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Runners: Stress Fractures Can Slow You Down

Updated: Sep 28, 2023

With the growing popularity of marathon running, we are seeing more patients with stress fractures of the foot, especially in first-time marathoners.

Many times new runners enter a race with little or improper long-distance training. The lack of experience along with the repetitive impact placed on the feet during the run can produce enough stress to cause hairline breaks in the bones of your foot.

If you have started running or are entering your first marathon, we recommend you follow these guidelines to help prevent injury:

Don’t increase your mileage or change to a more intense phase of training too quickly. The increased force placed on the bones in your feet make them more susceptible to stress fractures. A general rule of thumb is to increase your mileage by no more than 10 percent each week.

Take adequate rest time between runs to decrease your risk of injury.

Wear properly fitting shoes that provide adequate support to your feet. If you suffer from abnormal mechanics in the foot, such as overpronation or hypermobility, custom orthotics can also help prevent injury.

Stress fractures can occur anywhere in the foot and can eventually lead to a complete break of the bone if left untreated. The signs of a stress fracture can include pain, swelling, and redness and possible bruising. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to walk on a foot with a fracture, so just because you’re able to walk does not mean there isn’t a more serious problem.

Remember, early diagnosis and treatment are important to ensure proper healing. If you suspect a break, immediately follow the RICE protocol — Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. If pain and swelling last longer than a few days, a visit to our office is in order.

In most cases, treatment includes rest and immobilization with casting of the foot. Surgery may be required in certain instances to repair and stabilize a stress fracture that has progressed into a full fracture.

Women running pain free

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