When Can I Exercise Normally After a Stress Fracture?

When Can I Exercise Normally After a Stress Fracture?

The tiny cracks in a bone known as stress fractures are common and painful. If you follow your recommended treatment plan, however, you can get back to the activities you’ve loved and missed during your recovery. The timing of resuming your previous exercise is important for your long term comfort and for staving off potential complications.

Our expert team at Northland Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in Kansas City, Missouri, combines their extensive experience with advanced technology to diagnose and treat stress fractures of all severities. Take a few moments to learn more about stress fractures, including exercise guidelines to consider. 

Stress fracture basics

Stress fractures happen when stress on a bone produces a tiny crack, often in a lower part of your body, like your feet. This stress derives from repetitive force, usually from overuse. If you jump repeatedly or run long distances, for example, or dive fully into a new exercise program rather than easing in, you hold a heightened risk. Stress fractures can also stem from normal use if you have weakened bones due to a condition like osteoporosis. 

If you engage in sports, such as track and field, you’re especially likely to experience this injury. And they account for up to 20% of sports injuries.

Stress fracture treatment

Stress fracture treatment varies, depending on the severity and location of your injury. You may need to wear a brace or walking boot or use crutches to prevent weight-bearing until you’ve healed. Other treatments may include ice therapy and elevating the affected bone. 

While most stress fractures heal without surgery, such intervention may be necessary if your injury is in a place where it receives poor blood supply. Some athletes opt for surgery for stress fractures regardless, with hopes of getting back on the field, track, or court faster.

Exercising after your stress fracture

Healing of your stress fracture can take several months, if not longer. On average, it takes around three months. For much of that time, it’s very important that you rest the affected bone. At the same time, exercises that don’t involve the bone can enhance healing by increasing blood flow. If your stress fracture is in your foot, for example, you should be able to do seated aerobics or swimming. One good rule of thumb is to avoid any exercise that hurts. 

It’s not uncommon for someone to be able to get back to jogging or running in 6-8 weeks after a stress fracture with proper care. Once you are able to exercise normally again, go about it gradually, stopping if you feel significant pain. Your provider at Northland Orthopedic & Sports Medicine can recommend a specific treatment plan based on your injury, including exercise recommendations. 

To learn more about stress fractures or get the care you need, call Northland Orthopedic & Sports Medicine or request an appointment on our website. 

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