Stress Fractures are a condition where training load has exceeded the body’s ability to maintain bone structure, resulting in partial to complete breakdown of the bone. The most common sites for stress fractures in the foot are the heel and the second or third metatarsal (long bones of the foot. A firm squeeze of the heel or mid section of the metatarsal bone is usually distinctly painful. A stress fracture is typically painful with weight bearing, although in the early stages you may be able to run relatively pain-free after you are warmed up. As the condition progresses the pain intensifies and often leaves you with a limp. X-rays will usually confirm the diagnosis after three weeks of symptoms (although this varies).
Whole food provided in the form of milk products with high protein, calcium and vitamin D is the best known nutritional guidance to prevent stress fracture and may speed recovery. Vitamin D and Calcium intake has been shown to reduce the incidence of stress fractures in military cadets by 27% and should aid in quicker healing.
This condition requires proper rest. Plan on at least six weeks of not running. Swimming, deep water running and cycling (not for metatarsal stress fracture) are the best cross training options because of the decreased weight bearing. If you are limping when you walk, using crutches until the limp is gone will dramatically speed recovery.
- Arch Supports, orthotics (custom foot supports) or a heel cup (for heel stress fractures) can help support the foot which may allow you to heal faster.
- Performing stretching exercises twice per day will also speed your recovery. These are the most important stretches:straight knee calf stretches, bent knee calf stretches.
- Vibration has been shown to accelerate bone healing. You can try using a vibrational massager by placing the massager on the bone an inch away from the sore spot and holding it for 2-4 minutes twice per day.
Considerations: Nutritional or hormonal factors may affect this condition. Consult a sports physician if this is a concern.