30 answers

Soccer Player's Feet Hurt

Hello! My 10-year old has been playing soccer for 5 years and is a competitive player. Whenever he plays his regular schedule (practices and games about 4-5 times per week), his feet hurt. Sometimes he doesn't even admit it, but he walks (and runs) as though they hurt. His feet are a tiny bit flat, but they don't hurt with normal activities. He uses Birkenstock orthotics in his regular shoes and tried them in his soccer shoes, but that didn't help. Does anybody have experience with this? Do more expensive shoes help? (It seems to me that no soccer shoes have cushioning or support, so it's hard for me to see a difference in spending more). I remember somebody telling me once that heel cups can help soccer players with foot pain. I just thought I'd see if anybody out there has had experience with this.

1 mom found this helpful

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Wow! I never expected to receive so much professional advice - doctors, chiropractors, trainers, professional soccer players. It was amazing! I guess we're going to try some of the suggesions we can do at home and also make an appointment with a podiatrist, just to be sure there's nothing else going on. Thanks so much to everyone who responded!

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Take him to a sports store that specializes in fitting shoes. Maybe even a running store, there is a good one in Palo Alto (Metro Sport) and see if they can recommend inserts for his shoes. There are several types. My daughter was complaining of pain in her feet and calves and they were very knowledgeable and fit her with proper shoes and recommended some inserts that really seemed to help. Good luck.

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Have you taken your son to a podiatrist? Quite a few of my friends wear orthodics in their cleats and have pain if they don't. Also so many games are played on turf nowadays and he should wear turf shoes on those surfaces(less likely to turn his ankle). I play soccer in a few leagues here in the bay area (2-4 matches a week). I was a runner in high school and college and dealt with plantar fasciatis and had to take off quite a bit of time to recover. He may also have a stress fracture in one of the bones. All these things need to be checked out by a doctor to assess.

I highly recommend you read the book " Revolution in the Bleachers". A ten yr old who has been playing competitive soccer for 5 yrs is way too much on his little body. I referee, have played premier soccer, coached by ODP. I have found that many of our kids that are pushed at too young an age grow tired of the stress and the sport by 16. It is very sad to see. I would recommend that you make sure he cross trains(does other sports not just soccer) it will keep him from getting hurt and having over use injuries.

If he is meant to be a super soccer star he will still be.
I am encouraging my kids to try many different activities even though mommy is a soccer NUT. If you haven't read the book I mentioned above run out and buy it. It is a must read to every parent who's kids are heavily into sports. It will give you alot to think about and may offer some balance.(this is coming from a player, coach, referee of the sport....i completely agree with many of the things in this book and have seen it in the parents, kids, coaches here in bay area over the last 16 yrs)

I hope your son is okay,

T. C
my son alternates between swim, soccer, golf, baseball(and not at the same time)

2 moms found this helpful

When my son was about 7 he developed really painful feet, mostly heel pain. It got worse with exercise, and especially bad after a jump rope fund raiser. He was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis by his regular doc. My son, like me, has very high arches, unlike your son, but I do think that either flat or high arches can lead to this...especially when a kid is going through a growth spurt. We had to place orthotics in all of his shoes and we had to by expensive athletic shoes for school. Liam does play sooccer, but not competively. Here are some things that worked for us:

Freeze a plastic water bottle and then have him roll his foot on it for about ten minutes every night. This reduces inflammation.

Google plantar fasciitis and massage. There are massage and stretching exercises that can help.

I know he is a comp player, but you might want to think about cutting back on practices. I found that if Liam was having a rough spell that a break from things like track and soccer really helped stop the inflammation. We did swimming instead, which is great because it is non-weight bearing. By the way, he is now 9 and very rarely experiences any pain as the growth spurts have slowed down for a bit.

Hope this helps.


