Stress fractures are tiny cracks in a bone. They are caused by the repetitive use of force, often by overdoing, such as repeatedly jumping or running long distances. Stress fractures can also come from normal use of a bone that’s been weakened by a condition such as osteoporosis.
Stress fractures are most common on bones that carry weight. Runners are more susceptible to stress fractures because of the weight our legs carry and the repetitive motion. The work we put our leg muscles through get tired, so the bones end up doing the work causing a crack in it. Stress fractures can happen anywhere in your bones, but for runners the most common places of stress fractures are in our legs.
***If you do suspect a stress fracture, call your Doctor to further asses your problem. Each person is different and should be looked at by a professional. And obviously if you are in a lot of pain go to the nearest Emergency room.***
Causes of stress fractures:
- Quick repetitive stress on the bone or overuse.
- Doing too much too soon too quick.
- Wearing improper running shoes.
- Certain activities that involves jumping or running, like dancing, basketball, distance running, and tennis.
- Weak muscles and poor flexibility.
- Overweight or underweight.
- Bone density issues.
- Sudden changes in running surfaces.
Symptoms of stress fractures:
- Localized pain on the bone.
- Tender to touch the area of the fracture.
- Pain when pressure is placed on the area of the fracture.
- Pain when putting stress on the leg, such as walking or running.
- When running the pain gets rapidly worse and doesn’t improve.
- Sometimes swelling and warmth at the area of pain.
- Wear proper shoes!!!
- Gradually increase training. Do it at a slow progression. Increase distance by no more than 10% of what you are currently doing.
- Run on soft surfaces if you can. Like grass, dirt, or pavement. Its better than concrete.
- Make sure to eat foods rich in Calcium, and Vitamin D such as: Tuna, cheese, kale, spinach, cereals and soy milk. And also our bodies produce some vitamin D whenever we are in the sun our bodies start to produce it 😉
- Wearing shoe inserts that are shock absorbent.
- Probably the most important thing you can do is R-E-S-T!!!!! This means avoiding the activity that caused the fracture and any other activities that cause pain. Rest time could be weeks or months; typical time for a stress fracture to heal is 6-8 weeks. Depending on the severity and your case. Your Doctor will tell you how long you need to rest.
- Taking pain medicine is not often recommend as according to studies it slows healing.
- Icing the area will help with the swelling and also aids as pain relief. If you can bear it, massage the area with a piece of ice.
- Depending on your case, your Doctor might send you home with a brace or crutches. Especially if the area hurts when resting.
Talk to your Doctor to see when you can resume activity, and how you should progress forward. If you are unsure, here are some activities you can start with first.
- Start with non stressful activities like swimming or biking.
- If you feel OK after than you can try non impact weight baring workouts. Even get on the elliptical
- After that you can will slowly start walking with no pain. Where after than you can gradually start walking fast and running.
- Increase your activity SLOWLY until you are back to the point you were at, then you can resume your normal activity keeping the increase low to avoid another stress fracture.
As runners, we are most at risk to get a stress fracture, especially distance runners. If we keep our mileage increase to a minimum it decreases the chances of stress fractures. Be smart and don’t ignore that annoying pain on your shin, or foot. If you catch the problem in time and rest, then you can avoid having to sit out from training for 2 months!!!! So be safe out there while running, don’t ignore the signals your body tells you. Listen and be good to it, you only get one so take care of it!!