A stress fracture is just like it sounds. It’s your bones getting damaged under stress. It starts with your muscles and joints not having enough time to recover from a workout routine, and progresses to painful fissures in the bones. This is largely down to inexperienced runners increasing their workout volume without adequate preparation.
Stress fractures are usually seen in runners and those who are into plyometric activities because these require swift foot movements, and at high repetitions. Recent studies have shown stress fractures occur in the lower leg bones and more than half of all adult and adolescent are prone to this injury.
Women runners are especially in danger. Women who have a steady or intense workout routine, but have irregular menstrual cycles are more likely to stress fractures. Finally, the group that’s most vulnerable is new runners, who often tend to overdo their exercises. As the muscles aren’t conditioned, they get sore, leading to the ripple effect that causes stress fractures.
Treatment for stress fractures
First and foremost your main concern has to be to alleviate the pain and this can be achieved by stopping your exercises or workout activities. Attend to the affected area with cooling packs, and make sure you consult a physiotherapist or physician to manage the pain associated with the stress fracture. Make sure you get a thorough examination of the bone in question including X-Rays and density tests.
The road to recovery from stress fractures is slow and gradual. Don’t try to make it any other way. Once any residual swelling and pain has withered away, ease yourself into very low-tempo activities such as gentle walks and so on. For a couple weeks after recovering, stick to light exercises only. For strengthening your core, choose bodyweight exercises that don’t involve too much jumping or strain on the lower body.
Avoid taking up major running loads immediately after recovery. This is a recipe for disaster. For six to eight weeks, it should only be about light jogs and brisk walks. Your body needs time to heal the injury, before you can start running again. Haste could cause damage that may never heal properly. Remember severe stress fractures that won’t heal on their own may require surgery, which immediately rules you out of running for many months together. So be patient about getting back, because the alternative is not pleasant.
After weeks of not workout, when you start back, don’t forget to warm-up before running.