Soccer-Related Foot Injuries!
Most towns and villages on Long Island have an active children's soccer program that ranges from traveling teams to indoor tournaments, If your children are actively involved in soccer, you may have heard them complain about foot or heel pain. In the past many of these aches and pains would be dismissed as "growing pains."- We know today than there is no such thing as "growing pains" - in actuality, these pains are more frequently "growth plate pains."
The growth plates are areas of cartilage within the bones of growing children that allow for bone growth. If a child exerts excessive pressure or pulling on the growth plates, injury will result. Most often these aches and pains are self limited and with resting will resolve without treatment. When these pains persist, the parents should pay attention and seek treatment.
The lower limbs and feet are particularly susceptible to injury. If the child is overweight or wearing inappropriate athletic shoes the incidence of injury is higher. In our experience most soccer cleats or shoes have no arch support or shock absorption whatsoever. The abnormal forces on the legs and feet are the number one cause on injury,
The most common complaint we see is the child from ages 9-12 with heel pain (calcaneal apohysitis). This pain is caused by injury to the growth plate as it at attempts to close - a normal occurrence by age 12-14.
Arch pain and shin pain are related to poor support of the foot and leg tendons and ligaments. Flat feet or poorly supportive shoes are the main culprits. Treatments for these in injuries usually consists of x-rays, rest, ice, and possibly custom molded heel cushions or arch supports called orthotics. The orthotics are custom fit to the child's foot by applying wet plaster. These molds are then sent to the laboratory with the custom prescription. Most children will need to wear the foot supports until at least age 15 and they are adjusted and refitted as the child outgrows them.