In my previous article on a stress fractures I discussed my run-in with this injury. Although my situation was a fairly dramatic one, this type of injury is still debilitating and quite frustrating, especially if you are a fairly active person.
By definition, stress fractures are tiny cracks in the bone caused by repetitive force or overuse. This injury is common amongst runners, pitchers, tennis players and gymnasts. Also, if you suddenly start a new exercise regime or activity that your body is not used to, your chances of developing a stress fracture go up.
Before you experience shin pain and jump to any conclusions, it is important to understand the symptoms. More often then not, this type of injury begins as shin splints and then develops into a stress fracture. If you experience increased pain with activity and decreased pain with rest, or pain that occurs earlier in your workout, or a specific spot on the shin bone that is tender to the touch, you may want to consult a doctor. If you catch these symptoms before you have persistent pain, you may have lucked out with just shin splints. I am certainly not saying shin splints are any less painful, but as far as treating them, you have a much better chance of making a full recovery. So, act fast upon feeling pain and discomfort in your lower leg.
Regardless of the reason you have been diagnosed with a stress fracture, that is all behind you now. So, let’s focus on the ways to get yourself healthy and back on your feet again. For starters, make all attempts possible to avoid weight-bearing exercises by using a walking boot, brace or even crutches for up to a few weeks until healing has begun to take its course. In an extreme case your doctor may put you in a splint or cast. I was a perfect example of that type of treatment. Although I was never able to pitch the same again because of muscle loss and a weak shin bone from the severity of my condition, I am still able to run long distances, participate in social sports, train for a triathlon and play kickball with my younger siblings and cousins.
Although a stress fracture can put a real damper on your exercise routine and lifestyle, there are ways to treat it with a successful recovery. Always listen to your doctor about when it is appropriate to resume weight-bearing activities and make a slow progression into intensity levels.
Depending on your lifestyle and exercise regime, it may seem hard to avoid a possible stress fracture, but keep these tips in mind: always start slow and progress gradually and cross-train with low impact activities to avoid forceful repetition on the shins, and always stretch and warm up before participating in any activity. Don't forget your calcium and vitamin D, and never brush off a pain that puts you in discomfort.