Stress Fractures

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Good morning, my lovelies!  How are you? I’m GREAT!  My knees feel decent — so maybe all the inflammation from this Saturday’s trail race has finally gone down.  I’m don’t feel too sore from my upper-body Running Hiatus Workout #1.   And… it’s my best friend Sarah’s birthday!  Sarah lives in Virginia, but I’m going to see her in two weeks.  I’m so excited.

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Fun fact about Sarah:  She’s an accountant who was born on Tax Day.    It’s like she was destined to crunch numbers!

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the BEST friend a girl could ever ask for!

 

In other news…. breakfast was superb.

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The *star* was a totally yummy bowl of banana oatmeal.  My oatmeal contained:

 

  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 sliced banana
  • Toppings: apricots, pecans, brown sugar, strawberries

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There was a lot going on in this bowl of oatmeal, which is why it was so delish!

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Stress Fractures

 

On last night’s The Biggest Loser, Laura from the Green Team was diagnosed with a stress fracture of the hip.  A stress fracture is the worst type of overuse injury an athlete can sustain.  Similar to a hairline fracture, a stress fracture is a very small sliver of break in the bone that is typically caused by repeated stress on key weight-bearing bones.

 

In runners, dancers, and other high-impact athletes, the most common bones affected are the tibia (bone of the lower leg) and metatarsals (bones of the foot). I’ve heard of several women (including amazing blogger Frayed Laces) who suffered from hip fractures as well.

(Source)

 

Stress fractures are more common in female athletes than male athletes.  According to Health Link,  male athletes may have greater muscle mass, which absorbs shock better. Also, in a study of female athletes, decreased calf girth was a predictor of stress fractures of the tibia. The larger width of male bones may also absorb shock better.   Bone mass and bone mineral density can vary widely in females due to several factors, including hormonal influences and menstrual irregularities. Low calcium intake and eating disorders may contribute to the development of stress fractures.

 

Factors that put you at a greater risk for a stress fracture include:

 

  • Increasing your mileage or intensity of exercise too quickly.
  • Training on uneven or very hard surfaces.
  • Running in old shoes.
  • Abnormal or disordered eating patterns that can lead to menstrual disturbance, and in turn, low estrogen levels.

 

Here are some simple ways to prevent stress fractures from occurring:

 

  • Never increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% at a time.
  • Vary your activities and incorporate cross-training.
  • Take a Vitamin D and Calcium supplement to help strengthen your bones.
  • Eat a balanced and healthy diet.
  • If you run, try to run on a dirt path or in the grass.
  • If you feel sore or in pain, stop and rest to allow your body to heal.

 

I actually thought I had a stress fracture in my tibia back in October, and it was the worst thing ever — a stress fracture means you’ll be off your feet for a minimum of 6 – 8 weeks!  After that scare, I realized how important it is to train smart and safe

 

Have you had a stress fracture?  What was your experience like?

{ 47 comments }

 

  • Leanne April 15, 2009, 4:19 am

    Luckily I’ve never suffered from one, but I know quite a few people who have and it sounds awful!

    I know I should probably supplement but I don’t…Do you usually take supplements like vitamin D and calcium?

  • Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point April 15, 2009, 4:23 am

    leanne- i take calcium and a glucosamine supplement everyday. but maybe i should get on the vitamin d bandwagon as well!

  • Alison April 15, 2009, 4:23 am

    I don’t know whether I’ve ever had a stress fracture. I’ve had a lot of pain in my foot after increasing the intensity of my exercise about a month ago. It’s not fun. Although I don’t know if it is really a stress fracture. Thanks for the info! Very interesting.

  • Lauren April 15, 2009, 4:25 am

    Happy Birthday to your BFF!!!

    I’ve heard of stress fractures but never really thought about them until I read this post. It’s definitely a good idea to be mindful of these things.
    I’m not taking supplements but I’m thinking it may be something to look into because of the amount of running that I am doing now. (25-30 miles a week)

    Hope your knees are feeling better. Take care girl!