1 mom found this helpful

My 7 yr old's daughter's feet have hurt for years now. We took her to a good podiatrist and he fit her for orthodics. Turned out her lower leg bones never developed (where the inner bone becomes longer to match the outer bone) and she really was in pain at the end of a day. We had trouble getting her to exercise and everything... The orthodics really have helped a great deal and may even help her body correct the delay in bone development. They are easy to use and just slip into any shoe. You need to wear them about 70% of the time for them to work well. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi R.,
I feel that getting your son's feet adjusted and worked on by a Chiropractor who specializes in muscle work (and not just spinal alignment) would benefit him the most. Especially since the orthotics seem to help him in regular shoes. Sometimes the orthotics are too rigid and thus don't work well in athletic shoes. I suggest a semi-rigid orthotic and also have his feet worked on! I, myself, work on many people's feet and customize orthotics for different reasons. It is amazing the results you get with it! Also, since he is playing a lot of soccer and will be going into his growth spurts soon, this should be addressed sooner than later.
If you have any other questions, feel free to e-mail me at my personal e-mail address: ____@____.com Good luck!

Take him to a sports store that specializes in fitting shoes. Maybe even a running store, there is a good one in Palo Alto (Metro Sport) and see if they can recommend inserts for his shoes. There are several types. My daughter was complaining of pain in her feet and calves and they were very knowledgeable and fit her with proper shoes and recommended some inserts that really seemed to help. Good luck.

Hi R.,
Orthotics need to be custom made (by having a plaster casting done or laser measurements taken, not by standing in a foam tray, btw, as some cruddy docs will do). Also, orthotics worn for sports are made from different material than ones made for everyday walking around. Wearing the wrong orthotic can cause more pain than wearing none at all. Orthotics also need to be eased into (a few hours the first day, building up to all day wear). If your son really needs orthotics, he should wear non-sports ones and sports ones as well. Yoga feet stretches are a great idea as well. Once the feet get messed up, the issues go to the ankles and then the knees and then the hips and then the back...you get the point. You might want to take him to an osteopath as well.

I have very high arches and have plantar fascitis (sp?) because of it. This is when the tendons in the feet get small tears in them, because of the strain placed on the foot when you have a very high or very low arch. It's kind of like having shin-splints, but in your feet.

I've been to an orthopedic surgeon about it, as well as a podiatrist, and the answer they gave me is - wear shoes with arch support at all times (even when you're walking around the house), and also... unfortunately you need to give your feet a rest for several weeks. So your son may need to lay off of soccer for a while to allow his feet to heal, and then ease back into it, but always have him wear arch support. (We all wear Crocs in our household as slippers/flip-flops - they provide great arch support when you're not wearing "real" shoes.)

Hi R.,
First off, I'm going to read the book the other mom recommended - it sounds interesting.

Really though, I'm writing about my husband. He played semi-pro for years in England. He does buy the nice "football boots" as he calls them. The ones he has now are made out of kangaroo leather and were purchased at a soccer store. I think they were in the 60-70 dollar range. He tried other shoes - they made his feet hurt or fell apart. He has flat feet too.

Good luck.

Hi R.,

My kids have the same foot pain and they are slightly flat footed. You need to take your child to a podiatrist and have his feet checked. If he needs inserts in his shoes then you need to get them from a doctor. I tried everything before going to the foot doctor and wasted alot of money on expensive shoes and different over the counter inserts for their shoes. My daughter had to use special inserts formed to her foot plus a cushion lift when she played sports exspecially soccer and when she played football or ran track. My daughter's pain stopped almost immediately and hasn't had problems since getting them. Make sure they take x-rays before giving you inserts. Children who are flat footed will usually start developing pain in lower back, hips, and calfs. Just some advice for you. L.
P.S. I don't know where you live but Dr. Vogel in Chico, Ca is a great Podiatrist.

Have you tried soaking his feet in Epsom Salts (Magnesium)?

You may have to go to orthotics which are expensive, especially for a growing boy, but well worth it. Have him checked out by a podiatrist. We just found out, after many years of telling the doctors that my son walks funny and looks strange when he runs, that one leg is a whole inch shorter than the other! As soon as we put in a lift, voila, the problem is gone! Makes me angry that so many doctors and a chiropractor did not listen to me. By the way our new chiropractor was the one that figured this out on the first visit without my even saying anything. Let me know if you want his name.
Good luck and happy soccer playing!

