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April 11, 2013

A Few Thoughts on Stress Fractures and Training

Written by Dena Evans

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A few thoughts on stress fractures and training

Stress fractures are one of the most common injuries treated in sports medicine clinics.  Normally labeled as overuse injuries stress fractures occur when muscles and ligaments are not able to bear the loads placed on them.  They then transfer those demands to bones, which develop a small crack as a result.

As runners put significant demands on the leg muscles with each and every step, leg muscles and bones are conditioned to bearing a high level of repeated stress.  Stress fractures can require 6-12 weeks of time off of running plus an incremental period of reintroduction to weightbearing activity, they are certainly worth avoiding if at all possible!

What are few common risk areas to be aware of when training?

Listen to your body

When running hard and long, muscles break down and begin a regenerative process with proper recovery.  However, shortcutting this process results in putting great demands on muscles.  If the muscles have not adapted, they are not prepared to again bear the new stress.  Your runcoach schedule is based on large amounts of data from thousands of training cycles by runners of all ages and abilities, and is intended to provide sensible recovery at every stage of training.  Even so, each runner’s body responds slightly different.  If you feel sore and tired for more than 3 days or before the next significant workout or long run, many factors can be at play.   Don’t be afraid to take a day off here and there as most training cycles are designed to be followed to 90% completion 

Bone health is important

Bone health is important for a variety of general health reasons and is crucial in the avoidance of injury for runners.  Females with a family history or personal past of osteoporosis, and / or an irregular menstrual history may be at increased risk for bone injuries.  They should seek preventative advice on how to improve these measurements through diet or other means before an injury requires more acute attention to general bone health.  Even if bone density is not a problem, both men and women can benefit from core work, plyomtetrics and other strength exercises to help the body’s stabilizing muscles decrease the stress passed on from muscles to the bones.  Check out our full body workout for a few simple ways to make a positive preventative impact in this area.  http://runcoach.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=itemlist&task=category&id=10:core-exercise-videos&Itemid=444

Avoid making several big changes to your training all at once

Enthusiasm is one of the greatest assets a runner can have.  After all, the miles can be long and motivation can wane at times.  Sometimes, a new trainee will embark on  a road toward an ambitious goal with the hope of turning the page or starting fresh on a new stage of life.   Even as that mentality is powerfully effective in helping an athlete out the door each day, raising mileage, while wearing a brand new style of shoes, while trying to adhere to a different diet, while scheduling a rigorous series of races one after another can be a recipe for setbacks.  If possible, pick one variable at a time to tweak – one knob to twist – and make sure your body has handled that change before next big adjustment comes.

The human body can handle a significant amount of activity.  Listen to your body and allow it to recover, maintain good health and healthy habits for the long term, and refrain from greatly adjusting more than one or two variables at once to hopefully stay one step ahead of the injury bug.
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