What is a stress fracture?
Stress fractures affect a large number of athletes across many different disciplines. They are microscopic cracks across a bone that can no longer handle the repetitive stresses of exercise. After time, these micro-lesions compound and cause the bone to fracture. This is what is known as a stress fracture.
Three regions are particularly vulnerable
- • The tibia: the fracture’s appearance can be sudden or follow an ignored or poorly-treated case of shin splints.
• The foot: the areas that are most commonly affected are the metatarsals and the sesamoids of the big toe.
• Femoral neck, pubis, sacrum, iliac crests, etc.
The causes of micro-cracks
Their appearance may be related to a sudden or unusual change in your training regimen, or possibly a change to your running surface. You should also pay attention to any pains that surface after switching shoes or insoles.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
Be careful! The leading cause of stress fractures is changing up your training regimen too suddenly.
Watch what you eat
Bone tissue needs to be fed in order to heal itself after lesions, just like muscular tissue. Your bones need vitamins and mineral salts, which are necessary for their healthy functioning. An imbalanced or insufficient diet will make your bones more fragile and they will no longer be able to heal themselves.
Adapt your diet
Your energy, protein, and lipid intake need to be sufficient and balanced, day after day. Be aware of your needs and maintain as regular a diet as possible. Low energy consumption will exhaust your reserves and lower your ability to rebuild tissue.
Treating a stress fracture
Normally, complete rest is enough to eliminate a stress fracture. The rest period can, however, be very long (six weeks at the minimum, and sometimes several months).
When the pain is particularly sharp, avoiding pressure and keeping weight off the affected limb (with the help of crutches) are advised.
In any such situation, be sure to take it easy!
Guillaume Boitel – Doctor in Physiology, Bio-mechanics, and Sports Sciences
You Run, We Care
For more running and health advice, use the Running Care app !