Stress Fractures - A Sneaky, But Common Injury

Stress fractures are very common with athletes who run and jump on hard surfaces. That means you basketball players, distance runners, and even ballet dancers. Stress fractures are commonly known as "very small sliver or crack in the bone."

Why do stress fractures occur?

Stress fractures happen when there is unusual or repeated stress on a bone. The muscles that are meant to support and protect that bone become fatigued, which leaves them unable to absorb added shock from an activity.  When that bone's response stress cannot maintain the pace of the repetitive demands, a stress fracture is very likely to result from this repeated trauma.

Repeated trauma: Bones are constantly attempting to remodel and repair themselves, especially during a sport where extraordinary stress is applied to the bone. Over time, if enough stress is placed on the bone that it exhausts the capacity of the bone to remodel, a weakened site - a stress fracture - on the bone may appear.

The fracture does not appear suddenly. It occurs from repeated traumas, none of which is sufficient to cause a sudden break in the bone. 

How does one prevent stress fractures?

Proper footwear and warm-up/cool-down exercises are great ways to help prevent stress fractures in the lower extremities. Before a run or any other strenuous activity, walk and stretch out in order to warm up your muscles that protect your bones. Focus on strengthening and stretching the calf muscles. And always try to stretch and cool down after an exercise session. By strengthening and stretching your muscles after an exercise session, you are preparing your muscles for the next workout and your every day activities.