Whether you’re a weekend warrior, an elite runner, or find yourself somewhere in between, it’s impossible to enjoy the benefits of exercise and self-betterment without encountering injuries and setbacks along the way. As the old saying goes, you can’t have the highs without having the lows.
And carrying the impact of these injuries will be the skeletal frame. Indeed, the skeleton does a very important job when it comes to exercise, and it’s likely that your health and training won’t amount to much without superior bone health.
For some people, sustaining a direct injury to the bones can be quite a common and unlucky experience, in what’s known in the field as acute bone fractures.
In relation to common day-to-day exercises, this type of fracture could be attributed to a broken finger, toe, or in more serious cases, limbs. These fractures are usually the result of a very sudden and traumatic force, and they’re the type of injury that’s hard to ignore.
Naturally, really traumatic bone breaks will set your exercise routine off on a little bit of a more restful course for a while and can be a major hindrance if you’re used to exercising and staying fit on the regular.
Of course, these types of breaks are very hard to predict because they’re too often the result of unlucky accidents. But for the purpose of our discussion today, we’re going to be investigating an entirely different type of fracture; one that can be even more detrimental to general health and one that’s unfortunately very difficult to see coming.
SMUG has pioneered superior physical health and wellbeing since the highly-anticipated inception of our renowned SMUG Active collection. With a distinct and science-led approach running throughout our entire product range, and with a company backed by a host of experts and wellness professionals, we’re familiar with the process of physical recovery down to a T.
Here today, we’re going to explore some of the most tedious fracture failures, what causes them, who is most susceptible to them, and how you can come back from one with your best foot forward.
What are Stress Fractures?
For any of our readers that own a car, we all know that getting a dent or chip in your car windscreen should never be ignored. Although they might seem insignificant, and indeed can be hard to spot at times, if left unchecked, they’re only a pothole or slight temperature change away from splintering into a giant problem of a crack.
This is essentially what a stress fracture is. They usually start off small in the form of tiny hairline fissures along the bone and are especially common in the lower limbs, legs and feet in athletes; as these are the areas taking the greatest impact during exercise.
Stress fractures begin as tiny, disconcerting cracks in the bone, and despite their initial size, have the power to completely sideline an athlete if left unchecked and untreated.
Just like a car windshield, their progression and expansion depend largely on a change in workout behaviours. This includes using a new pair of training shoes or working out on an unfamiliar surface.
But they can also occur when a workout routine experiences too much drastic change, like for example, training more intensely or for longer like you would when working towards a marathon or event.
As we mentioned, stress fractures commonly strike the lower parts of the skeleton, as this is the region of the body that supports most of its weight.
For this reason, runners, dancers, cyclists football players and basketball players are just some of the demographic at risk of encountering this issue.
When splitting it down even further, various medical field studies have demonstrated how athletes of Caucasian or Asian descent are at a higher risk of developing stress fractures due to the biological differences in their bone density, which are often caused by poor Vitamin D production and absorption.
In addition to this, pregnant women, or women who have their menstrual cycle suppressed by either chemical intervention or menopause, will likely also fall victim to stress fractures as a result of their limited bone density.
What are the Symptoms of Stress Fractures?
As we mentioned earlier, stress fractures are a progressive form of injury, and therefore their symptoms are much less likely to be noticed straight away; usually being detected only when the damage is already done.
The symptoms of stress fractures include:
Dull, General Pain
Stress fractures generate localised pain that’s difficult to pinpoint. Whether affecting the legs, feet, ankles or arms, the pain is felt deeply and can make its targeted area feel weak, numb and out of action.
The Pain Isn’t all the Time
A common feature of stress fractures is that they only hurt when engaged with some kind of force or physical action. For example, this may occur in the shins or feet when a person is running, or it may be felt in the arm or shoulder when throwing or catching a ball.
Soreness and Swelling
A fracture point may become sore and uncomfortable as it causes inflammation in the soft tissues that surround it. In certain cases, the sensation can also cause a surface-level bruise, although this is only normally common in much more severe cases.
The Pain is Worse at Night
Although the pain can be onset by exercise, those that suffer from this type of injury have reported the pain to be more severe during the nighttime, which often greatly hinders the experience of both sleep and recovery. This experience can be attributed to the lower levels of cortisol within the body during the night, which triggers an internal anti-inflammatory response that produces pain as a side-effect of recovery.
How to Recover from a Stress Fracture
Having been caused by elements of overactivity, it takes a long period of inactivity in order for stress fractures to heal properly.
Any athlete that experiences any of the aforementioned symptoms, including localised pain and dullness, weakness, swelling and unshakable pain during the night, should cease any form of exercise as soon as possible.
It’s also important to seek medical advice in this instance, as although they’re rarely fatal, stress fractures are better addressed as early as possible.
Although surgery is rare in the treatment of stress fractures, it can be more common for doctors to recommend casts in order to stabilise the fracture.
This can require the use of crutches or walking support throughout the recovery process, which can be extremely limiting and time-consuming for some, especially for those who were familiar with exercising regularly.
It can take anywhere between a few weeks and a few months for stress fractures to fully heal, and the process will often incur a lot of physical rehabilitation too. This is where you’ll most likely need to seek the help of workout supports to bring your muscles and motions back into shape.
Incorporating a resistance band into your recovery routine is highly recommended by sports professionals, many of who have been through the rehabilitation process themselves and found their benefits to be extremely beneficial.
Above all else, it’s really important that the fracture doesn’t have any excessive pressures put on it, and remember that moderation and patience are key to making a full recovery.
For the equipment, tools and techniques you shouldn’t recover without, visit our extensive SMUG Active collection here.
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