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Six Tips for Preventing Stress Fractures

Author: Rosemary Buckle, M.D.

As more people get back outside and start exercising in the warm weather, it’s important to take some time to review stress fractures. If you participate in any kind of exercise that involves impact or overuse of the feet (primarily running), you’re likely to experience a stress fracture at some point in your life.

Stress fractures occur as a result of repetitive impact. Running and jumping are two of the primary activities that lead to these fractures. Risk of developing a stress fracture can increase if you suddenly begin a new workout routine or if you increase the intensity of your workout. One common cause of stress fractures, for example, is increasing the distance of your run. Most runners find that keeping their distance increase below 10% per week helps reduce the likelihood of developing a stress fracture. (Learn more about stress fracture symptoms and treatment here.)

So, how can you prevent stress fractures in the first place?

Preventing Stress Fractures

  • Wear the right running shoe. Don’t just pull on any old pair of sneakers. Stop by your local running store to get fitted for a shoe that’s right for your foot type, gait, and running surface. Learn more about choosing the right running shoe.
  • If you feel an injury starting, stop running. Take a break and allow your body to heal.
  • Don’t try to do too much too soon. A sudden increase in your mileage or pace can put you at a higher risk for injury. Allow your progress to be slow, gradual, and consistent, and your body will thank you for it. (You’ll be thankful, too! Improving at a slow pace is better than getting sidelined for six weeks with a stress fracture and having to start back from square one.)
  • Cross training can strengthen the muscles in your body that aren’t significantly impacted by running. Integrating some low-impact exercises into your routine will reduce stress and fatigue in at-risk regions.
  • Work with a personal trainer or sports medicine physician who is knowledgeable about healthy running habits.
  • Eat a diet that’s rich in calcium and other nutrients necessary for strong bones.

Schedule With a Houston Sports Medicine Physician

Have more questions about running and stress fractures? As a three-time Ironman Triathlete, I’ve had to deal with my fair share of injuries along the way. Come to your next appointment at Houston Institute for Sports Medicine and Orthopedics with your questions! To schedule with a Houston sports medicine doctor, call (713) 756-5546, or schedule online.

Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.