One of the toughest “playable” injuries that occurs commonly in youth soccer is Sever’s Disease. Sever’s (also known as calcaneal apophysitis) is a type of bone injury in which the growth plate in the lower back of the heel, where the Achilles tendon (the heel cord that attaches to the growth plate) attaches, becomes inflamed and causes pain. No surgery is needed, so players can either sit out sports (rest and recovery) or find a solution that helps alleviate the pain. Since the latter is the preferred route to take, and we get a lot of questions from parents about this topic, we figured it was worth doing a little research to see if we could find some suggested help and boot options.
Try A Gel Heel Cup
Rather than looking to completely change your footwear, the first step would be to take a look at some heel cups. These are created with dual density materials to help absorb shock on impact with the ground. Feedback on them is very mixed, with some parents finding them as a perfect solution to player heel pain, while others have found them unhelpful.
Here are some examples of Gel Heel Cups to check out from Amazon.
Ice, ice and more ice. After play, make sure to have ice ready to help reduce any swelling. My advice here is ice cups; simply fill a paper cup with water, leave it in the freezer, and once it is frozen peel back the cup so that the ice is open to massage the foot.
Stretching and Strengthening
Another key element here is strengthening the area around the ankle to help decrease strain on the Achilles. Heel lifts, in particular, are important and effective. BUT, it is vitally important to speak with a specialist when it come to stretching, in order to ensure you are doing them correctly.
There are a lot of quality boots out there, but the ones that are going to provide best relief are those that focus on comfort. Boots are broken down into different categories, the ones to avoid are the lightweight specific boots that focus specifically on the ideals of speed. A boot with a secure heel cup and cushioned insole are going to be what you are looking for, providing the most efficient solution. There are a lot more boots that I could tell you to avoid rather than recommend, but here is my list of top options to consider.
The addition of a TechFit collar on these boots provides a more secure fit around the ankle. adidas use a PUREAGILITY Heel Lining that helps to grip your foot for even better locked in fit. The “S” curve in the heel comes from adidas’ extremely popular running shoe, the Ultra Boost. The curve helps to relieve pressure on the Achilles tendon and helps to make the fit along your heel much more comfortable. They also come with an additional pair of comfort insole that have a nice cushioned feel, I’d definitely switch out the insoles they come with to get the best support.
April ’19 update – this boot is now referred to as the X19+ Purespeed.
One of the things I really enjoy about UA boots is the general comfort they provide. For example, inside the boots you will find a one piece inner lining, which arcs from sole to the boot wall without any stitching. The area around the ankle is also well padded, and right under the heel there is a small memory foam style layer of padding to help reduce impact. This is a boot I’m personally a big fan of.
April ’19 update – check out the UA Magnetico series, the upper is incredibly supple!
Both the first and third generation evoPOWER have garnered a reputation for being extremely comfortable and easy to wear. This version features a nicely supported insole that lips up a little higher around the heel than other traditional insoles, helping cradle your foot through play. The soleplate and stud configuration is also extremely important on these boots, with the conical studs providing improved stability and traction through play, reducing drag and unnecessary impact.
April ’19 update – A definite boot to check out is the FUTURE19 series, it has one of the best collars in the game that provides equal pressure around the ankle.
I like this one for numerous reasons. First, that dynamic mid-foot collar is designed to create an extension of the leg into foot, so there is an additional level of support provided. Nike has also cut the heel a little deeper than on previous editions of the boot, so your foot sits further down into the boot. And finally, to make sure you are not soaking in all the impact of being deeper in the boot, a perfectly cushioned insole is used. I’d chose the Superfly over other Nike releases here simply because the upper is a lot more snug and secure, insuring your foot won’t slip and slide through the forefoot.
An inclusion primarily because of the responsive “charged” insole – it provides excellent absorbed impact support underfoot! Another cool feature is the rounded heel cut, something you can see it a little more clearly in the image below. As you sink your foot into the boot, it gently stretches and molds effectively to your fit.
Very important to note here is that I have no personal experience with Severs. The suggestions and information pieced together here are all from research and insight from a good friend, the excellent Dr Jason Zemanovic.
In reality, the best advice will come from those that have experienced pain due to Severs and have tried to find a solution. As such, I (as well as everyone else reading this) would greatly appreciate any additional insight that anyone who has suffered from Severs can offer. If you have found boots that do/don’t work, let us know about it in the comment section below so that we can really narrow down the products that work best.