Children racing each other

Heel Pain in Children – Sever’s Apophysitis

Heel pain can be crippling for a young athlete.

But here’s great news – we can reduce the pain and often get the child pain-free altogether.

We have helped hundreds of children get past their heel pain and get back into the healthy lifestyle they love – it’s what we do!

Using the experience of our three podiatrists in working with young athletes, we take the time to carefully diagnose the condition, and work out the best way to getting children pain-free.

I can genuinely say that nothing gives us more satisfaction than helping a child with a sore heel back on the playing field/court.

If you’d like to know more about children’s heel pain please continue reading this article.

If you’d like to book your child in for an appointment, please click here.

Sever's Calcaneal Apophysitis

Calcaneal apophysitis (commonly known as Sever’s disease) is a condition that affects the growth plate (apophysis) in your child’s calcaneus (heel).

It can be a very painful and debilitating condition as it will regularly prevent children from participating in their favourite activities: whether that be football, netball, basketball, dancing, or any other sports or physical activity.

As scary as the name may sound, it is not a disease, but an overuse condition.

Important Note: If the child is unable to put their foot on the floor at all, or they are woken during the night with the pain, please see a doctor immediately.

A diagram of the anatomy of Severs heel pain in children

Common in 8 to 14 Year Olds

Calcaneal apophysitis is most common between the ages 8 to 14 and is more common in boys than girls.

Although every child goes through the stage of having an open growth plate in their heel, not every child will develop pain.

Due to its location on the very back of the heel, and with a strong (and often tight) Achilles tendon attaching to it, this growth plate is susceptible to irritation and inflammation.

If this occurs, your child may complain of heel pain, that can worsen with physical activities and can result in them limping.

Children More Likely to Develop Sever’s Will Have:

Tight calf muscles and achilles tendon

Over-pronated feet

High arch feet

Play explosive sports such as soccer, football, gymnastics and ballet where the footwear is often very flat and activities with high impact

Hard playing surfaces, lots of barefoot running

Sudden increase in activity (start of sport season)

Poor footwear (lack of cushioning and support)

Treatment for Sever's

Some of the treatment methods effective in reducing pain from Sever’s are:

Inserting heel raises into shoes to reduce the tension of the Achilles tendon

Calf stretches – these need to be done very carefully as they can increase pain in the acute stage.

Ice applied for 15 minutes after the activity which flares the pain.


Custom foot orthotics are helpful when there is a biomechanical component such as low arched foot type.

Relative rest – reducing activities which cause the pain.

Strapping to splint the foot and ankle and reduce stress on the area.

A red orthotic with a colourful top cover

Get Your Child Pain Free

Your podiatrist is best equipped to diagnose calcaneal apophysitis and work out the best treatment plan for you or your child. 

With correct treatment someone with Sever’s will be getting back to their favourite activity often within a few weeks.

Children racing each other

If you have a child who needs help with their heel pain, call 3351 8878 and let one of our experienced podiatrists get them back to being pain free.

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