Olympic Stress Fractures

February 26, 2010
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Another common over-use injury for athletes and exercise enthusiasts is stress fractures. These are common in the small bones of your foot and ankle. When you use your feet a lot, and add a lot of stress to them, this can cause small, incomplete fractures known as stress fractures. These account for up to 15% of all sports-related injuries. The symptoms include pain, swelling, and redness in the area of the fracture. Your podiatrist will need to perform an examination including X-Rays to properly diagnose your condition. Then treatment usually consists of immobilization with a cast or walking boot for a period of time paired with medication for pain, followed by possible use of an orthotic to prevent further injury and use.


This injury is most often caused by repeated use of the foot, especially when performing a repetitive or high impact action (running is both of these). There are a few things that you can do to prevent an injury of this type. First of all, vary your workouts. Pair you high impact workouts like running or aerobics with low impact, high cardiac output exercises like biking, swimming, walking, or a low impact exercise machine like a stair climber or elliptical. You can also look for low impact seasonal activities like cross country skiing or snow shoeing. You should also make sure you are wearing the appropriate footwear for all your activities. Wear tennis shoes for workouts or runs, and be sure your shoes are in good condition with adequate support and padding. Remember to lace and tie your shoes completely. People who work on hard surfaces, like concrete, or stand for long periods of time are not only susceptible to plantar fasciitis, but also to stress fractures. Be sure that your work shoes are supportive and not high heeled. You may also want to consider orthotics as a preventative measure, as they return your foot to a neutral biomechanical position and help relieve some of the stress placed on your foot.


If you think you are experiencing a stress fracture, just remember RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. This will help you find some relief and will aid in reducing any swelling you may experience. You can also take an over-the-counter pain medication for any soreness, discomfort, or pain. You should then call your podiatrist to set up an appointment for diagnostic tests and to begin your treatment. Leaving stress fractures untreated will lead to further pain, and a more severe fracture. They need to be treated as soon as possible.