Hello R.,

My husband and his whole family are soccer fanatics. They have been playing and coaching for over 30 years. My BIL even played a little pro ball. Here is their advice....

Arch support and heel cups will definitly help. He should also wear a softer cleat (one for training where the cleat on the bottom is softer)during practice and the hard ones only during games. Not lacing the cleats so tight during practice could also help.

He is spending a lot of time in cleats. He should put them on at the field right before practice or games and take them off immediatley and put on sandlas or some other comfortable shoe. He should store the cleats with "shape keepers" to help them not colapse.

If he has wide feet, you might need to get him some special order cleats. In general they run narrow, but you can order special sizes through eurosport.com.

My husband also feels like your son has a very intense schedule for his age. However, I understand that team sports get really serious, really young and I am sure that my husband will eat these words when our son is 10!

Good luck and have fun!

Hi R.!

I played soccer competively for many years and had lots of sore feet and muscles. Your son's sore feet could be an indication of a foot condition, it's called plantar something. Sorry, that wasn't real helpful. Have you taken him to the doctor? Do his shoes fit him properly?...snug enough to support his foot? More expensive shoes may have a better built in heel cup as well as arch support since they're crafted better than your run of the mill cleat. I would definitely recommend taking him to the doctor because he could have heel spurs or tiny fractures in his feet causing pain. Try soaking them in an epsom salt bath to relieve the pain for a short time. Also, i've got a really great herbal muscle pain relief gel that would relieve the pain as well. Let me know if you're interested!

good luck! soccer rules :)

Hi R.,

Just an FYI.......my youngest daughter had started playing basketball this year. She recently complained of heel pain and was limping, we took her to the Dr and the first thing her Dr. asked us was does she play soccer or basketball? After running some x-rays to make sure nothing was fractured The Dr. came to the conclusion that it was Sever's Disease which is very common in children who play soccer and basketball. The Dr. told us to have her rest and put ice on her heel and to also make sure she was wearing heel support in her shoes.
Hope this info helps.


This sounds like Severs Disease. My daughter had it when she was 8 - just after her first season with soccer. It is more common in boys - it occurs as the heel bones are fusing and the achiles tendon is pulling at the same time. Very painful and it's pretty constant. The best remedy is ice (20 minutes max) and tylenol. It's something they grow out of once the heel bones have completely fused. Check with your doctor.

I had the same issue when I played soccer. My parents did something very simple. They got me soccer shoes for turf. It felt a lot better. There was some issues saying that they were not allowed. But that was mostly from people that didn't know the rules. If you look in the rule book they are fine. It worked for me.

Hi R.,my 3 kids are all avid soccer fans also! My youngst son has arthritis in his feet, so that can be a challenge. I have lived through the foot "pain" in them that you are dealing with now. According to the podiatrist, this is VERY common with soccer players. Soccer shoes are on the list of the absolute WORST shoes to wear. Put together wih a sport that beats up the feet, and the kids suffer from foot pain. One suggestion was a half size larger cleat, so that either a thicker sock, or two pairs of socks could be worn, giving more cushion an support. Another suggestion, is shoe inserts. The inserts run about $30 a pair, and they replace the sole in the shoe (can be worn with any shoe). Also, believe it or not, The Good Feet store worked miracles for our youngest son, and his arthritis. The pain that your child is feeling, is very likely in the heel of his foot. This is growth plate, this can be a very tender area. The Good Feet insoles are fit to the foot exactly, instead of like other inserts, which you hope the foot fits to them. My son with the arthritis suffered the worst, and on doctors orders had to give up the sport for 2 YEARS. He was devistated. He is returning to the sport this fall, although he has been playing at school this whole schoolyear, without pain (thanks to The Good Feet... razy, huh, who woud have thought..) A little ibuprofen (ask the doctor) helped before playing also. I wish you the best of luck. Sometims,these are just things we have to ride out... Julie

