How to Treat Heel Pain In Athletes- In order to find remedies for relief in heel discomfort in kids, it’s important to understand the causes! Plantar Fasciitis and Sever’s Disease are common ailments in children, especially athletes. Here is a list of 10 ways to ease heel pain, so your kiddo can get back to doing what they love, pain-free!
Last year during baseball season my son complained of occasional heel pain. Most of the time he played through it, other times we had to sit him out. I did some research and learned that heel distress is a common condition for most athletes, of any age. During the growing years many kids can acquire Sever’s Disease, an inflammation of the heel due to repetitive stress. It’s usually outgrown, or it ends when activities do. Though most children will agree, while they are dealing it, it just plain sucks! For adults and some children Plantar Fasciitis (inflammation to the plantar fascia ligament) is to blame. We didn’t get an official diagnosis for my son, as it was a seldom occurrence, but I know that any type of foot trouble is uncomfortable, and for many kids, can cause quite the dilemma as their activities increase.
For my boy, the pain would show up on and off during football season too, and I heard from some other parents that their kids had experienced the same thing. As parents do, we discussed on what remedies we tried to get our kids some relief, without having to sit them out for extended periods.
You may have kids that are going through the same thing, so I’ve compiled the list for you below. Keep in mind, none of the parents I spoke to are medical doctors, nor am I, so please check with your child’s doctor to make sure these treatments can help your kiddo!
10 Ways to Ease Heel Pain in Young Athletes
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Heel Cups provide extra cushioning in the heel reducing foot fatigue. They keep the heels properly aligned when walking, possibly preventing further issues.
Proper cleats are imperative to avoid irritation or injury. The right footwear provides proper cushioning in the right areas. Many are elevated slightly in the heel to offer more support.
Stretching: Tight muscles of the calves and feet are the biggest culprit in heel pain, therefore stretching offers relief of the tension on the ligament and can eventually lessen the discomfort.
Some stretches to try:
Icing reduces the inflammation, swelling, and pain from sore heels. Ice for 10-20 minutes, but not more than that. Remember don’t apply the ice directly to the heel, use a buffer like a thin towel. Frozen vegetables, ice cubes and ice packs from the store, are all good options. These Rapid Relief Premium Cold Therapy Slippers have some great reviews!
Insoles– so many sports parents swear by insoles for their kid’s heel tenderness! Over-the-counter insoles can be highly effective in lessening the hurt, in fact this is typically the first go-to recommendation from Podiatrists according to the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society. Along with some of the other suggestions in this post, insoles are a great option to the treatment of achy heels, and arch discomfort too!
Diet Check– is your child getting enough of the right vitamins and minerals? Our athletes work really hard. They push their bodies beyond their limits sometimes, which of course can contribute to discomfort, pain, and injuries. Plenty of water will keep their bodies hydrated, which is important to promote healing. Especially necessary as they sweat, 8 cups of water a day is a great rule of thumb. Getting enough vitamins and minerals daily is crucial! If you aren’t 100% sure that they are getting everything they need to be healthy through foods, then be sure they are taking a daily vitamin. Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, and Vitamin C are all important elements the body needs to prevent aches. Have your athlete eat plenty of fruits like citrus and bananas, and of course vegetables, whenever possible!
Proper Footwear – Every mama knows the wrong shoes can ruin your entire day (ouch high heels)! Likewise athletes can attest to the notion that the wrong shoes can really make their game or practice really uncomfortable and downright painful. Did you know that even though you may feel o.k with a certain pair of shoes for a while, they may not be the best for your specific feet, and may eventually cause heel or foot discomfort? All feet are not created equal, so definitely do your research, and as usual trial and error is likely best. Check out this great list I found on the web for the Best Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis.
Ibuprofen- The truth is, for various reasons, I don’t necessarily like to give my kids medicine and I avoid it whenever possible. That said, when my son complained about his heels during an all day baseball tournament last season, I did give him children’s Ibuprofen. He sat the rest of the game out, but was ready to warm up for the next game and played just fine. I had a choice, having him sit out the rest of the tourney in pain upon standing, or give him something that will enable him to get out there and be able to give it his all. The latter option won, and I was comfortable with it. For me, it is an infrequent remedy for situations such as this, when nothing else can offer nearly instant relief, or other times such as when he has a high fever, etc. As with any NSAID’s, (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug), it is intended to relieve swelling, inflammation, and ultimately hurt. Some will take Ibuprofen about 30 minutes before activity, some will take it after. If you decide to provide this option for your child, as with any over the counter medication, read all labels, give recommended doses, and if necessary ask your child’s doctor before administering.
Essential Oils– Anyone who knows me knows I’m an EO junkie! That’s ‘essential oils’, and they are amazing! Once I started to learn about them and tried a few out, I was addicted, right away! I wrote all about it on my Facebook group, and wasn’t surprised to hear how many other sports moms agreed (join the group here). It all started with a minor tightness in my back. My friend recommended DoTerra Deep Blue Rub, and Deep Blue Oil and I gave it a shot. I put it on before bed and I woke up pain-free and was comfortable all day. I was intrigued! When my son fractured his patella sleeve in football last season, the injury caused him to develop a ganglion cyst (harmless) under the knee cap. So I did a little oily research (ha) and learned that Oregano Oil worked well for cysts. Long story short, the cyst was visibly reduced within just a few days, that did it for me, I was hooked! Like I do for my own discomfort, when my sons complain about hurting heels from sports, I rub DoTerra Deep Blue Rub and Oil on them for lasting relief. For the record, I do not sell oils, I am just a mom that has first hand experience with the stuff! It works for many, perhaps not all, but for me it was certainly worth giving them a go.
If heel pain persists after trying these methods out, by all means mamas, take your athlete to the Podiatrist or their Pediatrician.
Does your child experience pain in his or her heels during sports? What approach has worked for your family?
Barbara is the mom behind the blog. She began writing in 2012 as the creator of Hello Life, a craft & lifestyle blog. As life evolved, and her kids became more involved in sports, she aimed to create a site that would resonate with moms like her, and in 2017 Modern Sports Mom was born. Like many of today’s mamas, she loves being creative, cooking, and fashion, and when there are a few minutes to spare, a good book. A baseball and football mom, she is fueled by her strong faith, dedication to her family, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee! Barbara lives in California with her husband, kids, dog, and cat.