There is a range of factors that contribute to heel pain in children. Some common reasons why kids develop heel pain are but not limited to:
- Inappropriate footwear
- Growth spurt
- Flat feet
- Abnormal walking or ruining biomechanics
Let’s break down each of these reasons in more detail.
When It comes to shoes, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the most expensive pair of ASICS. Podiatrists like to use ASICS as an example of shoe due to the wider range of supportive shoes they have to offer, but that doesn’t mean ASICS is the only brand of shoe available.
A shoe with a firm heel counter, stiff at the toes (doesn’t bend in half) and firm through the midsole generally ticks the boxes of an “ideal” shoe. These components support the foot during each step which means the foot isn’t doing all the work and stressing out the soft tissue around the heel and ankle. This is why flexible/flat shoes aren’t recommended.
Typically, children between the ages of 10-14 tend to suffer from a condition called “Calcaneal Apophysitis” also commonly known as Severs disease. This is where there is inflammation at the growth plate in the heel, usually due to excessive tension from the Plantar Fascia and Achilles Tendon. This can be quite painful in young ones and needs to be managed correctly to help alleviate pain.
Flat feet/abnormal walking and running biomechanics:
A lowering of the arch places more stress on the Plantar Fascia (underneath the foot) and the Achilles tendon (behind the ankle). These structures connect to the heel bone. When the foot is “pronated” which means rolling in, the Plantar Fascia and Achilles Tendon are at full stretch which leads to irritation in the heel. In most cases an arch support is used to support the arch and reduce how much these structures need to stretch.
Management of heel pain generally includes:
- Wearing supportive footwear
- Arch support: such as an orthotic
- Stretching and strengthening the muscles around the foot and ankle
There are many other reasons as to why kids develop heel pain. If your child suffers from heel pain, please book an appointment with a Podiatrist for a thorough assessment of their feet.