I also had 3 soccer players, one competitive. She also suffered feet pain after running and games and even walked on her toes or sides of her feet to relieve pain after games. Turned out to be more of her ankles-achillis tendonitis. We went to a sports medicine podiatrist and he told us that it is common with young athletes who are growing. She had to rest her feet for awhile and then ice, use orthodics in her shoes, stretching before and after running, etc. Eventually it subsided but she still played and wouldn't always admit it hurt as she didn't want to miss games. I'm a teacher of 3rd graders and I have a child in my class now -competitive soccer player and she has the same symptons. Her doc told her the same thing and she is not playing for a couple of weeks and then will be rechecked. My daughter is now in high school and switched to volleyball as her sport. Seems to be easier on her feet but has had knee and wrist injuries!! I guess if you are an athlete who gives it your all, injuries occur!! Good luck


I have three kids, 2 boys that are almost ten and eleven years old. Both boys began complaining about their feet at around 9 1/2 or ten years of age. The pain was mostly in the heel region and eventually began preventing them from regular activities and sports. I took them to a podiatrist who xrayed their feet to check for stress fractions and abnormalities. Both boys have what is called "sever's disease". It is basically a self limiting condition that happens in boys about that age and girls a little younger. It occurs because the bones and ligaments of the heel grow at different rates and the heel bone is trying to fuse itself together. The different ligaments in the foot and leg end up pulling on the bone trying to fuse in a tug-of-war causing pain and inflammation. The good news is that it isn't serious, no long term issues and it does go away after the bone fuses. (usually around age 15) The bad news is that it hurts something terrible and there is no "cure". Both boys have been fitted with orthotics that they wear all the time. It hasn't made it go away but it has made them more comfortable and and allowed them to go back to self limited activity. There is lot of information on sever's disease online. Hope this helps and good luck.

Hi!! Soccer cleats seem to be the worse when it comes to support and comfort!! As I child, I was very active and suffered lots of pain in my feet when I ran (didn't matter what type of shoes). I had flat feet, but I also had terrible flexibility in my feet as well. I saw a podiatrist and orthopedic specialist and had special (and pricey)orthotics made for my feet. They helped some, but really my problem was the flexibility. There is a very large muscle running down the middle of your foot. (If you arch your big toe back, you can feel it down the middle of your foot.) This muscle was the issue and I had to have the specially made inserts shaved to allow this muscle to move. What seemed to help the most was trying to stretch and loosen this muscle, especially for exercise. Since everything is connected, calf & hamstring stretches are critical to feet and back.

My point is you can go broke buying inserts and such for shoes. Stretching is free:-) See a specialist, and check to see if you son has good flexibility and range of motion in his legs.

I don't have personal experience with this, but our friend's daughter has two pairs of soccer cleats; one of which is to alleviate the pain that she gets in her feet when the fields are dry and hard. I beleive they are called field or turf shoes. She ordered them through one of our local retail soccer suppliers called "Off the Wall Soccer" in Chico, CA. If your son loves soccer, you should buy him a pair...you don't want him to do permanent damage to his feet or legs.

Good luck!

My son recently had to lay off of track practice as we found out that he has almost no arch's in his feet.
She said buy him some good supports, and a good pair of shoes, he already had the shoes, so we bought the supports,
but did not get to finish the season, as we had to wait for the pain to go a way first to determine if it was a stress fracture. I recently had one myself, and it was not
pretty, it took months to heal. I would go to good feet
and have them recommend something. That is where my peds
dr. sent us.
Good luck

Hi my name is E. and I am an athletic trainer at Foothill High School. I deal with injured athletes all the time. Unfortunatley athletic cleets are terrible for arch support. Is his pain in the heel or in the arch of his foot? With having a flat foot, strenthening his arch could help. Have him do towel grabs with his foot. Place his foot on the towel with him seated in a chair and have him scrunch the towel with his toes.Also freezing a water bottle and rolling his foot on it and help with massaging his foot plus pain relief with the ice. If the problem is causing him alot of pain and not getting better I would suggest going to a orthopedic doctor and possibly physical therapy for more strengthening. I hope this helps and doesn't confuse you. Also stretching his achilles tendon and calf muscles could help relieve some of the pain.

He could very well be suffering from plantar fasciitis, which is an inflammation of the plantar (the hard tendon that runs from the ball of the foot to the heel and forms the arch). I have very high arches and suffered with heel pain through much of my childhood and still suffer from left foot ball pain from the same condition.

