Welcome to the FAAWC blog. Throughout the coming year, we will aspire to provide you with educational, social, and humorous posts that will help you better understand your own feet and the information surrounding your health. Many of you have chosen a healthier lifestyle as your focus for 2015. We fully encourage and support that, but with new fitness goals come the risk of foot and ankle injuries. As we venture into this new year, we can arm ourselves with knowledge and help prevent both minor and major injuries.
WHAT IS A STRESS FRACTURE?
Stress fractures are some of the most common injuries associated with new or changes in activities. A stress fracture is a tiny crack in the surface of the bone. They can happen with sudden increases in exercise (such as running or walking for longer distances or times), improper training techniques, or a change in surfaces. When our muscles are unable to absorb the shock of these activities, the energy is transferred onto the bone, which can result in a stress fracture.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE A STRESS FRACTURE?
The most common sign of a stress fracture is pain. This pain will be present during activities that were previously easy and pain-free. Additional symptoms are swelling and sometimes bruising. Although most stress fractures are not a serious injury, it is important to seek medical attention for any suspected fracture. Without the proper care, a stress fracture may develop into a full bone fracture, which can require casting and immobilization. Podiatric physicians can quickly and easily determine if a fracture is present and prescribe proper treatment. Many times, a simple x-ray can determine the presence of a stress fracture.
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR A STRESS FRACTURE?
Treatment for a stress fracture is simple: discontinue the activity that caused the fracture. This doesn’t mean that you have to become a couch potato, but changing to a different, less stressful, and low impact activity is important. Try switching from running to swimming, from tennis to tai chi, or from basketball to yoga. There are dozens of activities that can help you reach those fitness goals while your stress fracture heals. Here are a few examples:
- Strength Training
- Rowing machines
- Rock Climbing
- Water Aerobics
- Ballroom Dancing
HOW DO I PREVENT STRESS FRACTURES FROM HAPPENING?
And of course the best way to treat a stress fracture is to avoid getting one in the first place! If you are starting a new activity, don’t try to go all out all at once. Set small goals and slowly step up your workout as your health improves. Cross training is also important to any workout plan. Repetitive motion is the enemy, so alternate between cardiovascular exercise and weight training. A good variety of activities not only reduces the chances of a stress fracture, but also helps you create a well-rounded exercise plan that works your entire body.
Make sure you pay attention to the little details too. Those five year old running shoes that you just pulled out of the back of your closet may need to be replaced. Worn out or improper equipment can be very detrimental to your feet. Healthy diet is also a factor in preventing stress fractures. Diets that incorporate calcium and vitamin-D help maintain bone density and strength, which reduces the risk of fracture. This is especially important in women, who are more likely to have significant bone loss as they age.
Only about 8% of people who make a New Year’s resolution keep with it long enough to achieve it. Don’t let the pain of a foot or ankle injury derail you from your goal. If you aren’t sure what your feet are capable of, start out slow. Our podiatrists can help you determine the best activities for your foot health and offer preventative measures to protect you in your new or continuing endeavors. If you suspect that you have a stress fracture, call and make an appointment. Remember, healthy feet and ankles are the foundation of an active lifestyle.