How to Prevent Stress Fractures

Written by: Shannon Polk, Kudos Team Contributor

Do you participate in high-impact activities such as running, basketball or tennis? If so, you could be at greater risk for a stress fracture in your back, legs or feet. Stress fractures typically occur when your muscles are overused and too fatigued to absorb the impact, so the stress is transferred to the bone resulting in a small crack. Not only can stress fractures cause pain and swelling, but they can take several months or longer to heal. The good news is that stress fractures are preventable! Check out these prevention tips: 

1) Wear the right shoes. It’s important to get professional service from an athletic footwear expert to ensure you are exercising in shoes that are the right size and shape, support your feet properly and feel comfortable. For runners, a high-cushion shoe can help absorb the shock from pounding the pavement or trail. 

2) Eat foods rich in calcium and vitamin D. These nutrients are known for helping maintain good bone health. Calcium-rich foods include collard greens, broccoli rabe, ricotta cheese, yogurt and milk. You can get vitamin D through foods such as sardines, salmon, tuna, oysters, cheese, egg yolks, orange juice and vitamin D-fortified milk.

3) Make gradual changes to your exercise routine. If you’re planning to increase your mileage or participate in a new activity, make sure you build up your endurance and strength gradually. If you go from running 3 miles a day regularly to running 10 miles one day, you will likely strain your muscles and put added pressure on your bones. 

4) Cross train with low-impact activities. To avoid over-stressing your muscles and bones from repeating a high-impact activity, incorporate low-impact exercises such as swimming, yoga, indoor cycling or elliptical training. 

5) Rest your body. It’s important to have rest days to allow your body to recover from a hard workout. Pay attention to signs that your body needs a break. If you experience pain or swelling as a result of a high-impact activity, you should stop the activity and rest for a few days. If the pain doesn’t subside, see your doctor.