Sever’s disease in active children

How to care for your kid’s foot growth and development

Nonstop movement and activity combined with constant growth can put a lot of strain on children’s bodies. Their bones and joints are under substantial pressure, especially during periods of fast growth.
Aside from common growing pains, active children can also be affected by pain around the heel known as Sever’s disease.

What is Sever’s disease?

Also known as Calcaneal Apophysitis, Sever’s disease is an inflammation of the growth plate of the heel bone. It occurs when the bone is bruised or pulled on by the Achilles, and affects young children in an active phase of growth.

Who does it affect?

It most commonly occurs (but is not limited to) in kids ages 9 to 14, when children are going through growth spurts. Sever’s disease is more common in active children because of the added strain to their bodies from sports and a lot of movement.

“The calf muscle and Achilles tendon are responsible for distributing impact when we land on our heel, as well as for leveraging us forward. Therefore, children who participate in high levels of impact sport on hard surfaces are more prone to Sever’s”, Monique Ujdur from Big Foot Podiatry explains.

Sever's Disease in Children
Sever's Disease in Children

What are the signs?

Get familiar with the signs of Sever’s disease in your child, and always consult a professional for a proper diagnosis:

  • Swelling and redness of the heel
  • Limping or your child walking on the top of their toes
  • Pain when squeezing either side of the heel

“Often children cannot weight bear on their heels immediately after playing sports, and may limp initially after getting out of bed each morning,” Monique adds.

“Sports that are commonly associated with Sever’s injury are ones that attract hard surfaces like hockey, netball, and football, or high impact load like running.”

Protect your kids feet with supportive, strong footwear.

How to find the perfect fit

If a shoe doesn’t fit properly it will put strain and stress on the growth plate and bones, so it’s important your kid’s shoes are fitted well.
A correctly fitted pair of shoes is crucial in preventing or supporting the recovery of Sever’s disease, but looking out for some important features can play a key role in keeping pain at bay.

Make sure your child is wearing shoes to support their feet growth:

Strong heel counter

Your kids shoes should have a firm heel counter to properly hold their heels. This is a crucial feature to kids shoes that supports Sever’s disease, and also works to hold the ankle, too.

Firm support

Kids shoes need to be firm in the midsole of the shoe, to provide adequate arch support. This will stop their feet from rolling and causing any additional foot pain.


Good shoes to support kids with Sever’s disease should always include lots of strong cushioning under the heel. This provides shock absorbency and means their heels face less stress and strain.

Sever's Disease in Children

Sever’s disease treatment

It’s important to remember that with good management and active care, Sever’s disease can typically go away within a couple of months.

“Pain is often relieved with attention to calf massage, icing of the inflamed heel region, orthotics to distribute impact and wearing a cushioned, heel inclined shoe instead of bare feet.”

Make sure you’re putting your kids on the quickest road to recovery or preventing sore heels from ever developing, with the right footwear and treatment to supplement their recovery.

Sever’s disease treatment could also include:

  • Avoiding hard surfaces: Because hard surfaces increase the impact on your kid’s feet, they should be avoided while they’re still experiencing sore heels. Kids need as much shock absorbency as possible when recovering from Sever’s disease.

  • Stretching, strengthening, and good flexibility: To reduce the stress on your child’s heel, ensure they’re stretching regularly and strengthening their body. It’s especially important to be stretching calves and hamstrings on both legs, and is effective in reducing the pain from Sever’s disease. Make sure your child is stretching daily.

  • Heel cups and insoles: You can add heel cups and insoles to assist the support of your kid’s shoes. This can be useful for kids who’ve experienced sore heels for an increased amount of time, but they should always be wearing supportive shoes, too.
Sever's Disease in Children

Sever’s disease isn’t life-long pain

While it’s a painful problem for a lot of children, remember that it won’t be permanent. Once their growth plates have finished growing at around 15, your child won’t be at risk of developing Sever’s disease.

If your child has been diagnosed with Sever’s disease, they’ll need to take time off their sport. Always be quick to consult a healthcare professional as soon as any pain develops.

Your kids can return to activity as soon as they’re not caused any pain, but always make sure they’re supported by you with the footwear to properly protect their feet!

Looking for more tips of kids shoes and development? Check out our guide!