How can a stress fracture be prevented?
These steps can help prevent a stress fracture:
- Once you feel pain, stop exercising. Only return to exercise if you are pain-free.
- See your doctor as soon as possible if you have a persistent area of concern or discomfort.
- Use the correct sports equipment.
- Wear the proper running shoes. Running shoes should be replaced every 300 miles.
- Add new physical activities (for example, switch running with swimming).
- Start new sports activities slowly and gradually increase the time, speed and distance.
- When restarting a sport or activity, reduce your intensity by 50%. Follow the 10% rule — no increases of more than 10% per week.
- Make sure to properly warm up and cool down before activities.
- Practice strength training to help prevent early muscle fatigue, and to help prevent the loss of bone density that comes with aging.
- Follow a healthy diet full of calcium and vitamin D foods that will keep your bones strong. A sports nutritionist can be helpful if you are extremely active and have a history of stress fractures.
- If you decide to increase your activity level, ask your doctor for a recommendation of how much to add and when to add it.
- Optimize your bone health. If you have a known history of osteopenia or osteoporosis, discuss with your doctor how to medically manage these conditions. For an active person, treatment is best before an injury occurs. A stress fracture with a weak bone is harder to heal.
- If pain or swelling returns, stop the activity and rest for a few days. If pain continues, see your doctor.
- Check with your doctor before starting an exercise program or before taking a job that will involve a higher level of physical activity than you are used to.
- Follow all the rules your doctor gives you.