If you have ever experienced a stress fracture, you know that it is painful and inconvenient. Unfortunately, it is also very common. Foot and ankle stress fractures can occur quickly, and some people might not even be aware they have one, which can lead to deeper injury. Whether you’re an active individual who loves to exercise and be outdoors, or you’re more sedentary due to health issues, it is important to know what causes foot and ankle stress fractures so you can avoid them.

Causes of Stress Fractures

Foot and ankle stress fractures can be caused by a fitness accident, inappropriate footwear, or an illness. Five of the most common causes are the following:

  1. Increase in physical activity. Stress fractures are common in athletes. High-impact sports like running, dance, gymnastics, basketball, or tennis pose a risk of injury to the foot and ankle. Outside of those who regularly play sports, sedentary people who suddenly increase their physical activity are also at risk. Engaging in an active training routine or rapidly increasing the frequency or duration of your training sessions can lead to injury. Be sure to work with a personal trainer or a podiatrist to get proper guidance and advice prior to dramatically increasing your activity level.
  2. Poor conditioning or technique. Foot and ankle stress fractures can also be caused by poor running technique or improper conditioning before or after any sport. Be sure to take the time to stretch prior to strenuous physical activity and to also cool down afterward. Consult with a professional or an experienced exercise partner about proper form and methods to avoid injury while exercising.
  3. Change of environment. Sometimes a change in environment, such as a playing surface, can cause injury. If a jogger transitions from a treadmill to an outdoor trail, for example, this can cause strain and the risk of a new injury. If you are making changes to the way you exercise, ease into it and be sure to take proper precautions, such as purchasing appropriate footwear.
  4. Unsupportive shoes. Speaking of appropriate footwear, shoes are one of the greatest protections you have against foot and ankle stress fractures. Make the investment in quality shoes designed for your sport of choice. You can also meet with a podiatrist to examine your feet and receive guidance on properly fitting shoes that are customized to your body’s own needs. Wearing flimsy or worn-out shoes can cause injury, so be sure to replace your shoes regularly.
  5. Bone density. While most stress fractures come from physical activity, diseases like osteoporosis can also be troublesome. Since this condition weakens your bones, it results in fragility that can cause fractures to occur much more easily. The same is true for previous stress fractures – if you have been injured previously, that specific bone could be weaker and more likely to fracture again. Finally, a lack of proper nutrition can affect bone density, so be sure to consume an appropriate amount of calcium and vitamin D to keep bones strong.

Get the Help You Need

If you suspect you may have a stress fracture, do not wait to seek medical attention. Ignoring even a minor fracture can cause a host of other problems, including a bigger break or long-term effects like arthritis. At Carolina Podiatry, you can receive guidance, treatment, and protection from future foot and ankle stress fractures. Serving the Charlotte region, we are your go-to destination for everything related to fractures and other stress-related injuries. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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