  • k April 15, 2009, 4:41 am

    I’m de-lurking because stress fractures seem to be my thing…
    (But first I’ll say, Caitlin- I’m not sure how I found your blog but I really like it! Thanks for writing! Also, because you live in the sunny south, you probably don’t need to take a vitamin D supplement)

    I’ve had two stress fractures- one in my tibia a couple years ago and more recently one in my fibula (which is a strange place for a runner apparently). I got the first one training for my very first race šŸ™

    For me the hardest part of this latest fracture was that I was injured and basically had a broken leg, but because there is no cast or splinting, I felt like it wasn’t a “real” injury and thus I was just being a wuss by not running. It was harder for me to work through it mentally than it was physically.

    The silver lining for me was that my doctor then ordered a bone density test to see if there might be something up and it turns out I have lower bone mass than I should. I never would have known that if the stress fractures hadn’t happened. So I guess for that I’m grateful.

  • Abby April 15, 2009, 4:44 am

    This is a great post. Stress fractures are one of my biggest running fears – thanks for all the great tips on avoiding them!

  • Amelia (AC/DC: Highways to Health) April 15, 2009, 5:03 am

    Great post! I have never suffered a stress fracture – thank goodness! They sound terrible though. I can’t imagine being out of running for that long.

  • Emlod10 April 15, 2009, 5:10 am

    ugh yes…left tibia and now it feels like i’ve got another one in my femur (maybe it’s radiating from my hip?) anyways, rest and tiger balm patches are my savior. my first stress fracture i was told to take 6 months of hard impact off…that didn’t go over so well. but i ended up resorting to yoga, recumbant, spinning classes, etc. it was actually a great motivator to realize not only how much stress i was putting on my body by running 5 times a week, but also how many different ways there are to get that runners high!
    luckily i’ve got the gym or else i’d go crazy.

  • Olga April 15, 2009, 5:16 am

    happy birthday to the best friend!

    Thanks for sharing the info about the injury…just one more thing I need to be mindful of šŸ™‚

  • VeggieGirl April 15, 2009, 5:17 am

    Great night out!!

    Never had a stress fracture, and I’m going to keep it that way, haha šŸ™‚

  • Carlee April 15, 2009, 5:31 am

    Weird that you are posting about this today; I’ve been in a lot of pain lately and I’m wondering if that is what my issue is…

  • Mica April 15, 2009, 5:32 am

    Yay, Sarah from Virginia! It is the the state for lovers!

    Oof, that picture of stress fractures looks terrible. I hope that health link study is right, maybe my gi-normous calves are helping absorb stress!

    Also, I don’t know how true this is, but RW just mentioned a study finding that grass running is just as hard on your legs as concrete running. Who knows.

    http://peakperformance.runnersworld.com/2009/04/to-lose-weight-focus-on-liquid-caloriesmany-people-have-noted-that-the-dramatic-rise-in-obesity-in-the-last-several-decades.html

  • Simple and Divine April 15, 2009, 5:45 am

    I over-exercised my way into THREE in my right foot. Casted for 4.5 months and later (3 months later) for two months when a plexiglass panel fell on the foot and refractured the top. oyy. i still experience tons of pain. running is not an option for me, but that’s ok! i abused it, and have found a blessing in the still kindness of vinyasa yoga. =) (This all happened a little less than 1 year ago – diagnosis- but i was still going crazy ON the fractures for about two months, hence why i still have the handicaps)

  • Betsy April 15, 2009, 5:51 am

    I was watching Biggest Loser and I felt so bad for her… you feel like you’re doing all the right things but you don’t realize you may be overdoing it. It freaked me out a bit!

  • Brandi April 15, 2009, 6:07 am

    Happy Birthday to sarah from VA! Yay for Virginians šŸ™‚

    I’ve never had a stress fracture, and I hope I never do!

  • HangryPants April 15, 2009, 6:12 am

    Happy Birthday to Sarah. That’t pretty funny – one of my best friends is is also an accountant born tomorrow!

  • iowagirleats April 15, 2009, 6:12 am

    HA! That is funny about your friend. I have a friend who’s an auditor and she just gave a little onsie to a friend at a baby shower that said “Little Tax Deduction” – it was precious!

  • ely7 April 15, 2009, 6:20 am

    I had a stress fracture in my femural neck last year. 5 months no running and a lot of pain. The fracture was so small it could only be seen on MRI at first. The hip has really poor blood supply so it takes a long time to heal. And if it doesn’t heal fully before starting up again the entire joint could explode leading to hip replacement!

