A very common condition that we receive a lot of questions about 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. It is without a doubt one of the toughest “playable” injuries that occurs in youth soccer players. 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 much preferred route to take, we have spent time over the past few years researching and updating a list of suggested help options as well the best current footwear options on the market. This comes from talking to medical professionals and receiving feedback from parents who have had players carefully navigate the troublesome condition.
One of the most important things to remember is that it’s a case of trial and error when it comes to finding the right strategy. Some will work, while others might prove not as adequate for your particular situation. But, ultimately the goal is to find as many solutions as possible to reduce the pain and stress young players experience from the disease.
Heel Cup or Shoe Insert
Rather than looking to completely change your footwear, the first step would be to take a look at some heel cups or new shoe inserts. We have received feedback in the past that suggests
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.
- Tuli’s So Soft Heavy Duty Gel Heel Cups
- Dr. Scholl’s HEEL CUSHIONS with Massaging Gel Advanced
- Plantar Fasciitis Heel Cup for Heel Pain
Leg Massager With Heat and Compression
This is a new one to the list and one that has become much more readily available the past 1-2 years. Playing with Sever’s can put a lot of stress on other parts of the leg, as most players will try to overcompensate. After play, using a leg massager will improve circulation, help alleviate muscle soreness and enhance recovery time. It is not something that will decrease overall recovery time from Sever’s, but it will provide relief in between games and ongoing management to keep flare-ups to a minimum.
I don’t have a preferred or recommended brand for this one, but there are a wide variety of options available through 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 tear back the edges of the cup so that ice is open to massage the foot.
Another option: Reusable Hot Foot & Cold Ice Pack Wrap
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.
#1 – Puma FUTURE Z
My absolute top choice for several reasons. First, the entire shape of the FUTURE Z is designed to mimic your foot, with the material providing excellent natural stretch to match your movements in play. This gives you the ability to move laterally and throw direct sprints with the boot gently cupping your entire foot. In other words, you are not locked in and feeling the pounding of the surface under your foot. The lacing system also comes up higher around the ankle, so you get more flexibility in how you secure the boot around your ankle and achilles. You also have the same knit material that runs around the ankle, so there is a more natural, fluid structure in the area. Adding a heal cup would probably create the best all around option for players with severs.
There are 2 versions of FUTURE Z – find them both at SOCCER.com.
#2 – adidas Copa SENSE.1
I’m a fan of the SENSE.1 for several reasons. First, they feature a memory foam padding around the achilles/heel that provides a cushioned level of support, keeping your foot comfortably locked in place. And second, the lacing is an open central style, allowing players to loosen or tighten as needed. This also ensures they are easier to slip into to.
Find the latest Copa SENSE.1 options at SOCCER.com.
#3 – Nike Phantom GT2 Academy Flyease
Using Nike Flyease technology, these are one of the most advanced boot options currently on the market. From experience wearing them, they are definitely not the most comfortable boot on the market, and they feel odd around the heel. BUT, that is exactly what might make them a top option for players with Sever’s. FlyEase technology allows the cleat’s heel to fold down so you can easily slip your foot in. To secure the fit, a wraparound strap puts tension on Flywire cables then fastens along the side.
There are several colorways available, all found at SOCCER.com.
#4 – Lotto Maestro 100 IV
What makes the Maestro 100 different from the market is that they feature a new, unique technology around the heel called ADAPTO. It is a knit element in the heel that provides comfortable support while relieving irritating pressures on the tendons around the heel. This simple upgrade might be exactly what some players need. We have seen pro players in the past cut out a triangle in the heel to relieve pressure, so this more researched and developed version are worth exploring.
Find latest pairs available at SOCCER.com.
#5 – ASICS
Finally, a brand that is very hard to find in the US right now but offers some really good options is ASICS. Being a leader in the running world transferred really well to the soccer footwear category and was where ASICS experienced relative success. What is available, and it isn’t much, can be found on Amazon’s website.
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