Yep, my big soccer girl started complaining of heel pain on Saturday after the first game of a tournament. This is something that we’ve seen many of the girls on the team experience with varying degrees. She iced it during lunch, but walking around the mall to kill time between games (we had a pretty crazy schedule…more about that later) in flip flops probably wasn’t the best idea. It wasn’t her day to begin with as she had been fighting a cold, but this just made everything worse. At her next game it was easy to see that she wasn’t running correctly and not on her game. The poor kid cried off and on all the way home…not just from the pain, but from the knowledge that she didn’t do her best…and didn’t get a lot of play time in the very important second game.
After icing and adding gel inserts to her cleats, the next morning’s game (8am with a 7am report time an hour away from home…eeek) went much more smoothly. They played a team that clearly shouldn’t have been in their bracket, so she got a big confidence boost by starting, playing most of the game and scoring. Her pain seemed manageable, but that might have been due to the prospect of a play date with a friend.
Yesterday I finally had some time to google around for more information and found some great articles about Severs Disease, a very common condition for soccer girls her age. From www.heelpaininfo.net:
Heel pain in children is commonly known as Sever’s disease. This condition is also referred to as calcaneal apophysitis. It mainly occurs in physically active girls aged between 8 to 10 years and in boys between the age of 10 to 12 years. Generally characterized by a sharp pain at the back of the heel, Sever’s disease also causes a mild limping or swelling that disrupts daily movement; the pain is usually more intense after running and sports. Sometimes referred to as growing pain, this condition arises when children go through growth spurts.
The most helpful source I found is on a blog I often read and enjoy, On the Pitch. I highly recommend reading the article “Heel Pain in Young Athletes” for great advice and references, but here’s a summary of the basic treatment recommendations:
- RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Heels should be iced 20 minutes a day, 1-3 times a day, even on days they don’t hurt, to help control the inflammation.
- Reduce or stop activity if necessary due to the pain. It’s unlikely for this to cause any permanent damage, so if the pain is manageable, it’s ok to continue activity.
- Stretch the calf muscles daily
- Heel gel pads
- Wear cleats just for practices and games. DON’T wear cleats to the car, walking across the parking lot/sidewalks.
- Don’t go barefoot or wear flip flops. (Not sure how this is going to work with summer almost here…they don’t wear anything but cleats and flip flops during the summer!)
- Ask your doctor about taking Advil to reduce the inflammation and pain.
Hopefully her bout with this condition is short lived and over quickly. I think the team trip to the beach on Memorial Day did more than any ice or advil to make her feel better.
Update 6/18- We did the icing and stretching for several weeks as well as massaged her calf muscles and used the heel inserts. The pain moved from one heel to another, but now has almost completely disappeared. Phew!