  • Rose April 15, 2009, 6:25 am

    Happy Birthday to your friend! Sounds like she’s in the right biz šŸ™‚

  • Danielle April 15, 2009, 7:04 am

    Thanks for the info I never really understood a stress fracture.

  • K from ksgoodeats April 15, 2009, 7:05 am

    I haven’t had a stress fracture thank goodness (I’ve had a real fracture instead) but my friend had one in her foot and it wasn’t pretty!

  • J April 15, 2009, 7:08 am

    I had a stress fracture in my lower fibula in the fall of 2007 when I was training for my first half. I ran with pain for quite awhile because it wasn’t bad pain. I finally got an x-ray, which didn’t show anything, and then an MRI, where it finally showed up. I was in an air cast for six weeks, and my orthopedist said that if it had been diagnosed earlier, he would have put me in a boot for six weeks and then an air cast for six more weeks! I didn’t run for three months and I also had a lot of weakness in my ankle after I got the okay to run again, which got much better after eight weeks of physical therapy.

    So in a nutshell, it sucked. (Except for the fact that it saved me from running in the winter!) I had permission to bike and swim but only did sporadically and I lost a lot of fitness. The only upside is that I am now a fanatic about increasing my mileage super slowly! I am paranoid about getting one again.

  • Carolina John April 15, 2009, 7:08 am

    yea i’m trying to schedule a bone scan now to be sure my shin pain isn’t a stress fracture. it’s not fun! i was hurting for laura watching last night.

  • tfh April 15, 2009, 7:12 am

    I had a metatarsal stress fracture as a teenager. I think the combination of overtraining + not getting adequate nutrition for my growing body did it for me. They’re definitely the worst because they take so long to heal!

    Happy birthday to your friend Sarah!

  • *Andrea* April 15, 2009, 7:14 am

    aww have fun with your bff and happy bday to her! i love that she’s born on tax day haha total fate

  • Matt April 15, 2009, 7:28 am

    No stress fracture here! I thought I had one in my hip once but it was just caused by my back being out of alignment. Chiro fixed it in 5 minutes!

  • Debbie~ April 15, 2009, 7:32 am

    I have had a stress fracture in my lower leg from over use and it was aweful. I couldn’t do any exercise for the first 2 weeks and then very light, low impact stuff for another month. I am happy to say that I am 100% back to normal and it has changed the way I work out now.

  • runsarah April 15, 2009, 7:50 am

    I have never suffered from one, but I have heard the recovery can be tough. Happy Birthday to your friend!

  • Sally April 15, 2009, 7:55 am

    I had a stress fracture in my tibia while in high school. I had switched from gymnastics (where I probably got the injury) to track and my shin was sore all the time but my coach told me it was just shin splints. I didn’t find out it was cracked until I blew out my knee (ACL, MCL, LCL, meniscus, the whole 9 yards) and had my leg x-rayed. Oops. I also went to prom before I knew that my knee was seriously injured (the trainer told me I just pulled a muscle)… Obviously I had to take a lot of time off to heal my knee so by the time my knee was good to go, my shin was, too.

  • Allison R April 15, 2009, 8:04 am

    YES! I had one last summer in my foot! It was AWEFUL! Mine took especially long to heal and I couldn’t do cardio workouts for 3 months!!!!!!!!!

  • Sarah (lovINmytummy) April 15, 2009, 8:37 am

    Happy Birthday to the 2nd coolest Sarah I know.

    I’ve had stress fractures twice in my left foot, but both were while playing basketball in college. I’m assuming it was from all the constant jumping/landing, since I’ve never had issues running. Recovery/rest was the hardest part for me, and I spent a lot of time on the bike/in the pool. Boooo…

  • Holly April 15, 2009, 8:39 am

    Ugh, yes! I have had 2 diagnosed and one that I diagnosed myself. šŸ™‚ All were in my tibia. It was also when I was crazy running and not eating enough to fuel my workouts, so I think that attributed to it. Thankfully I don’t make that mistake anymore! They seriously are the worst.

  • Meg April 15, 2009, 9:05 am

    Thanks for the info about stress fractures! Happy birthday to one of your best friends!

