest in high-quality shoes for your child’s feet that are specific to their sport or activity. Good shoes will provide arch supports, and help absorb shocks. Cleats can worsen symptoms by putting more pressure on the heel.

  • Stay flexible: daily stretching and strengthening exercises for muscles and tendons may lower the risk of developing Sever’s disease.

How is Sever’s disease diagnosed?

Sever’s disease is typically diagnosed based on a child’s symptoms and medical history.

A physical examination of the child’s foot will be performed by your family doctor.

X-rays are usually not necessary to diagnose Sever’s disease but may be requested to rule out any underlying conditions.

Common symptoms of Sever’s disease

You may start to notice some of these symptoms at the beginning of a new sports season.

  • Heel pain in one or both heels that gets worse during high-impact physical activity.

  • Swelling, tenderness, or redness on the child’s heels.

  • Limping or walking on toes to avoid putting pressure on the heels.

Sever's disease

How long does Sever’s disease usually last?

Recovery time will vary from kid to kid with Sever’s disease. Although with treatment and rest, Sever’s disease usually gets better within a few weeks to a few months.

Many children will be able to return to all of the sports and activities they participated in before the onset of Sever’s.

Sever’s disease treatment

The primary treatment for Sever’s disease is rest, as the focus is to reduce the heel pain and swelling felt by the child.

Taking time off is necessary from the intense activities that caused the child’s heel pain for usually 2-4 weeks depending on your doctor’s recommendations.

The doctor may also recommend the following for treating Sever’s disease:

  • Put ice or cold packs wrapped in a towel on the heel for 15 minutes at a time, 3 times a day.

  • Special shoe inserts known as heel cups or heel pads can assist in reducing the tension put on your heels and ankles.

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve) can help relieve pain and swelling during a flare up.

  • Wear supportive shoes that protect the foot and provide arch support. Your child should not walk around in bare feet.

  • Exercises can assist to stretch the calf muscles and build up the leg muscles after the pain has subsided. Physical therapy may be helpful here.

  • Use an elastic wrap or compression stocking to help with pain and swelling.

  • Wear a walking boot that limits the movement of the ankle/heel if pain persists.

Sever's disease stretches

Heel pain from Sever’s disease

Is stretching good for Sever’s disease?

Yes! Stretching the calf muscles and tendons will help to reduce the tension on the heel and reduce injury, especially during your child’s growth spurts. Stretching will also strengthen the neighboring muscles and boost flexibility to cope with Sever’s disease.

Stretching exercises should be done every day, and can be done by the child themselves or with the help of a parent. In severe cases a physical therapist may be required to assist.

What stretches should your child do?

Heel cord stretch:

Have your child stand on the edge of a step with their heel hanging off.

Keeping their knees straight, and holding onto the railing or wall have them lower their heels down below the step and then raise back up to the starting position.

They should feel a stretch in their calf muscle.

Seated calf stretch:

Sever's disease- seated calf stretch

Have your child sit with their legs straight out in front of them and their feet pointing straight up to the ceiling.

With a towel wrapped around their foot, or using their hands have them pull their toes back towards their shin until they feel a stretch in the calf muscles.

Standing calf stretch:

Have your child stand facing a wall with their hands against the wall at about eye level.

Place one leg behind the back of the heel.

Keeping the back leg straight, and the front leg bent at the knee, have them lean into the wall until they feel a stretch in the calf muscle of the back leg.

For all three stretches, have your child hold each stretch for 30-45 seconds and repeat 3 times on each leg.

Make sure that your child is not bouncing during the stretches.

Can you still play sports with Sever’s disease?

If the pain and swelling of Sever’s disease are present, it is not recommended to play sports at that time.

However, if your child does not have a large amount of pain and is not limping participation in sports may be safe to continue. With your family physician’s approval.

What parents need to know

This is a very common condition that occurs in young active children. Most of the time it can be managed with conservative treatments at home. Although you should seek medical attention if your child complains of heel pain that persists for more than two weeks, or if they have severe pain.

Symptoms of Sever’s disease usually go away on their own with rest and home treatments, but if the pain is severe, your child’s doctor may recommend other treatments.

Is massage good for Sever’s disease?

Sever's disease stretches and massage

Yes! Massage can help to relieve the pain and tension in the calf muscles. Therefore assisting in reducing then tension in the tight achilles tendon.

It is best to have a professional masseuse do this, but if you are comfortable doing it yourself, here are some tips:

Using your thumbs, massage along the muscle in the direction of the heart starting at the ankle and working your way up the calf.

Apply firm pressure and use a circular motion.

Do this for 10-15 minutes per day.

Final thoughts

Sever’s disease is a very common condition that can be treated conservatively at home in most cases. Although if the pain persists or is severe, seek medical attention right away.

Just keep in mind that this is only a phase for your child and they’ll outgrow it eventually, so focus on treating the symptoms and giving them a chance to recover before getting back into their favorite sports or activities.

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