Do you struggle with heel pain while playing your favourite sport? Do you often feel bruise-like pain in your heel with running or jumping? It could be that you have Sever’s disease.
What is Sever’s Disease?
Sever’s disease is a painful, inflammatory condition caused by inflammation or swelling of the growth plate in your heel. It is most seen in young athletes who participate in running or jumping sports, like football, basketball, gymnastics and tennis.
Sever’s disease is caused by repetitive strain or stress on the heel bone growth plate. This usually happens during a growth spurt when the heel bone grows faster than the muscles and tendons surrounding it. The Achilles tendon can be tight, pulling directly on the growth plate in the heel bone. Symptoms can worsen with continuous activity, not allowing the growth plate to heal.
Symptoms can include heel pain and swelling (in one or both heels), pain increased with running or jumping activities and tightness of the calf muscles. You may also feel that pain decreases with rest.
If you suffer from Sever’s disease you will present with pain and tenderness at the back of your heel, but no tenderness at the Achilles tendon or plantar fascia. You will also present with tightness of your calf muscles.
There are a few things that you can do to decrease your pain and discomfort in your heel.
Foam rolling works great to release tightness in your calf muscles. It’s important to work on your flexibility in your calves to decrease the tension on your heel and growth plate.
Another great tip is to use ice on the painful area post games. Remember to always have a layer of fabric between your skin and the ice. You can ice the painful area for 15 minutes after the game.
Taping your heel before a game can provide great relief and support for your heel. You can use rigid taping to support your heel and Achilles.
You can also decrease your discomfort post games and trainings by wearing a shoe with a heel to offload the strain on your tight Achilles tendon. It is also a good idea to focus on one high impact sport, rather than doing multiple high intensity sports. Focusing on low impact activities like swimming or cycling is also a great idea to decrease the strain on your heel.
When to see a Physiotherapist?
It is advised to see a Physiotherapist when your pain persists, even with self-management. A Physiotherapist can help you with pain management, relieving muscle tension and advice to return to sport.
by Elzanne Myburgh BSc Physiotherapy (Hons)