Did you know that young children are at greater risk of injuries than adults? I have been working for a specialized children’s shoe store for the last ten years, where we specialize in children with foot and leg problems. We often receive referrals from physical therapists, podiatrists, and pediatricians when a child needs to be fitted for an orthotic and a supportive pair of shoes.
If your child has been experiencing heel pain, then it’s very likely that your child has Sever’s disease. While the name might sound a little scary, Sever’s disease is more common than you think in growing children, especially those who are involved in physical activity.
Did you know that Sever’s disease is one of the most common causes of heel pain in kids?
Sever’s disease is an inflammatory condition of the growth plate in the heel bone. This condition occurs when children don’t wear supportive shoes and their feet can’t handle the impact that their feet take every time they come in contact with the ground.
In recent years, physical therapists have noticed a significant increase in overuse injuries among children. Even though there are so many benefits when our kids are involved in physical activity, doing too much or wearing the wrong type of shoes might lead to injury.
There are two key features that the shoes must provide in order to prevent or treat Sever’s disease:
- The shoes must come with a substantial sole to minimize the impact that your kids’ feet take every time they hit the ground. Avoid shoes with flimsy and unsupportive soles. Here is an example of a kids’ shoe with a supportive sole:
- The shoes must also come with a firm heel counter to protect your kids’ ankles every time they come in contact with the ground. This is one of the most important features, since the heel counter of the shoes it’s the one that provides ankle support. Take a look at the picture below to learn where the heel counter of the shoe is:
When you look for shoes for your child, you must always make sure that they come with a substantial sole and a firm heel counter. For example, let me show you the difference between a shoe that has a firm heel counter and one that has a soft heel counter.
The first picture shows a shoe with a firm heel counter. When I am pressing in that particular area of the shoes it feels firm:
This second picture shows a shoe with a soft heel counter. Do you notice how the shoe bends as I am pressing on the heel counter?
It is extremely important to provide your kids with the correct pair of shoes if you want to keep their feet and legs healthy, especially if they are involved in a sports or high impact activites.
The good news is that I know which are the best shoes that provide good ankle support, and they will minimize the impact that your kids’ feet take every time they come in contact with the ground.
By the end of the article I will provide you with a selection of the best shoes for kids with Sever’s Disease.
Why is my Child Having Heel Pain? – Learn the Causes!
The two most common overuse injuries involve the knee and the foot, and if those two parts of the body are not protected by the correct pair of shoes, you will end up creating all sorts of foot and leg problems for your child!
Please be aware that the conditions below increase your child’s risk of developing Sever’s disease:
- Having pronated feet.
- Having a flat or a high arch.
- Having short leg syndrome. I wrote a post where I describe how to take care of this issue called:
- Being overweight
Keep a close eye on the way your child walks and runs and ask them how their feet feel after running around.
Poor-fitting shoes contribute to the condition because they don’t provide enough support or padding for your kids’ feet. If your child is suffering from heel pain, the first thing you must do is to have them rest the foot until the pain starts to decrease or disappear altogether .
Sometimes all your child needs are shoes that provide extra support in the heel area to take care of the problem.
If your child is already wearing a pair of supportive shoes and the pain persists, then you should try a pair of heel cups for extra cushioning and padding (I will expand on which are the best heel cups for kids shortly).
Pain in your Kids Legs and Feet – When Should you Worry?
You should be concerned as soon as your child starts complaining about foot and leg pain! Let me emphasize that foot and leg pain in children is never normal, and you must take action if you want to avoid bigger problems int the future.
Parents please be aware of the most common signs that your child may not be wearing the correct pair of shoes:
- Pain in your kids’ feet or legs.
- Swelling in your kids’ feet.
- Changes in in his or her technique (if your child is involved in particular sport)
- Decreased interest in practice (if your child is involved in a particular sport).
Treatment for Sever’s Disease – Protect your Kids’ Feet!
Remember that the first step to combat Sever’s disease or heel pain is to rest your kids’ feet (this is the primary treatment).
Below you can find a list of other successful and proven methods of attacking the condition:
- Wearing shoes with arch support and a FIRM heel counter.
