Sometimes overtraining can cause a bone fracture in the tibia (shin bone) or one of the many small bones in our feet. Repetitive impact from sports like running or gymnastics are typically the cause. We often see patients who tried to increase their mileage too quickly or were not wearing proper footwear which resulted in a stress fracture.
If you’re having pain that goes away when you stop the activity or take weight off of the injured area, you should see an orthopedic specialist so they can take images that will determine if you have a stress fracture and will decide if you need a boot or cast.
Now comes the recovery.
WATER EXERCISES WITH A STRESS FRACTURE
If you’re like most active people, it will be hard to sit around and wait for 6 – 8 weeks doing nothing but resting. You’re going to want to get up and do something. If your doctor approves, we recommend starting with aquatic therapy.
Exercises in the water provide resistance without direct impact to the injury. Getting into a warm pool with a certified aquatic therapy specialist, you will be guided through exercises that keep your muscles strong and can help with cardio conditioning, but does not cause impact on the stress fracture. If you have a boot and/or are on crutches, it’s possible to use a lift chair to get in and out of the therapy pool so that you don’t have to use stairs and possibly cause more injury to the fracture.
You can also head to the pool at the gym or in your backyard to swim laps as long as you aren’t causing impact against the water from kicking. For instance, the kick that is part of the butterfly stroke may be too much impact against your shins.
RUNNING AFTER A STRESS FRACTURE
Once your doctor says it’s OK to begin running or performing impact exercises again, the AlterG machine can be used to gradually bring you back to your running condition and even help you improve your performance. This technology allows you to reduce the gravitational pull on your body as you run by up to 100% of your body’s weight. This gives you the cardio benefit of running with less impact on your injury as it heals.
Your doctor can indicate the percentage to start at and then you can begin working back up to 100% of your body weight.
HOW TO AVOID SPORTS INJURIES IN THE FUTURE
If you’re a runner, increase your mileage slowly so that you don’t overburden your bone structure. And be sure to wear proper fitting footwear that is not worn out. Shoes that may look fine on the outside can be overused on the inside. The soles need to have the cushion that your body needs to absorb impact.
We hope that anyone concerned about a stress fracture will download and read our free eBook titled, How to Stay Active When You’ve Overtrained. This book helps you understand how to change up your activity to avoid injuries. We want you to feel better so you can perform better. And that starts with injury prevention.