Runner’s Guide to Stress Fractures: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

As a runner, it’s important to take care of your body to prevent injuries. In this post, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatments for stress fractures in runners.

Stress fractures are a common injury among runners. Specifically, a stress fracture is a small crack in a bone caused by repetitive force from overuse.

Moreover, a stress fracture can lead to more serious injuries, such as complete fracture, if left untreated.


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 What Causes Stress Fractures in Runners?

Stress fractures are most common in runners and athletes who participate in activities that involve repetitive impact, such as jumping and running.

Some common causes of stress fractures include:

1. Increased Training: If you suddenly or quickly increase the intensity or duration of your training, you may be at risk for a stress fracture.

2. Type of Running Surface: Running on a hard surface, such as concrete, can increase your risk of a stress fracture.

3. Poor footwear: Wearing shoes that don’t fit properly or don’t provide adequate support can increase your risk of a stress fracture.

4. Bone Density: If you have low bone density or osteoporosis, you may also be at a higher risk for stress fractures.

Additionally, the presence of eating disorders can also contribute to low bone density, which can lead to stress fractures.

5. Nutrition: A diet lacking in essential vitamins and minerals, especially calcium and/or vitamin D, can weaken bones. Consequently, weakened bones lead to an increased risk of stress fractures.

What are the Symptoms of Stress Fractures in Runners?

The symptoms of a stress fracture can vary depending on the severity of the injury.

Some common symptoms include:

1. Pain that worsens with activity, but improves with rest.

2. The presence of pain or tenderness or swelling at the site of injury/pain.

3. Pain that is localized to a specific spot. As a result, you can specifically and directly pinpoint the exact pain location.

4. Pain that is aggravated by touch or pressure.

What are the Treatments for Stress Fractures for Runners?

The best treatment for a stress fracture is rest. Therefore, you will need to stop the activity that caused the injury. Then, avoid high-impact activities until the bone has healed.

The recommended treatments are:

1. Physical Therapy: Your physical therapist may recommend exercises to improve your range of motion, strength, and balance.

2. Orthotics: If your footwear is the cause of your stress fracture, your physical therapist may recommend custom footwear orthotics. These orthotics will specifically provide additional support and cushioning.

3. Nutrition: It may be recommended to eat foods that are rich in calcium and vitamin D to support bone health.

4. Immobilization: If the stress fracture is severe, immobilization of the affected body part may be placed in cast to minimize the unnecessary stresses to the bone to allow it to heal.

Therefore, it is also important to follow the recommendations for treatment and avoid returning to activity too quickly.

When returning to activity before the bone has fully healed, it can consequently increase your risk of re-injury and more serious injuries.

How to Prevent Stress Fractures in Runners?

Preventing stress fractures is key to maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle.

Here are some tips to prevent stress fractures:

1. Gradually increase your activity level: Avoid sudden increases in the duration or intensity of your running workouts.

In addition, gradually increase your activity level to allow your body to adjust to the loads placed upon it.

2. Wear proper footwear: Choose shoes that fit well but also provide adequate support and cushioning.

As a result, replace your shoes regularly, especially if you notice signs of wear and tear.

3. Cross-train: Incorporate other low-impact activities, such as weight-lifting, swimming, and cycling, into your routine. As result, this will reduce the amount of repetitive impact on your bones.

4. Eat a balanced diet: A diet rich in calcium, vitamin D, and other essential vitamins and minerals can support bone health.

5. Get enough rest: Adequate rest is essential for allowing your body to recover and repair from workouts.

Request an Appointment at More 4 Life

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a physical therapist for an evaluation.

Ignoring symptoms of a stress fracture can lead to more serious injuries or chronic pain.

Our team of expert physical therapists will provide a thorough evaluation and develop a personalized treatment plan to help you get back to running and other activities that you love.

Don’t let a stress fracture keep you from pursuing your fitness goals. Request an appointment at More 4 Life at 314-941-3970.

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