Many athletes, or just normal people that work out regularly, can end up with a stress fracture, and not even know how it was caused. Many of these people have no recollection of an injury or accident that could have brought on the stress fracture; it just starts hurting one day, and gets exponentially worse.
Stress Fractures are small, and can be minuscule, cracks in the bone that are very often the result of over-exertion during exercise. When working toward a goal, or embarking on a new fitness regime, many people take it to the next level, too soon. Starting a running routine at a 10 minute mile on a 6 mile course would be a good example. It seems like a good idea to just jump right in and get into a routine, but the best plan is to build up to it. Exercise will actually strengthen your bones, when done correctly, but when people pile on more than their skeleton can take, it overwhelms the body’s natural process of growth and repair, and creates tiny, painful cracks. Most commonly, stress fractures are found in the feet and shins, a result of too much high or repetitive impactful cardio routines.
Stress fractures will heal themselves over a period of a few weeks normally, but your MD should be consulted, in the case that it is more than a stress fracture, and to prevent it from leading to a break down the road. During the rest period, it is recommended to avoid the exercise that caused the fracture in the first place, but replace it with low-weight bearing, non-impact exercise, such as riding a stationary bike, swimming or using the elliptical trainer.
Keeping tabs on the fracture is imperative, and checking in regularly with your doctor is going to help you with this. If it continues to hurt at the same or a heightened level, there may be more going on than a stress fracture, and your doctor will need to take a further look, take X-Rays and possibly set you in a cast, or a temporary medical boot.
Protect yourself from re-injury by taking it easy, or easier than you would normally. Lighter weights with higher reps may help, in addition to non-impactful cardio. When at work or play, avoid wearing uncomfortable, unsupportive shoes, and stick to athletic shoes as much as possible to help support your injury. It may be time to take a look at your footwear, especially the ladies, and trade in some of the high heels for more stable and suitable shoes. And if the problem persists, ask your doctor to take a more invasive exam, because there may be a different underlying problem that caused the fracture.
Follow a strict set of guidelines when resuming your work out routines, and take your time increasing your weight, duration and distances. The last thing you want is to bring the fracture back when it has almost fully healed, and do it all over again.