Exercising With Stress Fractures

Stress fractures are among the most aggravating injuries for athletes to endure. It isn’t that treatment is particularly difficult; in fact, it couldn’t be simpler. Usually, treatment consists of no more than simply taking it easy and waiting for the fractures to heal on their own.

For someone used to being active, though, waiting a month or two for things to get better can feel like torture! Unfortunately, many athletes start up their sports or running again too quickly, undoing all the healing that’s taken place and forcing them to start all over again.

Fortunately, you don’t have to shut it all down. It is possible (and even advisable!) to stay active while dealing with stress fractures in your feet. But you have to be smart about it, and you might have to get used to doing things a little differently for a while.

First, a warning. You really don’t want to mess with stress fractures while they’re healing. High-impact, load-bearing exercises are a definite no-no until your doctor has given you the all-clear. You may think it’s okay to go for a run when your foot pain has receded to a dull ache. You’ll be especially tempted once the pain has gone (but your doctor hasn’t cleared you yet). RESIST THE URGE! If you re-aggravate the injury too soon, not only will you undo everything, but you will likely make the fractures even worse than they were before.

So, what are your alternatives? That will vary from person to person, but in most cases, you’ll get the go-ahead to stay in shape and keep moving with low-impact alternatives. This may include some or all of the following activities, but be sure to check with your doctor first!

  • Swimming
  • Water aerobics
  • Cycling
  • Rowing (and other seated resistance exercises that don’t use the feet)
  • Pull-ups
  • Yoga (not all poses may be appropriate, but those that don’t load the injured foot should be fine)

With any stress fracture, it’s important to go at the pace your doctor sets for you rather than to trust your own responses, as the symptoms may disappear before the fracture has fully healed. If you need your painful, aching feet evaluated and want to get on the path to healing—and stay there—give the Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona a call at (480) 963-9000 today.

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