I'm not going to make you think I wrote any of what's below, or even that I got permission to post it here. But credit goes to the author of the following article for getting inside my head and writing exactly what I've been going through over the last 15 months. Even the picture could be my legs, but I like to think I have better muscle tone ;)Freaky side note, I stopped running on my first stress fracture on June 4th, 2007. Two days before she posted the article. Wooooooo.
th, 2007 at 2:33 PM by Jessica Galvano
Work. Errands. Overgrown lawns, full laundry baskets, and empty bank accounts. With countless concerns and unrelenting responsibilities, where is the relief? For many, exercise provides a much needed reprieve from life’s incessant demands. If your exercise of choice is running, however, you could be unintentionally creating rather than alleviating stress.
While running may seem the “safest” of athletic endeavors, its non-contact allure oftentimes conceals its high impact risks. Each meeting of foot and pavement introduces the possibility of new stresses, or more specifically, stress fractures.
No strangers to injury, distance runners are often intimately acquainted with this dreaded affliction. Inevitably, over time, constant pounding predisposes shins and feet to fracture; these tiny cracks cause point-specific pain and occasionally, mild swelling. The areas most susceptible to stress fractures include the foot’s delicate metatarsal bones, calcaneus (heel), and tibia (shin)—all essential areas in a sport that requires limber lower limbs.
If you suspect a stress fracture, it is important to consult a sports physician for a confirmed diagnosis. Because X-rays can only detect fractures weeks after the initial injury occurs, MRIs are common diagnostic tools. After an MRI verifies the fracture, there is unfortunately very little (other than rest) that you can do to accelerate healing; a recommended 6-8 weeks of no- to low-impact activity is the standard prescription for complete recovery. In more severe instances, casting or crutches may be necessary to limit weight-bearing and reduce discomfort.
The nagging pain and lengthy recovery period cause runners to regard stress fractures with intense loathing. A two-month-long hiatus from activity—understandably inconvenient for the casual runner—is all but intolerable for the dedicated marathoner.
How to avoid the weeks of inactivity, muscle atrophy, and near insanity? Quality running shoes, gradual increases in training intensity, and daily stretching have proven most effective. Shoes tailored to your individual foot type and mechanics (i.e. neutral, stability, or motion control) will provide the necessary correction for healthy, fracture-free legs. Whether natural or shoe-induced, a neutral strike better disperses the shock of impact and ensures that pliable muscle rather than rigid bone receives the physical stress of your run.
Despite our inherent need for instant gratification, experts discourage increases in training intensity that exceed 10% per week. While we all crave the immediate satisfaction of trimming a minute or two off of our route, an abrupt change in mileage or pace places additional strain on the lower legs and feet. If this sudden increase in demand repeatedly tries the body’s physical limits, the result will likely be a stress fracture.
Although we acknowledge the potential for injury, many of us remain stubbornly determined that today’s five mile run will become tomorrow’s ten mile run. A timely reminder of two to three months of recovery, however, might convince us that tomorrow can wait.
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