Side-Stepping Stress Fractures: 4 Prevention Tips
The aptly named “stress fracture” is not only caused by stress on your bones but can it add a lot of stress to your daily life. A hairline crack in a bone—a stress fracture—might be there for some time before you realize what’s going on, but once the stress fracture begins to hurt you’ll know that something is not right. Symptoms can include persistent pain that grows more intense with activity, swelling, and inflammation. If you suspect you are suffering from a stress fracture, don’t delay in consulting with your doctor: untreated, the hairline crack can become a full-blown fracture and cause you even more problems.
Fortunately, most stress fractures respond well to rest. Your doctor will work with you to take pressure off the injured area by putting you in a healing boot and crutches, perhaps for as much as four to six weeks, to give your body a chance to repair the damage. You may also be given a course of rehabilitation to retrain your movements to prevent another occurrence.
Of course, the best treatment for a stress fracture—or any condition–is prevention. Here are four ways to prevent this condition:
- Keep your bones strong with a diet rich in calcium and minerals, particularly if you have low body weight, heavy or irregular menstruation, or a history of stress fractures.
- Wear shoes with good support, especially when you are engaging in high-impact activities like running or playing sports. If you have unusually low or high arches you may benefit from orthotics that will add to your shoes’ support.
- Repetitive movements that put pressure on the same bones over and over again can be particularly risky (some kinds of stress fractures in the feet are known as “march fractures” because they are so common in soldiers on long marches.) Plan ahead if you are going to be running or walking long distances.
- Be aware of the surface under your feet. Working out or running on hard surfaces can be hard on your body, and uneven surfaces present their own dangers. No matter what your activity stretch first, build up slowly, and take time to rest.