  • Niki April 15, 2009, 9:14 am

    Thanks for the info on stress fractures! I felt so bad for Laura last night on TBL but i think it was right for them to send her home so she could get help and rehab.

    I’ve never had a stress fracture, just torn ligaments in my ankle and those take forever to heal too!!

  • alli April 15, 2009, 10:29 am

    i’ve had 3 stress fractures in the same shin, and am very prone to shin splints. i ran cross country in high school when i got my first fracture, and my coach had me take 6 aspirin and run through the pain for races because i was our best runner… not fun! i had to wear a big knee-high boot for 2 of the fractures! it sucks!

  • Learning to Cope w/ Eating and College April 15, 2009, 10:39 am

    I had the worst stress fracture a couple of years ago in my ankle. It totally stunk, because I had to quit running for the rest of the season and my doctor never really told me what I could have done to prevent it. He also didnt tell me what I can do to prevent another stress fracture. Do you have any recommendations??

  • Oh She Glows April 15, 2009, 11:39 am

    Thats funny I was just popping a Vit D and calcium as I was reading this! šŸ™‚

  • Katerina April 15, 2009, 11:51 am

    Interesting about the menstrual stuff. Can you clarify what you mean about abnormal or disordered eating patterns? I have actually been suffering from this recently and was attributing it to my increased activity considering that I think I eat really well, a ton, and frequently šŸ™‚

    I certainly don’t want to put myself in danger of a stress fracture!

  • Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point April 15, 2009, 11:55 am

    katerina – i mean not getting enough calories, or binging one day and restricting the next. if you are eating a balanced diet, you should be fine.

  • Michelle April 15, 2009, 1:47 pm

    I had stress fractures in both tibias during my cross country season in 9th grade, and it was miserable. No running for 12 weeks, and when my mom took me for my follow up appointment then, she told the doctor that if he told me i wasn’t allowed to run still, she wasnt going to take me home, because I was the crankiest person alive for 3 months.

  • thecleanveggie April 15, 2009, 3:00 pm

    i have never had a stress fracture, nor did I know that running in old shoes can cause them! Looks like i’ll need to get a new pair.

    love the oats!

  • sara April 15, 2009, 4:10 pm

    i have a tibial stress fracture right now šŸ™ my last run was 5 weeks ago, and i’m guessing i won’t be able to run for another 2-3 weeks or so. i spent the first 3 weeks in a walking boot and have been in an air splint since then. this has forced me to cross-train via swimming, aqua jogging and cycling … something i should have done much earlier!

  • Anonymous April 15, 2009, 9:34 pm

    I had a stress fracture in my femural neck and it was awful. I was on crutches for almost a year and eventually I had surgery (pins put into my leg and they compressed the bone). The whole ordeal was painful and I couldn’t do anything physical for roughly 8 months. It taught me a lot of lessons about taking care of my body and appreciating it for all that it can do (rather than constantly pushing it to the limits).

  • heather April 16, 2009, 9:24 am

    i went to high school with a girl, who, as a freshman, was on the varisty basketball team. she got some sort of fracture in her hip, as a fourteen year old. her quads were too strong and pulled a piece of the bone out. yikes!

  • Ilene April 16, 2009, 4:06 pm

    I got a stress fracture in my lower leg earlier this school year during the volleyball season and had to sit out for the remaining few weeks – as well as 2 more months! it KILLED me to not be able to do ANYTHING active that i somehow cheated a bit and would occasionally exercise (with some pain). it’s better now, but those few months were the most torturous months EVER!

  • Patrick H August 10, 2009, 9:09 pm

    I have one in my tibia currently. Hopefully after 2 months of a boot (some of which with crutches) I will be able to play tennis again, which is how I hurt it. This sucks beyond belief, I have to miss a good chunk of tennis season.

  • Karen August 14, 2009, 11:16 am

    I have one right now and it is taking forever to heal. I haven't run for 10 weeks, and I've been wearing a walking boot for 8 very long weeks, using a bone stimulator for 1 week, and it's still not healed. I walked briefly today for the first time without the boot and the leg started to hurt again. This is so depressing and frustrating. I am sick of this!! Ladies – make sure you take calcium and vitamin D. My vitamin D levels were low, and apparently many woman nowadays are vitamin D deficient.

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