Heel cups do help, but this condition takes months to heal. It's not going to resolve quickly, no matter what you do, and bear in mind that any sort of cup or orthotic should be worn in all of his shoes -- not just his soccer shoes -- since you are trying to calm a condition that is exacerbated whenever he is on his feet.

If he's flat-footed, the arch supports could be compounding the problem since they're trying to put more of an arch in his foot than his physiology has provided for. My husband and several of my family members are flat-footed and their foot pain is increased with the use of orthotics.

You could consider one of the custom-molded orthotics such as what is offered through the "Good Feet" store. In this, they take a mold of the foot and custom make the support to fit your foot's natural terrain. I understand that this is an excellent, albeit expensive, solution for many. Their supports are reputed to be well made and last for a long time.

Finally, I make therapeutic salts that would make an excellent foot soak for him in the evening ... particularly after a practice or game. My Gingergrass salts are great for detoxing through the feet, so if his soreness is connected to any toxic buildup in his body, it will help eliminate it. My Bergamot salts are excellent for athletes as they help to prevent or correct foot odor and fungal infections often experienced from exertion while wearing closed in shoes.

Take a look at my website: www.mccluckfarms.com or write me for more info.

Best of luck!

V. T

Hi R.!

My son plays soccer, but it's Track that really effects his feet.

Try the store "The Good Feet". They were great at showing simple solutions.

Seems to be working!

Good Luck :o)

He may have plantear fascitis (can't remember the correct spelling). I had it playing soccer & while a heel cup helped a little, the best thing was an ace bandage that just went around the arch of your foot. You slipped it on and it kept pressure on the arch area of the foot. I bought it at Long's. I think it was made by Dr. Scholl's.

I was a div 1 college player, have 3 soccer playing kids too, and still play on 2 teams.

My husband (a soccer player and an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in foot/ankle) suggests softer Spenco brand inserts which may give better cushioning. Changing sports throughout the year (thus different shoes, types of movements, etc) should help avoid repetitive stress type injuries. Kids who play only one sport all year long get these type of problems. If still suffering, he should be evaluated.

I myself am a soccer player..I know how feet tend to hurt in soccer shoes. My arches cramp up every game and at every practice. There is not much you can do besides to put icy hot on the bottom of the foot to relax the muscles. Depending on how bad his feet hurt a small week off with no soccer playing with no cleats may help his feet to relax a bit more. One of the girls on my team had arch problems and she went to the doctors and they basically said that theres nothing they can do but for her to use arch supports and take small breaks every now and again. But icy hot or if you can see if your doctor will prescribe you lidacane patches, which numb the area in which it is applied, those two items may help him out alot!
Good luck on their next games!


I played for over 15 years.and I have flat feet. It depends on if its the top or the bottom of the foot. if its the bottom like where the arch is he may just be cramping. To strech it have him put the heel of his hand where his ball of the foot connects to the toes and pull back.that will stretch the arch. Do that anytime it hurts after practice and after shower is the best time. if its the top of the foot you may have to take him to a specialist. If it is just cramoing that is the 1st sign of dehydration and if it starts in his feet I wouldn't be surprised if he develops shin splints or cramping of the ham strings. you couls also try soaking his feet in warm water and epsom salt. Hope that helps

Hi R.,
This is what my husband the Podiatrist says. There are 2 types of feet that have this problem and it is usually at around age 10 that they experience the pain. 1. Feet with a metatarsus adductus and 2. Feet that are excessively pronated or flat.
Why? Because the plantar fascia is under a tremendous amount of tension in these two foot types and the growth plate in the heel is under traction.
For this reason, it is called a traction apophysitis or Severs disease. The good news is that this is a self limiting condition and will usually resolve but can take years. Your best bet is to see a board certified Podiatrist in your area. He or she will be able to handle this problem best. You will likely need xrays of the growth plate to check for irregularity compared to the nonaffected side. Some cases are bad enough to warrant a cast of the foot for a short period. See your Podiatrist.
Mother of 3 Gymnasts

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