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Myotherapy helping a Geelong dancer manage her Severs

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Severs Disease

Recently we had a young girl that came in with Severs Disease. Complaining of heel pain, mostly after exercise. Mainly feeling it on the left heel but not uncommon to feel it in both at one time. She is a very active person with school sports as well as dance 2-3 times/wk and an upcoming performance.

Her work load was high but there was no chance of complete rest if she was to perform in her upcoming show. It was a situation where we were going to have to manage the symptoms to get her through the show. Usually a time of rest would be recommended but this wasn’t possible with her rehearsals and impending opening night.

It came down to treatment and self management tools in between sessions to get her through. Within each Myotherapy appointment massage was used to loosen off the calf, tibialis posterior, hamstring and glutes. Then some self massage, stretches and strengthening exercises were prescribed for at home management. She ended up getting through multiple shows using ice on the affected area, post performance.

One of the key things to take out of the situation is for children to speak up when something doesn’t feel right with their body. Prevention is always better than rehabilitation. It is great that children can be so in tune with their bodies at such a young age. Rather than saying “she’ll be right”, seek professional help to diagnose and treat before it turns into something that is hard to manage.

We know from a survey done by Ausdance that 52% of professional Australian dancers with chronic injuries are suffering from them by the time they reach 18 years of age! This figure jumps to 75% by age 25!! Indicating that we must listen to our kids to prevent an acute injury turning into a chronic one. Prevention is better than rehab!

A little more on Severs…..

It is a cause of heel pain in adolescent children (peak incidences are: Girls: 8 to 10 years old, Boys: 10 to 12 years old) where the achilles tendon attaches to the growth plate on the heel. During a growth phase bones can grow faster than muscle is able to adjust and causes strain at the unhardened growth plate. Exercise often aggravates symptoms.

Usually a modified exercise load is implemented to manage symptoms then strengthening added to help the gastrocnemius and soleus cope. Stretching and massage helps to ease symptoms and/or a heel lift in the bottom of the the affected sides day to day shoe can help as well.

Symptoms can last up to 2yrs but usually settle in 6-12 months. Similar to Osgood Schlatters, nothing can speed up the hardening of the growth plate. You just need to let the body do its thing.

Consult a Health Professional for advice or if you have any concerns.