- Wearing heel cups that absorb the impact that your kids’ feet and legs receive every time they hit the ground. This will help relieve the stress on your kids’ heels.
- Make sure your child is stretching frequently, since this will also reduce the stress on the heel.
Before I show you a selection of the best shoes for heel pain, I want to make sure that you are providing your child with the correct shoe size. I always recommend parents to take their kids to be properly fitted for shoes at their local kids’ shoe store, but if you don’t have one in your area then START by reading an article I wrote where I describe the simplest, yet most effective way to make sure that you provide your child with the correct shoe size:
Below you can find a selection of the best everyday walking/running shoes for a child who is experiencing heel pain (these shoes are available in different widths such as medium, wide, and extra wide).
The shoes below will fit a child that has narrow, medium, or wide feet (choose the width accordingly).
This first selection of shoes fit “short”, which means that you need to go a whole size longer of the size that your child measures in the standard foot measuring scale (Brannock device) in order to allow for growing room.
The shoes below will fit a child with medium, wide, or extra wide feet.
This selection of shoes fit “true to size”, which means that you need to go a half a size longer of the size that your child measures in the shoe measuring scale in order to allow for growing room.
Sport Shoes for Kids with Sever’s Disease – Fit them Right!
The consequences of playing a sport in the wrong shoe size or in the wrong type of shoes can lead to injuries that impair growth and lead to long-term health problems for our kids.
Is your child involved in any of the sports mentioned below? There are sport specific shoes that come in wide widths and provide more support than others.
- Soccer: Extra Wide Soccer Cleats – The Only Soccer Shoe Style Available for Kids with Wide or Extra Wide Feet!
- Basketball: Wide Basketball Shoes for Kids – The Best Style for your Child with Wide or Extra Wide Feet!
If your child is not wearing a sport specific shoe for any of the sports mentioned above, you are putting them at risk of injury (some parents don’t buy their kids a sport specific shoe because they say their feet are too wide for the shoes – which is a BIG MISTAKE because cleats do come in wide and extra wide widths!)
I want you to remember one thing: It doesn’t matter how narrow or wide your kids’ feet are, there is always at least one particular shoe style out there that will fit the shape of your kids’ feet, and I will HELP YOU find it!
Heel Cups for Kids – When the Shoes are Not the Solution!
If you have tried a good supportive shoe for your child and the pain still persists, it might be time to provide your child with other alternatives.
A heel cup fits inside the shoe and will reduce the impact and stress that your kids’ feet receive every time they impact the ground.
I have fitted heel cups before at the shoe store that I work for, and they work wonders! Some of the benefits of providing your child with a heel cup are:
- It provides shock absorption.
- It protects the heel.
- It prevents foot fatigue.
If your child is involved in a high impact sport such as soccer, basketball, or baseball, hell cups are a must. They will significantly reduce your kids’ heel pain and in most cases make completely eliminate it.
The type of heel cup that I have fitted before is called Tuli’s Heel Cup. This is the heel cup that I am the most comfortable recommending since I have seen all the benefits that it provides.
These heel cup will cushion the area of your kids’ heels where they are feeling the pain and protect it.
Below you can find the most recommended Tuli’s Heel Cup for kids who are experiencing heel pain:
Take a look at the customer reviews on this product and notice how most parents have found it helpful even for their own feet, so if you have been experiencing heel pain yourself, you might want to give this heel cup a try!
Now that you know how to attack this condition, it’s time to provide your kids’feet and legs with some relief. NEVER underestimate the importance of well fitting shoes.
Please avoid taking your children to be fitted for shoes at large retailers like Payless, Stride Rite, or Nordstrom because they will end up walking out wearing the wrong shoe style and the wrong shoe size.
Do you happen to be experiencing heel pain yourself? I actually wrote an article where I describe the best shoes for women with heel pain and you can find it here:
Remember that making sure that your child is wearing the correct type of shoes is the FIRST STEP in attacking the condition.
Once the pain has fully disappeared, your child can return to perform their regular activities, BUT they need to keep wearing the correct type of SHOES!
Do you have a child who is experiencing heel pain? Has your child stopped doing a particular activity because of the pain? Have you found a particular shoe style that has worked well for his/her feet? Please share your finds and thoughts below so we can all benefit from them!