The Younger Athlete in Football – Sever’s Disease

Severs DiseaseOver 50% of football players worldwide are below 18 years of age. The overall injury rate was shown to be between two and seven injuries per 1,000 hours of football. The incidence of injury increases with age, reflecting the increasing speed of the game and greater intensity of play.

The growing skeleton reacts to loading in a different way to the skeletally mature skeleton. Most injuries reported involve the lower extremity, with the ankle, knee and thigh most commonly affected. The focus of this blog today will be on a very common cause of foot pain in children and adolescents, Sever’s Disease.  

What is Sever’s Disease?

It is an overuse syndrome frequently seen in growing active children, affecting those between aged five and thirteen years of age. In simple terms, the heel bone grows faster than the leg muscles and tendons, which causes excessive stress on the growth plate. 

What are the symptoms?

  • Pain or tenderness in the back of the heel
  • Swelling and/or redness around the area
  • Difficultly walking or running
  • Discomfort first thing in the morning


It is a self-limiting condition but can often take anywhere between six and twelve months to settle. A large part of the management of Sever’s Disease is activity modification. This may include reducing the frequency of sessions per week to help deload the area. As a result of the tightness through the lower leg muscles, your Physiotherapist may prescribe specific stretching and strengthening exercises. Soft tissue massage techniques can also be used to help complement this. Other exercises may include specific torso and hip strengthening to distribute the load better throughout the kinetic chain.

More Information

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Aiveen Lavery MISCP

Aiveen Lavery, MISCP MCSP








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