Stress Fractures — Why Your New Year’s Resolution Put You Back on the Couch
- Posted on: Jan 15 2016
You took your time getting to your New Year’s Resolution, but now you’re on it — you’re going to run five miles four days a week. You basically went from zero to 100 without any baby steps. But beware, ramping up your fitness efforts too quickly can cause injuries, especially to your bones!
A stress fracture is a direct result of overuse. When the muscles that are as-signed with absorbing much of the stress of an activity such as running become overly fatigued, they can no longer do their job. So, the force then transfers to the bone, creating a tiny crack called a stress fracture.
How a stress fracture develops
If you want to get scientific about it, a stress fracture is caused by the repetitive application of a greater amount of force than the bones of your feet and lower legs normally bear. This doesn’t mean more than they “can” bear, it’s just that maybe, particularly in a case such as yours, you’re doing more than they are used to. That’s why stress fractures often accompany new running routines.
It comes down to the battle of resorption versus growth in your load-bearing bones. Both of these processes are ongoing, making for turnover of bone cells, the hallmark of healthy bones. But if you put unaccustomed force onto them without appropriate recovery, you’ll create a situation where your bones are re-sorbing bone cells faster than you’re replacing them. This leads to bone fatigue, and, if you keep running down this path, tiny cracks develop in the fatigued bones. Without rest, those cracks will become stress fractures.
Pain is the symptom of a stress fracture; that pain is usually in a specific spot. You may barely notice the pain at first, but it will worsen with continued overuse. There can be swelling, but not always. The pain subsides with rest — the basic treatment for a stress fracture.
Common stress fracture scenarios
Stress fractures, as in your case, often develop as a result of increasing the amount or intensity of an activity too quickly. Or they can come from impact from an unfamiliar surface — a tennis player going from clay to hard courts, or a run-ner going from a dirt trail to pavement. Improper equipment can play a role, too. These sports are most susceptible to stress fractures: tennis, track and field, gymnastics, and basketball.
So how do you prevent the next one?
OK, so your pals at the Orthopedic & Shoulder Center will help you get through this stress fracture. How do you avoid the next one? Here are some tips:
- When going into a new sport, especially something like running, increase the level incrementally. Don’t go all in!
- Cross training can outsmart stress fractures. Instead of only running, maybe throw in biking for other cardio. Add strength training and flexibility exercises, too.
- Eat right. This is especially true for people prone to osteoporosis. Vitamin D is important for bone strength.
- Invest in good equipment. Wearing tennis shoes for running will cause a foot fault!
- If pain develops, stop running and rest for a few days. If the pain contin-ues, call us.
If you think you may have a stress fracture, call us at 309-888-9800 and let us check it out – [email protected]