What is severs and how does it affect our youth athletes?
Clinically speaking, severs occurs when the growth plate of the heel is injured by excessive forces during early adolescence.
It is important to note that severs occurs in both active and sedentary youth so is not entirely related to training load.
We can help our athletes suffering from severs understand more by describing some of the activities which can exacerbate the symptoms, including:
– Repeated high impact loading, especially through the heel (jumping/landing, decelerating from a sprint)
– Decreased ankle range of motion
– Excessive need to move on their tip toes
So, how can you help a youth athlete with severs?
– Improve gait – walking, jogging and running
– Develop single leg proprioception and force absorption
– Reduce unnecessary load
– Improve flexibility through lower limb
Below are a selection of exercises we would use to improve locomotion, gait, force absorption and lower limb flexibility. All exercises are designed to help reduce the symptoms of Severs
STANDING TRIPOD – develop and strengthen intrinsic foot musculature to help with co-ordination and proprioception
HEEL TOE SKIPS – refine locomotion patterns, develop awareness in foot strike mechanics and incentivise soft landing
2-1 FORCE ABSORPTION – aid in development of force absorption through a single limb
BALANCE BOARD – single leg proprioception and balance. Improved awareness around body position
SOFT TISSUE MASSAGE – release of lower limb muscles that become tight during times of high severs symptoms
The most important take-away message with severs disease is that it does not need to be debilitating and remove athletes from sports. If it is correctly managed, athletes can continue with their training and competition on a daily basis.
To watch a demonstration of the above mentioned exercises, click HERE.