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Stress Fractures and How to Avoid Them

  Stress fractures can happen when too much weight or stress is placed on a weak or fatigued bone. It often occurs from overuse activity. Muscles that are too fatigued to absorb shock send that shock to the bone causing breaks in the bone. Young athletes are often at a higher risk due to the over-training in a competitive season of sports activity. The weight-bearing bones of the lower leg are where most stress fractures occur. Studies have shown that female athletes typically experience more stress fractures than male athletes.

  Sporting events that are high impact include gymnastics, track and field, basketball and many of these athletes are susceptible to stress fractures. When pain in the lower leg, ankle or foot fails to subside a medical professional may take radiographs or recommended a MRI to evaluate the pain. If a stress fracture is found the usual treatment is resting the extremity to allow for healing of the fracture.

  Sometimes, this may require the patient to remain non-weight bearing until the bone has shown adequate healing. In most cases, it can take 6-8 weeks for a stress fracture to heal enough to return to tolerated activities. Individuals who have had a stress fracture are at a higher risk of developing subsequent stress fractures.

Taking steps to avoid stress fractures will lessen the chances of such injury.

  • Make sure there is a healthy and proper balance between training and recovery periods. Remember that any dramatic increase in frequency, duration or intensity of a workout can increase the risk of a stress fracture. Increase slowly to allow your body time to adjust to the new program.
  • Work with your athletic trainer or coach on proper form and training schedules. Poor form and technique can result in stress fractures, consider cross-training to reduce chronic repetitive trauma.
  • If you are a runner, use a treadmill with shock absorption or a track to avoid the pounding effects from concrete and pavement. This, along with proper footwear will assist in reducing lower-leg and foot stress.
  • Ensuring that proper footwear is worn for the sport involved. Your physician or athletic trainer can check for proper fit. Even if you are not an athlete, wearing poorly supportive shoes on hard surfaces can cause stress fractures in the feet.
  • Bone strength is vital in any sport and in basic well-being. Maintain a healthy diet and include the recommended dose of calcium and vitamin D for your age and gender. Seek the advice of a medical professional before using supplements or beginning a new exercise regimen.

  Stress fractures can shorten the life span of an athlete’s career. Stress fractures are one of the most common injuries in sports. Listening to your body will lessen your risk. Please seek attention from a medical professional if you believe you are suffering from a possible stress fracture.

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