As the name implies, a stress fracture occurs when a bone is overloaded with stress to the point that a crack develops. And while stress is the underlying mechanism, there are a number of underlying factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing a stress fracture. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at some of the underlying factors that can increase your risk of a stress fracture so that you can work to mitigate your risk of suffering one in your foot.
Foot Stress Fracture Risk Factors
Stress factors can affect people of all ages and activity levels, so don’t assume that you’re immune just because you’re young. In fact, young and active individuals can actually be at an increased risk of a foot stress fracture. Here’s a look at some of the factors that can increase your risk of a stress fracture.
- Overactivity – They say that you can’t have too much of a good thing, but that’s not true when it comes to exercise. If you’re not giving your body enough time off to recover from the rigors of exercise or athletic activity, your feet may be at risk of being overstressed. Whether you’re trying to train for a marathon or you’re not taking breaks between sport seasons, if you don’t give your body some time to rest and recover, a stress fracture could develop.
- Too Much, Too Quickly – Similarly, if you try to increase your activity level too quickly, you may be creating the perfect environment for a stress fracture. If you don’t start training before two-a-day practices begin, or you try to go from the couch to a half marathon in six weeks, you may be putting too much stress on your feet in a short period of time. You need to slowly increase your workload when putting your feet through new stressful activities.
- Excess Weight – The more you weigh, the more strain your feet are going to be under with each step you take. Exercise can help you shed a few of these pounds, but be careful about overdoing it as you work to lose this weight, because your feet will be feeling the effects of this added stress with each step. Being overweight or obese is tied to an increased risk of stress fractures in your feet.
- Older Age – While young and active individuals can be at risk because of the regular stress they put on their feet, older individuals also need to be mindful of the strain they’re putting on their feet. Older individuals tend to have lower bone density in their feet, which means that the bones may not be able to handle stress like they could when you were younger. Weaker bones can develop a stress fracture more easily.
- Poor Nutrition – A poor diet or a diet that’s lacking the right amount of vitamins and minerals can also increase your risk of a stress fracture in your foot. If you aren’t getting enough vitamin D or calcium in your diet, your bones can become brittle, increasing your risk of osteoporosis and stress fractures.
- Underlying Foot Issues – Finally, if you’re dealing with an underlying foot issue that can affect the integrity of your foot’s bone structure, you may be more likely to develop a stress fracture. Problems like a bunion or fallen arches can lead to different areas of your foot being forced to take on more stress when you walk or run, and this can increase your risk of a stress fracture.
If you’re dealing with discomfort in your feet, especially if the discomfort worsens with activity, consider connecting with a foot specialist to see if you’re dealing with a stress fracture or a different underlying issue in your foot. Stress fractures and foot conditions are Dr. McDonald’s specialty, and he’d be more than happy to help you get the treatment you need to overcome your condition. For more information, or to talk to a specialist about your foot pain, reach out to his office today at (860) 244-8889.