Heel injuries can impact youth athletes in just about any sport, and they can devastate their performance capabilities. However, it is possible to prevent these problems or at least keep them from getting worse. Here’s what you need to know about this concern.
Strengthening Heel Muscles
The best way to prevent heel injury is to strengthen the muscles around it and increase their flexibility. The following exercises will do just that:
- Stretching the heels by pressing against a wall with your shoulders
- Rotating heel in a circle several times every day to increase strength and flexibility
- Roll a small ball under the foot while sitting in a chair to stretch and strengthen
- Pull back lightly on the toes with your hand while pressing forward with the foot
These simple exercises will quickly and efficiently increase the strength and flexibility of the heel, creating more muscles and “give” during sports games. This helps keep the heel from being too heavily impacted by strain.
Treating Pain Just As It Begins
If youth athletes begin to feel a little pain in their heel, it’s important to sit them immediately to prevent further injury. Get them to ice and stretch the area (20 minutes a day for the former, for 30 seconds 10 times a day for the latter) and stay off their feet as much as possible.
Pain in the heel is often a warning sign that something more serious is wrong, so immediately treating even the smallest amount of pain can help keep it from developing into an injury.
Managing An Injury
If heel pain does develop an injury in a youth athlete, it’s possible to manage it before it becomes worse. Start by removing them from playing time to help avoid exacerbating the condition. You should get them to follow these steps to facilitate their healing:
- Wearing a brace or heel insert to support the injured heel
- Use medications that help reduce inflammation and pain symptoms
- Ice and heat treatments to speed healing process
- Light stretching diagnosed and monitored by a medical professional
By following these tips, you can minimize the risk of a serious heel injury and keep your youth athletes healthy. To learn more about how to prevent heel injuries in youth athletes, please contact Advanced Foot & Ankle Care Specialists today at (214) 366-4600. We can help teach you what you need to know about this problematic concern.