Stress Fractures in Runners

Running is a fantastic way to get in shape, meditate, and achieve challenging goals. Sports medicine professionals treat many runners for “stress fractures,” which is a troubling trend.  What are stress fractures and how can they be prevented?

What is a Stress Fracture?

A stress fracture is simply a tiny break in a bone that is caused by exerting more force than the bone can absorb and disperse. In runners, they are most often found in the delicate bones of the feet or in the shin bones. Imagine the force with which a runner’s feet hit the pavement, and the multiplied effects of their body weight behind each step and it’s easy to see how such damage could occur.

What Problems Can a Stress Fracture Cause?

Eventually, an untreated stress fracture can transform into a full-fledged break. Before that, they’ll cause swelling, very specific pain at the point of the damage, stiffness in the area of the problem, and you will probably have difficulty running on the affected bone.

How are Stress Fractures Treated?

Though no athlete wants to hear this, sports medicine professionals will recommend refraining from running and staying off of the injured area as much as possible for about six weeks to allow it to heal. Ice is helpful to reduce swelling and pain, and your orthopaedic doctor may also prescribe an NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug) to further improve pain and swelling.

Orthopedic_and_SportsHow to Prevent Stress Fractures

It can be difficult to fully prevent stress fractures if you have weak bones due to genetics or other health conditions. Ideally, a good diet that has ample calcium and Vitamin D sources will help keep your bones strong. Keep your weight within healthy parameters and be sure to wear running shoes that are perfectly fitted to your gait and running style. Moderate your running schedule too, since aggressive increases in training time are also a culprit for stress fractures.

Stress fractures can be painful and bothersome, and unfortunately are a fairly widespread issue for runners. Talk to your sports medicine professional for more information on preventing this common problem.

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