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The 3 Mistakes to Avoid when dealing with Heel Pain in Kids!!

Guys, last week I shared a great video with you guys, well I thought it was a great video, about how to help your son or daughter with their painful heels, and in particular the three interventions or steps that you can take.

Well now I’m going to share with you the three common mistakes we see with heel pain in kids, and how best to avoid it. So let’s get straight into it, okay, because as us all, we’re all busy people.

1. Stretching

Heel pain in kids it’s what we call a tractional issue. So where the Achilles attaches to the heel, what you get in kids, because their bone is nice and soft, is a pulling or traction which causes aggravation and pain.

It only makes sense that if you were to stretch the Achilles or stretch the calves on the back of the leg, you’ll aggravate or increase the traction at the back of the heel creating more pain.

So if you have a kid who is having painful heels, even if their calves are tight, whilst painful, please avoid stretching. If they’ve got tight calves massage them by all means rub them out, but don’t stretch them in that acute, early, painful phase. When the pain settles, by all means we need to get the legs back into it and we stretch, but if the heel is painful, stretching it is only going to aggravate the problem.

2. Assuming because they’re children that they’re going to grow out of it.

These are not growing pains and it is not, all of a sudden, magically going to disappear. The condition we’re talking about is called Sever’s Disease and it is what we term a self-limiting condition. That means, over time, once the growth plate and bone hardens the problem will disappear. But we know that kids go through puberty for anywhere between two to four years, and I’ve had some children who’ve had heel pain for as long as two years. We don’t want our kids having pain for two years, so don’t assume that they’re going to just grow out of it. If they are having a problem, it’s not growing pains and it’s something that needs to be addressed, and it needs to be seen to.

If you’ve implemented the strategies that we brought in last week, and you’ve not stretched them and you’re icing it down after activity, with all of these things, if it hasn’t settled in two, four, six weeks, don’t make the mistake of just assuming it’s going to go away. Please get help, get assistance, see somebody about it.

3. Keep pushing and keep doing activity.

This is a mistake. We are discussing what is an overuse injury. It’s what we term a load-based injury. If you take a child who’s got a painful heel, which has generally occurred because we’ve spiked the activity, e.g. gone from doing very little activity to all of the sudden training three, four times a week, and then continue to increase that activity or continue working that child at a really high intensity you’re only going to make the problem worse. You will likely make it quite recalcitrant and really hard to shake as a result. So don’t push the child anymore. If anything we should be looking to drop a session a week, cut load back a little bit until we get on top of the pain and manage it from there.

So the three mistakes to avoid, just to recap for today, is don’t stretch when painful. When the pain goes away by all means, but when it’s painful, do not stretch the calves, okay, that’s the first mistake we’re going to avoid.

The second one is it’s not growing pains. It’s going to magically disappear. It does need some form of intervention, whether it’s footwear, heel raises, taping, or professional care. You’re likely going to need one of those three interventions as well.

And the final one is don’t increase or spike their activity. Don’t feel that by doing more it’s necessarily going to get better. It is a load-based or load-created injury so let’s just cut back the activity a little bit and see how they go from there.

I hope you’ve learned something from today. I loved the interaction on the last blog so please share it, like it, comment on it. We had some great feedback on the video and some really good discussion around last week’s video, so please, I love the debate, I love the discussion.

Have a great weekend and hopefully I’ll catch you next week.

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